Last week I extracted a tampon from a dog’s small intestine. Really. But, to be honest, it was not the tampon that caused the bulk of the problem. The feminine hygiene product’s stringy supplement was mostly to blame, wreaking havoc in my patient’s circuitous digestive apparatus by way of its ability to effectively accordion her bowels.
Most people I know that hear this dog-meets-tampon story admit it’s not just horribly disgusting but totally entertaining, too. Gross-out humor is too darn popular these days. But it’s not just that. The fact that our patients will eat all kinds of random things is an endless source of amusement for us.
Sure, it’s not funny when we’re taking X-ray after X-ray trying to figure out whether there’s something in there or not. And it’s certainly not funny when we’re cutting multiple holes into their intestines in the process of getting random stuff out. But the strange truth is this: Veterinarians are often proud — way proud — of the fact that we can save our patients’ lives by extracting strange things from their guts.
I know, I know, it’s weird. But hey, it’s the God-honest truth. Why else would a leading veterinary trade magazine host an annual "What the heck did you find in Fido?" contest?
Though I can’t offer you a taste, seeing as this issue is not yet available online, let it suffice to say that all of the ten-plus entries listed in the article bested my tampon story to the extreme. (Here are the winners of 2009.)
For example, the winner ate ten handballs. As in, ten big black balls about the size of a smallish orange. They filled the stomach. And somehow didn’t cause too much of a problem — which is a shocking thing to consider. The runners-up? They ate sewing needles and Gorilla glue and baby toys and all kinds of things you might consider horribly indigestible. None of them, however, consumed a tampon.
So how could a publication of such eminence neglect such an obviously "interesting" example of a gastrointestinal foreign body?
Well … perhaps because tampon consumption is so damn common in dogs that no one cares to air such dirty laundry anymore. I mean, why bring that kind of gross-out stuff to the fore when there’s so much entertainment to be had with big black handballs?
Dr. Patty Khuly