Whitchurch's Leonard Brothers Veterinary Centre have once again found a patient whose story deserves to be told.

LBVC's Steve Leonard takes up the tale...

Magic Merlin amazed his mummy one Sunday by making eight Ibuprofen tablets disappear in a cloud of shredded cardboard! Clever old Merlin. His mummy was so impressed with him that she whisked him into the car for a lovely trip to see Tom at the vets!

Ibuprofen is a very potent painkiller that is absorbed very quickly so even though mummy had acted very quickly, Tom wasn't able to make him sick to get the tablets out. At high doses, it can cause life threatening stomach ulcers and permanently damage the kidneys.

Merlin didn't know this (and still doesn't – dogs do not 'learn' from their scavenging mishaps, with many repeating the offence many times over, especially with chocolate) so he didn't realise why his tummy hurt and why he was drooling so much.

Intravenous fluids and gut protectants were started and he was fed some lovely activated charcoal to try and absorb any remaining drugs from his system.

Over the next 48 hours Merlin was monitored with repeated blood tests and thankfully they showed no damage to his kidneys, however his stomach wasn't doing as well. Ultrasound examination of his belly revealed very angry looking membranes next to his stomach with excess fluid sloshing around.

This suggested the acid in his stomach was likely burning a hole in his stomach wall (ibuprofen stops the mechanism that turns off stomach acid production). Merlin wasn't feeling so magic any more and the decision was made to saw him in half (or at least open him up to take a look).

Once inside Merlin's tummy I was able to see that his stomach was very close to bursting with a clearly damaged portion starting to come apart. This section of the stomach wall had to be carefully removed and the resulting hole closed. I had never seen such an unhappy stomach in my career before with the whole lining looking black and bruised.

The abdomen was flushed with lots of warm saline to remove any contamination and Merlin was woken up with a kiss (standard operating procedure for magical cases – works every time).

Having seen Merlin's scorched stomach lining first hand, I knew his appetite wasn't really going to be its normal self so a feeding tube was placed in the side of Merlin's neck allowing us to feed him small meals without stressing him out. Merlin was nursed back to health over the next six days with lots of fuss, medication and frequent feeding.

Just over a week after eating those naughty tablets he was eating and happy so we could pull out his feeding tube like a sword from a stone! Merlin was a very lucky dog to come through this ordeal alive.

Thanks to the swift action of his owner and the hard work of our nursing team we were able to get him back on his feet again after such major surgery.

So what's the moral of this magical tale?


1) Dogs will find and eat anything that smells of food and many human medications are flavoured to make them palatable so get them well out of reach as even a child proof bottle is no match for a dog's mouth.

2) Don't wait for symptoms to develop if you think your dog has eaten something it shouldn't. If Merlin's mummy had waited until we were open on Monday, Merlin would not be with us today.