Benji needs emergency surgery to remove three-foot Christmas decoration

German Shepherd Benji needed major emergency surgery after scoffing nearly three feet of tinsel.

The eight-year-old wolfed down the festive decorations before owner Olivia Mullen even had a chance to put them on the tree.

Shocking X-rays at the Vets Now pet emergency hospital in Manchester showed some 80cm of shiny tinsel inside the ailing dog.

Thanks to the skill of the veterinary team who carried out a lengthy operation to remove it, Benji is well on the way to recovery and is looking forward to a happy Christmas.

Now relieved Olivia, an animal care assistant at the hospital, is backing vets’ calls for owners to beware of festive hazards to save their animals from holiday agonies.

  1. Benji's tinsel trauma

    Eight-year-old Benji got himself into a tangle when he wolfed down nearly three feet of tinsel

    Image of Benji the German shepherd for Vets Now article on dog ate tinsel
  2. Benji's tinsel trauma

    Benji’s owner Olivia rushed him to Vets Now’s pet emergency hospital in Manchester, where she works as an animal care assistant

    Image of Benji the German shepherd for Vets Now article on dog ate tinsel

Benji had never given Olivia any concerns until the recent incident.

“This is the first time he’s ever done anything like this,” said Olivia, 24. “He doesn’t even go after shoes or toys, so it was a total surprise.

“The tree wasn’t up yet and he had actually gone rooting through a box. I was working and my mum called me to say he had eaten some tinsel.

“I was really shocked, but she said he had vomited some back up and I thought we’d wait and see how it went.”

Olivia sought the expert advice of her colleagues at the Vets Now hospital, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, before deciding to rush him in in the early hours of the morning.

By that stage, the normally bouncy, full-of-life pet was unusually quiet, and still being sick.

Blood tests didn’t indicate anything of concern, but when Benji was sedated for X-rays, the shocking picture of what had happened emerged.

Image of an x-ray for Vets Now article on dog ate tinsel
Benji's X-ray shows the tinsel in his stomach (©Vets Now)

“It was really quite horrific,” said Olivia. “I couldn’t believe he had eaten so much tinsel.

“You could clearly see it was all tangled up and I knew right away he’d need emergency surgery.

“I see poorly animals on a daily basis at work, but when it came to my own dog, I was an absolute mess.

“I was so upset and worried, but I knew he was in the best possible hands. I was given the option of waiting to have the operation done at my own daytime vet but I wanted the Vets Now team to do it because I trust them totally.”

A lengthy surgical procedure was required to remove the tangled web of tinsel, wrapped spaghetti-like all around Benji’s stomach.

But he thankfully came through it and after three nights’ care, a delighted Olivia was finally able to take her beloved pet home.

Now the wounds are healing nicely and he is back to his old self just in time for Christmas.

But the festive period is full of hazards for pets and the Vets Now team are warning of the dangers posed by foodstuffs such as chocolate and mince pies as well as batteries and, of course, tinsel and decorations.

  1. Benjis tinsel trauma

    Benji needed surgery to remove the tinsel which was tangled around his stomach

    Image of Benji the German shepherd for Vets Now article on dog ate tinsel
  2. Benji's tinsel trauma

    And thankfully after spending three nights being cared for at the hospital, Olivia was able to take her beloved Benji home

    Image of Benji the German shepherd and owner Olivia for Vets Now article on dog ate tinsel

Olivia added: “The fact that Benji had never had any interest in chewing things before just goes to show that you can never be complacent and always need to be vigilant.”

David Owen, one of the emergency vets who treated Benji, said: “Shiny tinsel can be very attractive to both dogs and cats but, like anything stringy, it’s extremely dangerous if swallowed.

“In veterinary medicine, we call this a linear foreign body. If the tinsel anchors itself in the stomach it can’t then pass through the intestines and can slowly cut through the tissue like cheese wire.

“This can cause severe damage to the pet’s intestinal tract.

“If you suspect your dog or cat has swallowed tinsel, or anything similar such as ribbon or thread, don’t wait for signs or symptoms to appear before you act. Call your daytime vet straight away or, if it’s out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or hospital.

“It’s also worth keeping festive decorations and other Christmas hazards, such as chocolate and mince pies, well out of your pet’s reach.”

Vets Now’s pet emergency hospital in Manchester is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and hospitals open throughout Christmas and New Year. All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and a veterinary nurse on-site at all times.

We also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, our experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.

If a pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, we will refund the online consultation fee, so owners never pay twice.