Julie Veidman from Liverpool noticed something was wrong with one-year-old Ralph after he was sick overnight, could not keep water down and refused his favourite treat.
She immediately called the veterinary charity PDSA for help.
After hearing Ralph’s symptoms during a phone appointment, the vet advised her to bring him to Huyton PDSA Pet Hospital straight away.
Once Julie and Ralph arrived he was inspected. PDSA Vet Lizzie Whitton said: “We examined Ralph and could feel something in his tummy – with his other symptoms we immediately suspected he’d eaten something he shouldn’t.
“An x-ray confirmed that there was some kind of blockage in his intestines. This can quickly become fatal, so we took him straight into emergency surgery.”
Julie was sent home to wait for news regarding Ralph’s surgery. “Walking away from the Pet Hospital holding his empty lead was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she said. “He’d never been left on his own before. Although he’s young and otherwise healthy, I had been made aware of the risks of this emergency surgery and I couldn’t help but fear the worst.”
Vet Lizzie continued: “Any type of surgery carries risk, and intestinal procedures can come with additional complications, but thankfully Ralph’s operation went very well. However we were all shocked when we removed a face mask from inside him!”
Julie was also shocked when she heard that Ralph had swallowed a face covering, she said: “We think he must’ve stolen it from my daughter’s bag in the night. He always had a liking for socks and sometimes knickers too, so we always keep things like that well away from him. We never thought he’d actually eat a face mask!”
Julie was very relieved to wen she got the call that Ralph was out of surgery and he was woken up in the recovery ward.
“PDSA were amazing, they were so quick to respond and so caring – they have literally saved his life. We were able to take him home soon afterwards, he needed some tablets for pain relief and plenty of TLC and although he had a little blip in the middle of his recovery as he refused to rest; two weeks later he’s completely recovered.
Julie also issued a warning about the dangers of discarded face masks and how easy it may be for dogs to eat and swallow them. “It worries me as you see masks discarded all over the place right now, and Ralph is living proof that dogs might eat them and suffer serious consequences.”
The PDSA is the UK’s only veterinary charity, and they provide 1.7 million veterinary treatments every year to prevent the suffering of animals. Julie turned to the PDSA because she had to stop work earlier in the year and does not have any income at the moment.
She said: “Without PDSA, we would’ve lost Ralph. He’s been my absolute rock through lockdown, I don’t know what we would’ve done without him.”