Corn on the cob danger’s something to chew over

Teresa Roxburgh with Izzy, who needed an operation to remove corn cobs from her stomach and intestine
Teresa Roxburgh with Izzy, who needed an operation to remove corn cobs from her stomach and intestine
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People making the most of the sunshine by dining alfresco are being warned to discard of corn cobs safely after three city dogs had to undergo operations in as many months to have them removed from their intestines.

The Oak Tree Veterinary Centre has treated a Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever and Dalmatian since the end of June after the trio swallowed corn cobs which then became lodged in their bowels.

Alistair Marks, principal veterinary surgeon at the centre, said: “It is a particularly rough foreign body with a great risk of bowel perforation and death unless dealt with promptly.

“Folk having barbecues need to realise that food left rather than binned can pose a big hazard to pets, and also I would imagine urban wildlife.”

Izzy the Golden Retriever swallowed a corn cob while on holiday just outside Aviemore with her family in July.

Owner Teresa Roxburgh from Corstorphine said she was aware the three-year-old had swallowed something while enjoying a walk next to a loch, where a group of people were clearing up after a barbecue, but had no idea it was a corn cob.

Mrs Roxburgh, 43, said: “The people had discarded bits that they didn’t want on the grass and when Izzy went over, they said it was OK because it was just a couple of bits of sausages and things. I didn’t think anything more about it.”

The mother-of-two added: “A few days later she was a bit sick so I took her to the vets. They couldn’t feel anything and put her on a special diet for a couple of days.

“But two days later she was really unwell so I took her back and they did an endoscopy and an X-ray. There were two huge chunks of corn cob causing big blockages – one in her stomach and one in her small intestine. When I realised it was a corn cob, I was really surprised. She had an operation the same day.”

Mrs Roxburgh, a nurse at Whinpark Medical Centre, said the corn cob had been stuck inside Izzy for almost eight days, which could have proved fatal.

She added: “Izzy has totally recovered now. Her tummy is a bit bald where she’s been shaved, but other than that she’s fine.”

Veterinary surgeon at Oak Tree, Malcolm Leitch, who performed all three dogs’ operations, said: “There seems to have been quite a spate of these cases this year. They’re just small enough to go into the gut but not small enough to get through the other side, so they get suck in the small intestine.

“Unless you take it out within a few days the gut is going to rupture and the dog is going to die.”

Mr Leitch said vomiting and no longer passing faeces were common signs of the problem. He said: “If you’re having a barbecue, make sure you tidy everything away and don’t just assume that it’s going to rot down because it’s biodegradable.”

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com