Suspected tumour hides dog's16-centimetre kebab skewer

Posted on August 23, 2019 by Elliott Payne

BVA’s August 2018 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey showed that a quarter of companion animal vets had treated pets for injuries caused by barbecues last summer. The most common barbecue injuries vets saw were a result of pets eating corn cobs (seen by 56% of companion animal vets), followed closely by damage to the mouth or internal injuries from kebab skewers and cooked bones. Vets also reported treating dogs for burns received from eating hot food off the grill or touching the barbecue or hot coals. Here’s one vet’s account of a dog that had a lucky escape from serious injury.

Sophie, a 9-year-old English Setter who lives with her owner near Reading, was brought in to our practice over this summer’s May Bank Holiday weekend, vomiting. Her owner mentioned seeing her scavenge a kebab during a barbecue but thought she had only eaten the meat off the stick. However, the dog was known for her love for scavenging, having recently eaten (and safely passed out) a toy rabbit and some Sellotape. 

Clear X-ray

An X-ray and laboratory tests didn’t show anything abnormal, so Sophie was treated for suspected gastroenteritis and discharged after 2 days of inpatient care, which seemed to clear her symptoms. Sophie then presented towards the end of June again, with a lump on her left rib. A small sample was sent for laboratory analysis, with results suggesting a possibility of neoplastic cancer.

A scan to find a primary tumour showed up nothing, so we decided to take a biopsy of the mass. When we opened the lump, we found a 16-centimetre kebab skewer protruding through it, which was gently removed through the abdominal wall. Sophie’s recovery post-surgery was very quick, and she was feeling more like herself within a few days post-surgery. 

Advice for pet owners

Sophie was lucky to escape serious injury, but her case highlights the importance of taking extra precautions when holding a barbecue. Our top advice for pet owners is: 

  • Count skewers before use and upon disposal
  • Ensure food and sundries are disposed of where animals cannot get to
  • Keep food and other barbecue equipment safety out of reach of your pets

Elliott Payne

Written by Elliott Payne

Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon

Elliott is a small animal veterinary surgeon based at Larkmead Veterinary Group in South Oxfordshire since 2012, and has an interest in canine medicine and surgery.