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Look What the Dog Swallowed!

It's been said that dogs will eat anything, whether it tastes good or not, and regardless of whether it is edible. Some dogs not only eat weird things, but they eat as much of it as they can. Here are eight recent stories that illustrate that point.

Rubber Duck

Ozzie is a Staffordshire terrier from Cubbington, England. About a year ago, he was tussling with another dog over a rubber duck. Ozzie established his rights to the toy by swallowing it whole. The vets couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the x-ray, since most dogs chew their toys up before swallowing them. Ozzie required surgery to remove the duck, but made a rapid recovery.

Fish Hooks

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Toby is a rescue dog who had been abused and abandoned before being adopted by Brian Sales. Sales keep his fishing tackle box high off the floor, but curious Toby managed to get into it and swallow a dozen fish hooks, which on this occasion were loaded with bait. Sales rushed Toby to a veterinary clinic. Doctors said that the greatest danger would have been if the hooks caught in the dog's throat, but they had instead passed to the stomach. Because of the shape of fish hooks, they were able to pass through the dog naturally, and in record time because Toby is allergic to the fish that the hooks were baited with!

Cell Phone

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Nero is a Great Dane-Doberman crossbreed. The rather large dog from Pretoria, South Africa snatched a cell phone from his owner's daughter's hand and swallowed it in the blink of an eye. Nero was immediately taken to the veterinary clinic, where he was x-rayed and then had surgery to remove the phone. The vets found stones in Nero's stomach along with the phone. Nero recovered, but the cell phone never worked again.

Rocks

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Chester, who lives in Bangor, Maine, was attracted to the rocks around the family barbecue, because of those delicious drippings splattered on them. So he went a little overboard. Instead of swallowing one or two rocks, Chester ingested a total of six pounds of rocks! The vet said he's never seen anything like it. Chester was able to pass the stones naturally, so no surgery was necessary.

Homer Simpson

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A ten-year-old Dalmatian named Dixie lost her appetite and behaved strangely, so her owner took her to a veterinary clinic in Aberdeen, Scotland. An x-ray revealed that Dixie had swallowed a plastic egg with a plastic Homer Simpson toy inside. The goods had originally been inside a chocolate egg that Dixie got hold of. Vets removed the figurine from the dog's intestine, and she is fine now.

Dog

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Joanne Dutton of Wilmsly, England took her dog Alfie to the vet when he became ill and wouldn't eat. The x-rays showed there was a dog inside the dog. Alfie had stolen a miniature dog figurine from a dollhouse belonging to Dutton's daughter Madeline. Vets performed surgery to remove the toy.

Joanne said: "Alfie is back to normal again now - running around like a lunatic."

Golf Balls

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Bertie is pointer/bloodhound mix who lives in Great Totham, England. His owner, 12-year-old Ben Jewell saw him eat a golfball and so Bertie was taken to a clinic. X-rays revealed this was not the first time Bertie wolfed down a golf ball. A total of nine balls were inside the dog! During surgery to remove the balls, veterinarians found a completely unrelated surprise: a bullet was lodged in the tissue of Bertie's abdomen, indicating he'd been shot at some time. The bullet was removed as well as the golf balls, and Bertie has recovered.

Arrow

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Just last week, Betty, an 8-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier somehow managed to swallow a plastic toy arrow that was almost as long as her body! Her owner Emma Watson (not the actress) noticed she was sick a day later and took her to Thamesmead PDSA PetAid Hospital, where the arrow was found by x-ray. The arrow was 10.5 inches long, and extended from her throat to her small intestine. It was removed surgically, and Betty was on her feet in no time. But Watson had to keep a close eye on her.

'She doesn't appear to have learned her lesson because as soon as she got home she tried to eat the TV remote control so we're keeping a very close eye on her now to prevent anything like this from happening again.'

See also: X-rays in the News and 10 Odd Things Swallowed, with X-ray Evidence.

