17 May 2022

A romp in the park turned into a race to the vets after a young boxer dog swallowed a tennis ball which lodged dangerously in her stomach.

Two-year-old Bonnie was rushed to us for emergency specialist treatment after swallowing a miniature tennis ball when playing with it on one of her daily walks.

However, after being left on the ropes, the boxer has now bounced back to her best following our multidisciplinary approach, which ultimately involved passing a camera through the mouth, down the oesophagus and into the stomach to retrieve the small ball.

Prior to the successful outcome, owner Dr Laura May, a consultant anaesthetist at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, said her medical knowledge meant she knew how much danger the family’s beloved Bonnie had been in.

Dr May said: “I was very concerned about the potential consequences when a chest x-ray revealed the ball was in the stomach.

“Due to its size, I assumed the worst and thought it would need to be surgically removed, so I was extremely worried about the risks both intra and postoperatively.”

However, detailed discussions with our specialist-trained emergency and critical care clinician Fernanda Camacho eased her fears and a treatment plan was put in place.

Dr May added: “I was fully informed and involved in the decision-making as to how to proceed. We talked through options, from induced vomiting, watch and wait, to surgery, and decided on a step-by-step plan from least invasive with surgery a last resort.”

Fernanda said her first move was to try to induce vomiting, explaining: “I gave Bonnie an injection of apomorphine and she brought up her breakfast but, unfortunately, no ball.

“An X-ray confirmed the location of the ball was still present within Bonnie’s stomach. I was concerned the ball may cause inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) or obstruction in her intestine. So, in order to avoid an operation to remove the ball, Bonnie underwent endoscopy under an anaesthetic.”

Our European and RCVS internal medicine specialist Isuru Gajanayake then carried out the endoscopy, saying: “An endoscopy involves passing a flexible camera through the mouth, down the oesophagus and into the stomach.

“Using the camera, I was able to locate the ball and then using special forceps, which are guided through a channel inside the endoscope, I was able to secure the ball.

“Bonnie made a very uneventful recovery and was allowed home and is now doing very well.”

Dr May was full of praise for the Willows team, saying: “Bonnie bounced back very quickly and was back to normal the following day.

“I would most definitely recommend Willows to other pet owners. They were really professional but friendly, and they always took the time to listen and fully explain what was required.

“I felt she was in the best place and was so relieved they were able to remove the ball endoscopically. They looked after Bonnie so well that she still enjoys going there!”