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Matthew Sisk: Surgery causes concern for Lemmy
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Lemmy returns to the office for his post-surgery recheck.

I look forward to seeing him each time he visits, but I’m worried. And the evidence is the knot in the pit of my stomach.

Lemmy is a great guy, but I removed a significant portion of his small intestine in the aftermath of his underwear ingestion. The short-term risk is more intestine would become unviable and died off. And leakage into the abdominal cavity could be life-threatening.

But we’re two weeks out and the owners haven’t called to report him acting ill. So, that risk is hopefully gone.

But the amount of intestine I removed still causes me to worry.

The intestine acts like a long sponge. It digests Lemmy’s food and then absorbs it for use as nutrition. If you take away enough of the surface area, you can get what is literally called short gut syndrome. It simply means there isn’t enough room to fully digest or fully absorb food and nutrients

Short gut syndrome can lead to malnutrition regardless of diet, and the animal can waste away. Milder cases can yield persistent maldigestion, and loose, sometimes explosive bowel movements that come with it.

Because of this risk, Lemmy is now on a low-residue diet.

Luckily, he’s doing well. His weight is now a half pound more than it was when he underwent surgery. No diarrhea has been noted.

His paw sandwich handshake is the same as ever, and his incision looks great. I remove his stitches and go over the dietary plan.

I love Lemmy’s owners because they listen intently to the plan. When I’m unclear on a detail, they ask. This is what I want. We’re on the same team regarding Lemmy’s health, after all. And I would hate for their recent $2,000 investment to be derailed by lack of follow up.

Lemmy now is banned from all underwear-containing areas, and his outside play is supervised. I hope this is his last exploratory surgery.

Some dogs have a habit of repeating this behavior. Careful management is the key to keep Lemmy from fitting that mold.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at