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7 Health Tips From Ancient Physicians
Portrait of Galen
Portrait of Galen

If you feel bombarded by conflicting advice on how to stay (or get) healthy, you’re not alone. Intermittent fasting, juice cleanses, and low-carb diets are a few of today’s health trends, but fashionable health advice is nothing new. Consider these health tips from ancient physicians, which range from surprisingly relevant to downright absurd. (Just don't consider any of it actual medical advice, of course—that's what modern physicians are for.)

1. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DREAMS.

Galen, a Greek physician who treated Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius among others, wrote hundreds of texts about medicine starting around 150 CE. Galen believed that what you dream about can indicate your overall level of wellness and reveal specific ailments you might be suffering from. Before you call him a quack, keep in mind that he acknowledged that some dreams are simply a random assortment of the day’s events, rather than a direct message about the state of one’s health. As he wrote in On Diagnosis in Dreams:

“The vision-in-sleep [dream], in my opinion, indicates a disposition of the body. Someone dreaming a conflagration is troubled by yellow bile, but if he dreams of smoke, or mist, or deep darkness, by black bile. Rainstorm indicates that cold moisture abounds; snow, ice, and hail, cold phlegm. ... But since in sleep the soul does not produce impressions based on dispositions of the body only, but also from the things habitually done by us day by day, and some from what we have thought—and indeed some things are revealed by it in fashion of prophesy ... the diagnosis of the body from the visions-in-sleep that arise from the body becomes difficult.”

2. DON’T CHANGE YOUR DIET TOO QUICKLY.

Line engraving of Hippocrates
Hippocrates

Greek physician Hippocrates, now known as the father of medicine, wrote several works chock full of health advice. In On Ancient Medicine (written around 400 BCE, although the dates and authorship of the text are somewhat disputed), he explains the wisdom of treading slowly when it comes to making adjustments to your diet. As he explains it, some people are used to eating only one meal per day, while others feel better eating two meals per day. If someone who is accustomed to eating once per day suddenly adds another meal to his schedule, disease can occur.

“But there are certain persons who cannot readily change their diet with impunity; and if they make any alteration in it for one day, or even for a part of a day, are greatly injured thereby. Such persons, provided they take dinner when it is not their wont, immediately become heavy and inactive, both in body and mind, and are weighed down with yawning, slumbering, and thirst; and if they take supper in addition, they are seized with flatulence, tormina [abdominal pain], and diarrhea, and to many this has been the commencement of a serious disease, when they have merely taken twice in a day the same food which they have been in the custom of taking once.”

3. DRINKING TOO MUCH BOOZE CAN CAUSE PIMPLES.

As Galen explains in the Art of Physick, people with high body heat, red cheeks, and a cheerful disposition have a sanguine complexion. Such people, he argues, are more prone to certain conditions such as fevers and phlegm. Luckily, Galen tells sanguine patients how to achieve an optimal diet and exercise program for their body type. He warns that drinking too much beer, ale, and wine can cause a variety of maladies, including scabs, abscesses, fevers, and red pimples.

“Inordinate drinking of strong beer, ale, and wine, breeds hot rhewms scabs and itch, St. Anthony’s fire [a skin infection], quinsies [an infection behind the tonsils], pleuresies [pain when breathing], inflammations, fevers, and red pimples.”

4. BEANS AND FLOWERS CAN FIGHT DYSENTERY.

In On Regimen in Acute Diseases, Hippocrates lays out an easy plan for fighting dysentery, an intestinal infection that causes severe diarrhea. Luckily, no pharmacists are needed for this treatment, but you will have to track down some beans and plant shoots, if you don’t already have them on hand.

“For dysentery. A fourth part of a pound of cleaned beans, and twelve shoots of madder [a Eurasian plant] having been triturated [ground to a fine powder], are to be mixed together and boiled, and given as a linctus [a medicinal syrup] with some fatty substance."

