The owners of a Labrador puppy who swallowed an open safety pin have praised the sharp response of the Internal Medicine team at Davies Veterinary Specialists (Davies) for safely retrieving the dangerous spring clasp from the puppy’s oesophagus.

Bella, a typically inquisitive seven-month-old Labrador Retriever ate the pin while rummaging in a bin, having escaped through a pet gate that had been left open accidentally. She was caught in the act by her owners Will Maisey and Sarah Ritchie, who live in Milton Keynes, but quickly swallowed the inadvisable appetiser before they had a chance to grab her.

She was rushed to her local pet emergency clinic  in Milton Keynes and X-rays showed that the safety pin was lying in her oesophagus. She was referred to the internal medicine team at Davies, the Linnaeus-owned referral practice in Hertfordshire, for emergency treatment.

“It wasn’t possible to tell from her X-ray if the safety pin had perforated the oesophagus or not,” said Emma Rogers-Smith Internal Medicine Resident at Davies. “We discussed the options with the emergency team at Vets Now: either giving Bella a meal and making her sick or performing an emergency endoscopy.

“Whilst it was very likely that making her sick would have enabled the safety pin to be passed without complication, there was the risk of damage to the oesophagus which could lead to a life-threatening pneumothorax and subsequently require emergency surgery.

“Because of this risk the referring vets felt it was best to send Bella to us,” continued Emma. “But there is still a risk of oesophageal damage with endoscopic removal, especially given the fact that the safety pin was open”.

Bella was anaesthetised and the safety pin was retrieved from her distal oesophagus with both the anaesthesia and soft tissue surgery teams on standby in case she needed emergency surgery. Thankfully there were no complications with the procedure. Bella recovered quickly and was discharged the same afternoon.

“Bella is a typical Labrador puppy and always hungry,” said Will Maisey. “We pin the problem on her gluttony - everything, whether it’s food or not, is potentially gourmet cuisine to her. The pin was only in the bin because Sarah had inadvertently thrown it away with a printed number from a recent running competition!

“We were understandably distraught, but Emma was so quick, efficient and skilled with the emergency endoscopy and now Bella is back to her normal exuberant self. In future we will be double checking the pet gate and keeping discarded safety pins closed!”

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