We all know how much dogs love gobbling up anything they can find, regardless of whether it's edible, but Ruby the spaniel/terrier cross took binge eating to a new level when she swallowed a whopping 24 rubber surgical gloves and needed surgery to save her life. Ruby's owner Sarah Fletcher, 25, York, shares her story…
Waking up on my 25th birthday this year, I yawned my way down the stairs. I was expecting to be greeted with kisses from my excitable dog Ruby, just like every other morning. But today, 17 March, my sweet little spaniel/terrier cross was nowhere to be seen.
‘Happy birthday!’ smiled my mum Julie, 51, giving me my card and present.
‘Thank you,’ I replied, ‘Where’s Ruby?’
Mum’s face dropped. ‘Dad took her to the vet,’ she said, ‘she needs an operation.’
‘What’s wrong?!’ I panicked.
While I was working a long shift at my healthcare job the day before, Mum and Dad found four rubber surgical gloves in the kitchen, covered in slobber, and four more in the garden.
‘They’re the gloves from my van,’ my dad Michael, 54, told Mum.
He noticed that 2-year-old Ruby had become sedate – a far cry from her normal, energetic self. She also wasn’t eating. Dad thought she must’ve eaten some of his gloves while she was in the back of his van the day before, so he took her to get checked. Mum and Dad hadn’t wanted to worry me.
‘We hoped it’d all be sorted by today,’ Mum said.
But the vet had found that Ruby had an enlarged stomach with a dark mass at the bottom.
‘It’s got to be more gloves,’ Dad suggested when he got home. I spent my birthday worried sick about Ruby.
The next morning she was put under general anaesthetic while the vets performed an exploratory laparotomy, opening her stomach from top to bottom. At 12pm we went to the vet’s to see my poor baby as she was coming round.
‘We removed 16 rubber gloves from her stomach,’ said the vet.
Sixteen! Together with what she’d already coughed up, that was 24 gloves. Greedy girl! The vet explained that the gloves were so tightly clumped together, Ruby would never have been able to pass them out of either end.
She could’ve died.
But I was relieved. Ruby was still with us, and she was back to her old self straight away. She was kept in for another two nights before she was discharged, and had a cone around her head for a few days, but otherwise you wouldn’t have known she’d been under the weather.
We’ve had to be careful to let the large scar on her tummy heal, but now Ruby’s running around the house being her usual mad self.
Though Dad and I both need these surgical gloves for work, we’re now very careful about what we leave lying around – to make sure Ruby can’t gobble up something that disagrees with her.
After £1,300 in vets bills, my dad certainly isn’t ready to repeat the past just yet! But the important thing is that Ruby’s OK, and back to being the bouncy pup we all know and love.