Accidentally swallowing a conker wasn’t one of Monty the Labrador’s best moves. It resulted in life-threatening internal complications but thanks to skilled teamwork at our referral centre Davies Veterinary Specialists, the critically ill hound made a full recovery.

Seven-year-old Monty was staying with his owner Neil Gailey’s parents while Neil, who lives in Northamptonshire was visiting family in Edinburgh. During a typical morning walk with Neil’s Dad, and completely unknown to him, Monty managed to pick up and swallow a conker.

A couple of hours later Monty began to get very sick, unable to hold down water. Neil’s parents rushed Monty to the vet where he was given an anti-nausea injection. Later, however, Monty was presenting very strangely to Neil’s parents, eventually collapsing in the garden. They rushed him to the nearest vet practice as an emergency, Vets4Pets in Milton Keynes.

“It was an incredibly anxious and worrying time as Monty was struggling, I was so far away, and he was obviously in some distress,” said Neil. “I knew it was serious even though I wasn’t beside my boy.”

Monty needed urgent surgery at his own vet practice to remove the conker but the obstruction had caused damage to his small intestine and abdominal cavity. Following the surgery, he developed complications including cardiac arrhythmia and aspirational pneumonia. His bile pigment was rising, his protein levels dropping and he was deteriorating rapidly, so he was admitted as an emergency to the intensive care unit at Davies Veterinary Specialists , the Hertfordshire-based small animal referral hospital.

“He was extremely poorly on arrival and due to his lack of proteins, his tissues had started to swell,” said Julien Bazelle, small animal internal medicine specialist at Davies. “Once we had stabilised him, tests revealed further alarming complications; low calcium, inflamed pancreas and a large blood clot in one of his major abdominal blood vessels. We also suspected he had multiple blood clots in his lungs blood vessels.”

When there is severe inflammation of the intestines, this can affect the very sensitive pancreas, leading to the release of its digestive enzymes and triggering a cascade of inflammatory metabolic complications including over-activation of the clotting system. Such complications are rare and Monty was very unlucky to present with so many of them.

During the first few days, Monty’s swelling increased and his face and neck appeared twice their normal size. He had to be fed through a feeding tube and needed round the clock nursing.

“The Davies nursing team kept a very close eye on Monty,” said Julien. “They helped him to stand every day and stimulated his exercise to help move the fluid which had accumulated in his tissues. Thanks to their amazing dedication, we kept Monty’s nutrition and fluid needs under control, speeding up his recovery.”

“It was a very long and worrying couple of weeks, but Monty is a very determined dog and he eventually turned a corner,” said Julien. “He gained strength and no longer needed the feeding tube and to his owner’s delight we were able to discharge him just over two weeks after admission. He is now enjoying his normal life as if nothing had ever happened!”

Despite COVID the staff at Davies staff made it possible for Neil to visit Monty daily, within the restrictions, for a short time. Neil would spend every visit telling Monty how much he loved him and that they still had so much more to share together.

Neil said: “For most of Monty’s life it has just been the two of us. I couldn’t imagine life without Monty and I knew he was not going to let go without a fight, however bleak it seemed at times.”

He continued: “Monty is doing so well and this is, I feel, a direct result of the incredible care, skill and understanding that the amazing team at Davies delivered. I also feel Monty had too much to live for and fought so hard to still be here and enjoying the life he had before the accident. No one is more grateful and thankful than me. Julien, his colleague Anna and the entire team at Davies will forever have a very special place in Monty’s life journey, and mine too. I will never be able to thank them enough.”

For further information visit

Back to news