A sore belly and some interesting tests for Zuzu
Zuzu the 2 year old Maltese cross Shih Tzu. was brought in to see us as he had been vomiting for 3 days. He had also chewed up his lambs wool blanket. Zuzu had been bright and happy and still quite hungry until the third day when he didn't want to eat his dinner and was quiet.
Dr Nathalie thoroughly checked Zuzu over and that he was healthy except he was quite sore in his stomach when palpated. Zuzu was admitted to the hospital for a blood test, intravenous fluids and observation.
An in house blood test was performed called a Packed Cell Volume (PCV) and Total Protein (TP). PCV is a measure of the percentage of red blood cells currently in the pets circulation. A low percentage may indicate anaemia or blood loss. Total Protein measures the amount of proteins in plasma. A high count may indicate dehydration. Zuzu's count for PCV and TP were both high which indicated that he was slightly dehydrated. A full blood profile was sent of to the pathologist.
Zuzu was placed on intravenous fluids because he was dehydrated and because he had lost fluids from vomiting and he was not eating. The fluids help maintain electrolyte balance in his body. Overnight, Zuzu had vomited numerous times. Dr Nathalie decided to take plain radiographs of Zuzu's abdomen. There were no significant findings on these radiographs so it was discussed with the owner to do a barium study. Some materials such as cloth cannot be seen on radiographs. This is why we can wear our clothes when a radiograph is taken of us. If Zuzu had swallowed some material such as a piece of lamb's wool blanket, and it was causing a blockage, then it would not be visible on the radiograph. This is where barium is used.
Barium is a radiopaque contrast material which was syringed into Zuzu's stomach via a stomach tube through the mouth. Barium appears white when radiographed. The Barium travels from the stomach through the small intestine, then the large intestine. Radiographs are then taken at different intervals to make sure it travels all the way through the gastro intestinal tract without stopping. Radiographs were taken once the barium was initially put into the stomach, then 15 minutes later, 30 minutes, 1 hour, then 2 hours later. The barium was moving through properly.
The next morning the last radiograph was taken which showed the barium had reached the rectum. Zuzu did not have an intestinal blockage which was good news for Zuzu and his owner. Zuzu may have had a partial obstruction which had passed. Zuzu was slowly put onto a sensitivity diet, with no signs of vomiting. After spending 3 days in hospital, Zuzu was well enough to go home. Zuzu came back for a revisit with Dr Nathalie, who checked up on his progress and reported that he was doing very well.