Naughty Basil suffers ‘linear foreign body’ while in the doghouse for stealing sausage roll

A greedy beagle called Basil bit off more than he could chew – when he pinched a sausage roll and then munched through a towel.

The four-year-old needed major emergency surgery at Vets Now in Chippenham after the towel become tangled in his intestine.

The drama began when always-hungry Basil rushed into the kitchen as owner Natalie McLaren took out home-made sausage rolls from the oven.

While Natalie’s back was turned, cheeky Basil jumped up, grabbed one of the sausage rolls, and then tried to run off with it.

Natalie wrestled it off him — then sent Basil in disgrace to the pet equivalent of the naughty step: his crate.

And she did what she always does when Basil has been up to no good – she placed a towel over the top to stop him seeing out and barking the house down.

Except for this time, the mischievous beagle was wise to it. He slowly gnawed a hole in the towel and took great delight in peeping through.

Image of Basil the beagle for Vets Now article on linear foreign body
Basil with Natalie and Rhys

Teaching assistant Natalie, 34, tried not to laugh but her kids Mia, 10, and Rhys, seven, were in fits.

Later that evening, Basil wasn’t himself. Natalie stayed up with him all night to keep a close eye and he seemed to settle by 4am. But the next day Natalie, of Melksham, Wilts, came home from work to find him retching and clearly in discomfort.

She called the Hale veterinary hospital in Langley Road who, because it was a Friday evening, arranged for Basil to be transferred into the care of our out-of-hours pet emergency vets and vet nurses.

What followed was 48 hours of drama during which three separate incisions into Basil’s intestine were needed to remove bits of towel – with a gastrotomy (incision into the stomach) performed as well.

It was touch and go as to whether he would survive. But against the odds, he pulled through and was well enough to go home three days later.

Natalie said: “To be quite honest, it would have been a whole lot less drama and much less hassle to have just let Basil have the sausage roll.

“But at the time I was thinking, ‘No way Basil – I’ve just made these for the kids’ tea. You can’t just have the dog helping himself!’ The vets told us he was really in the balance. We nearly lost him. And when he got home he was on 12 tablets a day for his recovery.”

Basil has now made a full recovery and is back to his mischievous best. So much so that Natalie is having to weigh down the lid of her kitchen bin with cookery books to stop Basil getting in for scraps.

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Image of Basil the beagle, the dog who ate a towel
Basil enjoying a day at the beach

Elizabeth Sharples, principal vet at Vets Now in Chippenham, said Basil, who is a patient of Hale vets, was in some pain when he was admitted.

She said: “Linear foreign bodies, such as string, thread, and in Basil’s case, strips of towel, can lead to the small intestine bunching up and being cut through like cheese wire.

“They’re also often anchored at the exit from the stomach so, as in Basil’s case, can need an incision into the stomach as well. Surgery to remove them is never straightforward so we were concerned.”

Elizabeth added: “Another issue with linear foreign bodies is they can be difficult to identify on x-rays. So on the basis of Basil’s clinical signs, repeated x-rays, clinical examination and on discussion with Pam, the admitting vet at Hale, I carried out an exploratory ‘ex-lap’ operation and discovered the towel had made its way through Basil’s small intestine.

“Thankfully, we managed to remove all the material and, over the course of the weekend, his condition slowly but steadily improved. He was transferred back to Hale on Monday morning.

We have a very close working relationship with them and Basil’s case shows the value of that.”

The Vets Now clinic in Chippenham, where Basil received treatment, was recently rated as “outstanding” in emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

It’s one of 60 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.

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