Do Vegetarians Eat Chicken?
By Glenn Kalick, D.V.M. / April 1, 2015

A client asked to talk to me prior to dropping their dog off for boarding. Their Boxer Max was having some diarrhea and had not been eating so well the past few days. She asked me to take a look at him, but Max always seems to know when the owner goes out of town and has intestinal "issues" when he sees the suitcases. I told the owner that I would give him a physical examination, give him medication for the loose stool if needed, but would try to keep him on his hypoallergenic diet.

Max's stool was a little soft, but what was alarming was the three-pound weight loss, considering I saw him two weeks earlier. He seemed to be in good spirits and was drinking water without vomiting. Max was a frequent boarder, and the kennel staff was as concerned as I was. Max refused his favorite dog treats but was playful with the staff. I reminded the staff not to give him any canned food reserved for dogs that have nervous stomachs because he is on a special vegetarian diet. Day one he didn't eat, so on the night of day two, we broke out the delicious food but he still didn't eat. We had some rotisserie chicken brought into the hospital that day for a continuing education luncheon, and we offered him some breast meat. Max ate it readily, but vomited within 15 minutes. I knew Max's owners were on a cruise, so I emailed them a request to x-ray Max.
Pet Talk

The following day, I received permission via email and quickly discovered that Max had a foreign body in his small intestines. The radiograph showed the foreign body, but there was not enough detail to make a diagnosis of what it was. I sent the radiographs off to a radiologist who agreed with me, so I emailed the owners for permission to perform surgery. The owner okayed the surgery and noted that Max might have been eating less for the past week. She mentioned that she was so busy getting ready for the trip and was certain that Max was depressed over the family leaving. She told me that no trashcans were broken into, there are no kid toys in the house and they did not give him anything to eat other than his vegetarian based diet. I told her that we won't know what the foreign object is until after surgery, but Max was in good condition for the surgery, and I would email her the pictures.

Surgery was uncomplicated and successful. We removed three chicken wings from his intestines. The bones were not chewed and sharp. We sent the pictures of the chicken wings along with pictures of Max recovering in his ICU cage to the owners. Within 15 minutes, I received a phone call. The owners were on an island and wanted to talk to me. They were concerned about the chicken wings. The questions were not about whether the sharp pieces perforated the intestines, but about where he could have gotten them. The family is strictly vegetarian. No meat is in the house. I told them that Max doesn't agree with their dietary choice and loves chicken. Either someone in the house is eating chicken wings or he is finding them outside either in the backyard or along the walk. I still smile when I remember the comment when the owner in her best Desi Arnaz impression was saying to her family that "someone's got some 'splainin' to do."

Glenn Kalick, D.V.M. is the owner of Brookside Animal Hospital of Coral Springs

9381 West Sample Road , Suite 203
Coral Springs, FL 33065
Phone: 954-755-9800
Fax: 954-755-2082

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