Duke will be wearing his cone collar for a little while until his surgical wounds have healed. (Supplied: Rachelle Thornton)
Forget toys, sticks or your favourite pair of leather boots — Duke the miniature American shepherd has upped the ante when it comes to weird doggy snacks.
He eats cement.
And while the cement may have been a soft, powdery substance when Duke licked it up off the ground, that changed once water was added.
The dog’s owners Rachelle and Matthew Thornton, from Didillibah on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, first became aware something was amiss was when Duke started vomiting last week.
Ms Thornton thought she might be overreacting because he is still a young dog — he just turned one — and she knows “puppies eat spew and things that upset the stomach”.
But when Duke’s vomiting appeared to be getting worse, the couple took him to their vet, Dr Dan Capps, who felt something hard in the dog’s stomach.
Sunshine Coast vet Dr Dan Capps x-rayed Duke to discover where the concrete had set and caused the internal blockage. (Supplied: Dr Dan Capps)
“He said we had better take an x-ray and there it was, there was something hard in his stomach,” Ms Thornton said.
Initially the couple thought it was one of his toys, but when Dr Capps did an emergency operation, he found hard and gritty sand.
The Thorntons began to suspect the cement render they had been using on their acreage and although they had not left any lying around in bags, there may have been residue on the ground.
No one expected Duke to have an appetite for it.
Rachelle and Matthew Thornton with their cheeky concrete-eating dog, Duke. (Supplied: Rachelle Thornton)
“He must have picked it up and it would been soft in his mouth and he swallowed it,” Ms Thornton said.
“But render forms with water, so it would have gone hard in his bum.”
Towels, socks, lingerie, mango seeds removed this year
The day after surgery, when Duke still had not pooped and his temperature was going up, Dr Capps had to go back in again, from both ends.
Not only did he have to cut open Duke’s intestines to remove the hard blockage inside, he also had to “pull quite a bit out of the colon”.
Dr Capps said puppies were known to “eat anything and then get blocked” and in this case, Duke’s blockage was “very hard and dense”.
“We had to mine it out in one portion with forceps,” he said of the collection of about 900g of sand and concrete render he removed.
“It’s amazing what we can pull out from the intestines.
“I’ve removed a towel eaten by a Labrador that it was pooping out the back end.
“This year I’ve also removed socks, mango seeds, macadamia nuts, stones, lingerie and of course, the common half-chewed bone.
“And it’s not only dogs; cats can do it too. I’ve removed 18 hair ties from one cat’s stomach”.
Duke will stay under observation for a few months and is expected to make a full recovery. (Supplied: Rachelle Thornton)
By far the most common obstruction was a corn cob.
“They are a really common blockage that we have to cut open and get out,” Dr Capps said.
Photographing the poop
Duke spent four days at the veterinary surgery and for a while it was not certain he would pull through.
“It was very emotional, it was touch and go,” Ms Thornton said.
Once Duke was finally able to go home, it was a nervous watch to ensure his first toilet business was of the right consistency.
“We were so excited when he did a runnyish pooh, we even took a photo of it,” Ms Thornton said.
While Duke will remain under observation for a few months, he is expected to make a full recovery.
The ordeal also cost the Thorntons a couple of thousand dollars and a lot of stress, but Ms Thornton said Duke was worth every cent.