Spaniel Rudi rushed 100 miles to pet emergency hospital for specialist veterinary treatment

A dog miraculously cheated death after swallowing a stick measuring 26cm while out for a walk.

Two-year-old Rudi had to be rushed 100 miles from Fort William to Glasgow for specialist treatment at Vets Now’s pet emergency hospital because of the severity of his injuries.

Vets were amazed he made it that far as the stick was just millimetres from severing an artery.

Owner James Clark is still baffled how the accident happened.

“Rudi was running ahead of me when all of sudden I heard him make a noise,” James explained. “When he came out of the trees he was limping and appeared to be choking.

“I opened his mouth and I could see a stick at the bottom of his throat. But it was too far down to pull out. He hadn’t been running with a stick so maybe he’d just run onto it. Rudi has so much energy and dashes about at 100pmh.

“As it turns out, it was probably a good thing there was no chance of me pulling it out when you think of what he then had to go through.”

Image of stick removed from dog for Vets Now article on dog stick injury
The stick removed from Rudi was an incredible 26cm

James took Rudi to a vet near his home in Fort William. But his injuries were so severe, and potentially so complicated, he was referred to Vets Now in Glasgow. The hospital is staffed by some of the country’s leading veterinary specialists — and saves the lives of thousands of critically-ill pets every year.

So James embarked on a two-and-a-half hour drive to the hospital, with a road closure adding an extra hour to his already stressful journey. On arrival, the veterinary surgeons examined Rudi and discovered the stick lodged at one end in his throat and at the other under his foreleg.

They then embarked on the delicate and highly complex task of removing it. After the mammoth operation, Rudi needed 52 staples.

Image of dog injured by stick recovered and playing outside for Vets Now article on dog stick
Rudi needed 52 staples after undergoing an operation to remove a stick

James is full of praise for the staff who saved Rudi’s life.

He said: “The staff at the hospital were amazing and the surgeon phoned me to let me know Rudi’s operation had been a success. She said he was a very lucky dog because if it the stick had gone one or two millimetres either way it would have severed the artery and it would have been curtains.

“Thankfully, Rudi is back to normal now, which is surprising considering the extent of his injuries. You’d never even know it had even happened to him. It’s amazing how resilient dogs are.”

James is confident Rudi will soon be back helping him in the fields around their home, where the pair work together managing the local deer population.

Fui Yap, the European specialist who operated on Rudi, said: “Rudi was incredibly fortunate the stick missed all the vital structures. He required intensive and complex treatment and was in the hospital for several days.

“It’s wonderful to hear he is now back on his feet but his case highlights the dangers of sticks to dogs. Stick injuries are more common than many people think and can result in serious infections and other complications.”

Image of scar left on dog after surgery to remove stick for Vets Now article on dog stick injury
A close up image of Rudi's post-operation scar

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Academics from the Royal Veterinary College found dogs suffer as many injuries playing with sticks as they do on Britain’s roads. Professor Dan Brockman said: “Several dogs involved in our study died as a result of their stick injury and these deaths almost always involved resistant bacteria and infection that spread from the neck to the chest.”

The Vets Now pet emergency hospital in Glasgow — where Rudi received treatment — is regarded as one of the finest facilities of its kind in the UK.

It’s one of three Vets Now hospitals across the UK that are open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur. All of Vets Now’s 58 clinics and hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.

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Why do dogs like sticks?

Dogs enjoy nothing more than chewing on wood, which is why sticks have been their favourite plaything since the beginning of time. Many also love fetching things, just as some humans enjoy playing sports. Unfortunately, however, sticks are not good for your dog. There is a danger splinters from the wood could cause cuts to their mouths and tongues and there are also risks around sticks getting stuck in their throats.