But after accidentally eating the foil from a disposable BBQ, Pluto turns his nose up at it and has become a vegetarian.His owner Robin Dixon, 60, came across shards of an aluminium tray scattered across his garden after Pluto had tucked into the foil, thinking the meat residue stuck to it was a tasty treat.
Initially, he just monitored Pluto but after a few days, it was clear he had a painful tummy and he was rushed to the vets.
Pluto was given some medicine to help the jagged metal he had swallowed to pass on out but it didn’t help.But another appointment two days later showed both a blockage in 13-year-old Pluto’s intestines – and a cancerous tumour on his testicle, which never would have been discovered had he not scoffed the BBQ.
Luckily, he is now doing much better, but he has completely shunned meat following his traumatic experience five months ago, and now loves nothing more than digging up radishes and carrots from the garden.
Programme manager Robin, who lives in Maidenhead, Berkshire, with his wife Tanya, 46, a childminder, said: ‘Pluto has become a vegetarian now. He loves hard vegetables and we also give him rice.
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‘He’s always out in the garden digging up carrots and radishes. He’s mad about radishes but carrots are his favourite. If you’ve got a carrot, he will follow you around.
‘Before the incident, we always tried to give him a mix of solid biscuits and tinned meat, as well as allowing him treats like sausages.
‘But now, he will turn his nose up at meat, so we’ve stopped giving it to him.’Robin explained how he adopted Pluto from a rescue centre 11 years ago in his native South Africa, where he was living at the time. Alongside another golden retriever, Venus, who died of cancer in December 2017, Pluto was brought from Johannesburg back to Maidenhead, spending six months in quarantine before he was finally able to go and live with Robin and his family. ‘Pluto was about two years old when we got him, we think. He had been bounced between homes and was quite a tough dog,’ explained Robin.
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‘When my son was a toddler, he would play with his tail, but Pluto wasn’t bothered – he is great with children.
‘He has a big heart and loves his walks. Even though he’s getting older and struggling now, he doesn’t let that worry him.
‘He’s had a tough upbringing, and wasn’t really looked after at the beginning of his life in South Africa, but despite that, he’s a really lovely dog.’
Robin always fed Pluto a mixture of biscuits and tinned meat but his diet completely changed following the fateful BBQ incident at the end of April this year.
Robin recalled: ‘The day after the family BBQ I went outside and saw the foil disposable tray, which had meat residue on, was scattered all over the garden.
‘I gathered all the pieces and put it back together, but there were bits missing. I thought, ‘Uh oh, I know where that has gone’.
‘I read up on the internet about how dangerous it was for dogs, and how the sharp bits could cut into the intestines or cause a blockage. It could be really nasty.’For the next 48 hours, Robin kept an eye on him and noticed he was in pain so he booked Robin booked an emergency out-of-hours appointment with Vets Now in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, where they gave him some medication for Pluto’s gastrointestinal issues.
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Unfortunately, the problems continued.
Robin continued: ‘We took him home, and the medication helped him go to the loo – but then, we noticed there was blood in his stools.
‘Plus, he had gone off his food completely.’
Two days later, Pluto got an appointment with his regular vet, who decided the pet now needed an ultrasound, which showed a blockage in his intestines and also brought up a cancerous tumour on his testicle.
He was given painkillers and more medication to try to remove the foil.
A couple of days after that, Pluto had a scrotal ablation to remove both his testicles.
At first, he struggled to pass the remainder of the foil which was causing him pain in his belly, and his owners were worried he may not make it.
But after two weeks, he was back to his normal self, wagging his tail and excited about going for walks.
After speaking to the vet, Robin decided to put Pluto on a wheat-free diet, as it was thought that may be better for his digestive tract, and they discovered he now prefered the meat-free options.
With Pluto turning his nose up at meat following the incident, he is now following a vegetarian diet.
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And Robin says that, since making the switch, he has never been healthier, is full of energy and regular as clockwork.
He concluded: ‘The BBQ seems to have put him right off meat – he doesn’t eat it at all now.
‘These days, he is always positive and wagging his tail.
‘He’s kept his virility and edge, even after the operation. He’s like a little mountain lion sometimes when he’s protecting the house.
‘When he goes to the loo it’s not bad smelling and, even though he isn’t as steady on his feet due to old age and a bit of arthritis, he doesn’t even realise – he’s just so full of energy.
‘Being vegetarian seems to be working really well.’Laura Playforth, veterinary standards director at Vets Now said: ‘As Pluto’s case shows, we see a number of unusual barbecue-related injuries and poisonings at this time of year.
‘These are often caused by dogs eating cooked bones, developing food poisoning, swallowing things like kebab skewers, or sustaining burn injuries from piping hot food.
‘Owners should also be aware that while carrots and radishes are great for dogs in moderation, any fertiliser, plant food or compost used to encourage their growth is likely to be poisonous, so wash any veg thoroughly and avoid using them if possible.’
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