5. IF YOU’RE PREGNANT, STAY AWAY FROM HAMMOCKS.

Detail of a woodcut depicting ancient herbalists and scholars, including Soranus
Detail of a woodcut depicting ancient herbalists and scholars, including Soranus

Scholars credit Sushruta as one of the earliest surgeons and the author of The Sushruta Samhita, a Sanskrit medical text written sometime around 600 BCE. The text warns pregnant women to avoid certain activities, such as fasting, falling, and taking medicine that causes vomiting. But some of the guidelines may sound strange to modern readers. According to Sushruta, pregnant women should not ride a horse, swing on a hammock, or sit on uneven ground, lest those activities cause the fetus to prematurely detach from the uterus.

“Sexual intercourse during pregnancy, riding on horseback, etc., or in any sort of conveyance, a long walk, a false step, a fall, pressure on the womb, running, a blow, sitting or lying down on an uneven ground, or in an uneven posture, fasting … use of emetics or purgatives, swinging in a swing or hammock, indigestion, and use of medicines which induce the labor pain or bring about abortions, and such like causes tend to expel the fetus from its fixture. These causes tend to sever the child from the uterine wall with its placental attachment owing to a kind of Abhighatam (uterine contraction) just as a blow tends to sever a fruit from its pedicel.”

6. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GET PREGNANT, TRY SNEEZING.

Soranus, a Greek physician who worked in Rome around the early 2nd century CE, had plenty to say about menstruation, contraception, and abortion. As he wrote in Gynecology, sneezing can expel semen from a woman’s body and serve as an effective birth control method. Just remember to squat before you start sneezing.

“And during the sexual act, at the critical moment of coitus when the man is about to discharge the seed, the woman must hold her breath and draw herself away a little, so that the seed may not be hurled too deep into the cavity of the uterus. And getting up immediately and squatting down, she should induce sneezing and carefully wipe the vagina all round; she might even drink something cold.”

7. USE BURNING IRON TO CURE YOUR HEMORRHOIDS.

Hippocrates wrote at length about hemorrhoids, and his writings on the subject survive to this day. In On Hemorrhoids (400 BCE), he offers several methods to remove the offending piles. One of his tricks, which entails burning the hemorrhoids with pieces of hot iron, requires the patient to purge the day before. Sounds like fun.

“I recommend seven or eight small pieces of iron to be prepared, a fathom in size, in thickness like a thick specillum [speculum], and bent at the extremity, and a broad piece should be on the extremity, like a small obolus. Having on the preceding day first purged the man with medicine, on the day of the operation apply the cautery. Having laid him on his back, and placed a pillow below the breech, force out the anus as much as possible with the fingers, and make the irons red-hot, and burn the pile until it be dried up, and so as that no part may be left behind. And burn so as to leave none of the hemorrhoids unburnt, for you should burn them all up.”

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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Bill Gates is Spending $100 Million to Find a Cure for Alzheimer's
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Not everyone who's blessed with a long life will remember it. Individuals who live into their mid-80s have a nearly 50 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's, and scientists still haven't discovered any groundbreaking treatments for the neurodegenerative disease [PDF]. To pave the way for a cure, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has announced that he's donating $100 million to dementia research, according to Newsweek.

On his blog, Gates explained that Alzheimer's disease places a financial burden on both families and healthcare systems alike. "This is something that governments all over the world need to be thinking about," he wrote, "including in low- and middle-income countries where life expectancies are catching up to the global average and the number of people with dementia is on the rise."

Gates's interest in Alzheimer's is both pragmatic and personal. "This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s," he said. "I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew."

Experts still haven't figured out quite what causes Alzheimer's, how it progresses, and why certain people are more prone to it than others. Gates believes that important breakthroughs will occur if scientists can understand the condition's etiology (or cause), create better drugs, develop techniques for early detection and diagnosis, and make it easier for patients to enroll in clinical trials, he said.

Gates plans to donate $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund that supports Alzheimer's research and treatment developments. The rest will go to research startups, Reuters reports.

[h/t Newsweek]

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