Dogs eat the strangest things.
Last night at the emergency hospital a nurse carried a five-year-old Terrier cross into the treatment room. She advised me matter-of-factly that the dog had consumed a fake breast three hours earlier.
To prove her point, she showed me the box that the clients wisely decided to bring with their dog. One end of it was chewed. Inside was a plastic tray with two slots. One was empty. In the other slot was a stick-on silicone falsie, size B. Evidently the dog had eaten one and found himself sated.
I evaluated the piece of silicone, coated in polyurethane, that the dog had not consumed. Although it was non-toxic, there was little doubt that the other half of the pair ultimately would lodge in the intestines. The dog only weighed 15 pounds. Size B was too much for this guy to handle.
Three hours had passed since the dog’s indiscretion. If the breast was still in the dog’s stomach, it might be possible to eliminate it by making him vomit. However, if the fake breast had already passed into the intestines, then the dog would require surgery. In that case making him vomit would be pointless. After three hours, either was possible.
I considered the option of taking an X-ray to see if the breast’s location could be determined. But a technician took a sample X-ray of the non-ingested breast and it turned out to be invisible. X-rays would be useless in this case.
I decided that the best course of action would be to make the dog vomit. But first I would need to talk to the clients. Keeping a straight face during the encounter would not be easy.
One of the nurses offered a helpful suggestion. “Only look at her from the neck up.”
I entered the exam room where a bemused looking couple was waiting. I did my best to maintain eye contact.
We discussed the risks and benefits of inducing emesis in order to eliminate the, er, product from the dog’s digestive tract. The clients authorized the procedure.
I prefer to make dogs vomit by giving an intravenous injection of a drug called apomorphine. I am aware of only one use for the medicine. It causes vomiting. I do not understand why many bottles of the drug contain a warning that it may be habit forming.
While a nurse drew up the medication I offered the dog some canned food. Filling a dog’s stomach with food before he vomits causes the vomiting to be more productive. It is like priming a pump.
I, for one, would be too nervous to eat low-quality food in my doctor’s office. But the sort of dog who is silly enough to eat a fake breast generally doesn’t let such trivialities stand in the way of gluttony. Although he lost his appetite for fake breasts after one, he had saved room for a half can of junk food.
The nurses mainlined the apomorphine. In the course of 30 seconds, the dog transitioned from a happy, tail-wagging, breast eating, goofy mutt to a visibly nauseated creature. He retched and regurgitated a small amount of dog food. He then recovered.
This would not do. For this problem, the dog would have to go through gut wrenching, side splitting, eye popping vomiting. He had brought this upon himself. He needed more apomorphine.
The nurses gave another injection of the medicine. This time the floodgates opened. The dog vomited copious dog food, a moderate amount of grass, several small twigs, an ear plug, some yarn, and a fake breast, size B.
45 minutes later the dog was ready to go home.
I had to ask.
“Do you want the other, uh, product back?”
The clients graciously declined.