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Vets have issued a severe warning after a nine-month-old pup swallowed a stick half the length of his body.
Rocky, a Southampton-born pooch, was taken to Southampton PDSA Pet hospital after suffering from severe sickness.
Owner Joanna, 36, had no idea her pup had swallowed the stick and and phoned the vets for advice when little Rocky started displaying symptoms. To her shock, the team at PDSA advised he be admitted as an emergency, where they found the gigantic stick sitting in the pup's stomach.
Now, PDSA vets have issued a warning to owners, urging them to keep sticks away from their fur babies while walking or in the garden.
They've even created a free Pet First Aid leaflet, which is available download here.
"Rocky was being sick repeatedly and couldn't keep any food down. I was so worried and I had no idea what was wrong. I called PDSA and they told me to bring him straight in," said Joanna.
PDSA Vet, Zofia Bauman, added: "We knew Rocky was very likely to have eaten something he shouldn't have to cause his sudden illness, and suspected he had a foreign body in his stomach, but we couldn't believe our eyes when we discovered the stick during surgery!
"Given its length, and his size, it's a wonder it hadn't punctured his vital organs and caused fatal injuries. I've never seen anything like it."
After an hour-long operation, the stick was removed and Rocky stayed in overnight for monitoring, to ensure he was stable and that no internal bleeding had occurred.
He was allowed home the following day with painkillers and on strict bed rest!
The veterinary charity explain they regularly see stick-related incidents across their 48 Pet Hospitals and are urging owners to only use pet safe toys for playtime.
Chewing or playing with sticks can cause wounds in the mouth and throat, choking or intestinal blockages as well as the risk of sticks getting lodged in the mouth.
"We couldn't believe he'd managed to swallow a stick that was half the length of his body! We didn't see it happen and think he must have got hold of it in the garden," said Joanna.
"I'd encourage everyone to keep sticks well away from their pets to avoid the suffering Rocky has been through. Our family was heartbroken to see him so unwell. Thankfully, he's on the mend and feeling better already, and that's all thanks to PDSA.
"They are wonderful and I would like to thank the vet team who helped save our little treasure. I think PDSA are the best charity in the world!"
PDSA's veterinary care costs £60 million a year to run, but with so many retail shops closed and fundraising events cancelled due to Covid-19, the charity is losing £3 million a month in income.
With the current financial uncertainty across the UK, PDSA expects the number of pets needing care will increase by around 50,000. Rocky's treatment would have cost Joanna over £750.
You can donate to the charity here.
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