Puppy Day: Dexter's Story

Thursday, March 23, 2023

In recognition of Puppy Day today, we tell the story of Dexter - the Hungarian Vizsla puppy who needed emergency treatment after swallowing a TV remote control battery.

For puppies, the world around them is exciting. They explore curiously by using their noses and mouths, often eating anything and everything in their path!  It’s vital to keep everyday objects out of reach to avoid serious health problems.

Four-month-old Hungarian Vizsla, Dexter, grabbed the TV remote control and swallowed a loose battery before owner Sharon, from Stockton-on-Tees in the UK, could stop him. Fearful of the potentially lethal damage from the acid inside, she took him to Swift Referrals, part of My Family Vets and IVC Evidensia Referrals, for an urgent procedure under general anaesthetic.

Sharon says, “Dexter is prone to getting hold of anything, so we always try and keep things out of reach. This particular day, I had accidentally left a TV remote laying around. The back was off it and before I could stop him, he grabbed it and the two AA batteries fell out. I tried to distract him, but he swallowed one of the batteries in a split second. I knew I needed help straight away.”

Acid leaking from typical AA and AAA batteries can cause chemical burns and considerable damage to the oesophagus, stomach, and bowel very quickly after ingestion. Smaller batteries, such as those found in the key fobs of cars, can cause electrical burns inside the patient, often as quickly as 15-30 minutes after being swallowed. These injuries are often severe and can prove fatal. In Dexter’s case, the battery casing was, thankfully, intact and had passed into the stomach, but urgent action was still required.

Veterinary Surgeon at Swift Referrals, Laurence Doddy, says, “We saw Dexter on a Saturday evening after his local vets referred him. Strong stomach acid can corrode a battery, causing the toxic contents to be released and absorbed into the bloodstream. So, under general anaesthesia, we passed an endoscope and, with some delicate manoeuvres, retrieved the missing AA battery. We also retrieved two sections of a leather belt and several twigs which Dexter had also eaten! Hopefully, Dexter will just stick to dog food now, but it’s a warning to owners how quickly puppies can get hold of something and get into a potentially fatal situation.”

If you suspect your puppy may have swallowed something harmful, do not hesitate to call your local vet immediately to help so they can help assess the best course of action.