‘This never happens to puppies’ – except for T.J.

WALTHAM, Mass. – A 9-week-old Labrador retriever puppy named T.J. was reunited with his family after undergoing emergency surgery Tuesday to correct an unusual and potentially deadly

TJ (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)

TJ (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)


The condition itself – bloat – is not uncommon. But it is extremely rare for a puppy to suffer from bloat, according to Dr. Erin McGowan, a board-certified critical care specialist with BluePearl.

“I’ve never seen it in a puppy this young,” she said. “It’s far more common among older dogs.”

Bloat, also known as gastric dilation and volvulus or GDV, occurs when the stomach is distended with gas. If left untreated, it can kill a dog within a few hours.

McGowan credits the owners with saving the puppy’s life by immediately bringing him to BluePearl. “If it hadn’t been for their quick action, we might not have had the good result that we did,” she added.

The problem began on Monday evening, said Keaton Beams, the puppy’s owner. He said TJ – short for Thunder Jr. – began retching and acting strangely.

“It was clear he was sick,” Beams said. “But I thought he had eaten something that he shouldn’t have.”

Beams has a lot of experience with dogs eating peculiar things. His previous pup, a Lab named Thunder, had a habit of gobbling socks, rat poison – even a stash of Halloween candy, including the pillowcase holding the loot.

Based on his experience, Beams knew TJ had to get to the emergency vet right away. As a specialty and emergency hospital, BluePearl is open 24-7 and has the advanced equipment and skilled clinicians necessary to treat complex conditions such as bloat.

Dr. Mary Ann Nieves, who is board-certified in veterinary surgery, performed surgery on T.J. During the procedure, she untwisted the puppy’s stomach and sutured it to the body wall to prevent it from happening again.

While veterinarians aren’t sure what causes bloat, certain breeds tend to be more at risk for the condition, including Great Danes, German shepherds and boxers.

By Tuesday evening, TJ was back to his bouncy puppy self again. Beams said he’s excited to be reunited with the puppy. Although he’s only had TJ since the day after Thanksgiving, he’s already part of the family.

“He fit right in,” Beams said. “He’s a really great dog.”