Vets Find Tennis Ball Stuck in Stomach of Dog Who Refused to Eat for 5 Days

Vets in Idaho found a tennis ball stuck inside the intestines of a Border Collie, after his family were left with no choice but to pass him into local animal care.

West Valley Humane Society shared that four-year-old Border Collie Guss arrived at the shelter as a medical surrender after not eating for five whole days.

The dog had reportedly been attempting to throw up despite not having eaten anything.

Guss was treated as an emergency case, but what they found was rather surprising. The shelter recognised that they "quickly needed to take action" and went ahead with X-rays.

The images showed that Guss had clearly digested something he should not have.

"We went straight to action to do a complex surgery. We found that whatever was in there had broken through the intestine twice. We had to remove part of the small intestine that had the obstruction in it," they shared the shelter in a Facebook post.

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"When we dissected the piece of intestine that had been perforated, we realized that it was a chunk of tennis ball that had been swallowed."

Somewhat ironically, Border Collies as a breed are known for their obsessions with tennis balls, and owners often head online to share their experiences with the ball-mad canines.

This apparent obsession however soon became unhealthy with the tennis ball causing a blockage in Guss' digestive system.

"This also made Guss feel like he needed to get it out by trying to throw it up. Since it was stuck in there and protruding through his intestines this became impossible for him, making him lose all interest in eating for five days prior to coming in," explained West Valley Humane Society online.

The shelter told Newsweek that Guss is now recovering and doing well: "He is now eating, drinking, and keeping everything down. Yay! He already looks and acts healthier and happier too! We are so thankful he was brought in when he was, so that our clinic staff could perform the lifesaving surgery, before it was too late."

Guss will not go back to his family, West Valley Humane Society explained, telling Newsweek: "He was voluntarily surrendered. In this particular case, the owner said they did not want Guss back."

Local residents shared both sadness and joy at the story, while fellow dog owners in the area, especially of Border Collies, took the story as a warning sign.

"We've got ball chewers and the kids forget to pick them up after playing fetch. This is scary. Glad he's doing better," wrote one dog owner.

Guss after his operation
Guss recovering after his operation. West Valley Humane Society

The shelter is taking the opportunity to warn owners of the serious risk of obstruction when it comes to chewed toys, like tennis balls. "It is fairly common for dogs to have an obstruction, meaning something stuck in a passageway blocking food from moving through the intestinal tract," they said.

"This is more common for dogs who like to tear apart toys, or dogs who like to chew and swallow non food items! Examples other than the tennis ball like Guss had stuck could be a sock or a golf ball. We definitely recommend monitoring your animals when they are chewing on toys that can be torn apart, and keeping other things that they may like to get into, and could swallow, put away or out of reach."

In a similar case just last month, a cat owner was left surprised to find out that their pet had eaten 50 hair bands over the course of 18 months.

The cat had a three-hour operation to remove the clump of hair bands, and has since made a full recovery.

Newsweek has contacted West Valley Humane Society for comment.

Guss after his operation
Guss healing after his operation. West Valley Humane Society

Update 05/12/22, 4:54 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from the shelter.