Updated: Mar 31
A Tamworth family is warning others about the dangers of Cocos Palm seeds after their French Bulldog narrowly escaped death.
Xavier ate up to 30 seeds that led to serious obstruction in his gut, leaving him unable to pass stools and in emergency surgery with less than a 50/50 chance of survival.
The ordeal has been an emotional one for Xavier’s family, with his mum Nikki saying the decision to give him that chance or not had to be a quick one.
“When we had to make the decision, he was already under anaesthesia and open on the table, so for us we just thought why not just give him that chance,” she said.
But Nikki knows this isn’t the case for everyone due to how expensive the procedure is and counts herself lucky that she can pay the bill off with the vet surgery.
Xavier was given less than a 50/50 chance of surviving his surgery.
Dr Melissa Gosson from Tamworth Veterinarian Hospital said although Cocos Palm seeds aren’t necessarily harmful on their own, they do become harmful when they obstruct and stop the gastrointestinal system from working.
“Lots of animals eat Cocos Palm seeds and they pass through on their own. You can actually see them in their faeces because they look a lot like apricot seeds,” Dr Gosson said.
“But like in Xavier’s case, not all of them end up passing through on their own and instead get caught up and cause an obstruction that stops the gastrointestinal system from working normally.
“Usually, laxatives and enemas work great to remove the obstruction but in rare cases like Xavier’s, an exploratory laparotomy surgery is performed to physically remove the blockage,” she said.
Exploratory laparotomies are reasonably risky, depending heavily on where the blockage is located, how far along the intestinal track it is, and how long it has been there.
Dr Gosson said Xavier’s case was very high risk, declaring him less than a 50/50 chance of a good outcome.
Nikki has now removed the two 25-year-old palm trees from the property to avoid any future incidents, especially knowing how much Xavier likes to eat anything he sees.
Dr Gosson advises pet owners they don’t necessarily have to go to such lengths but to be vigilant with their dogs and know their habits.
“Some dogs like to eat many unusual things including rocks, so knowing the curiosity levels of your dog will help you identify when something serious is wrong,” she said.
“Xavier’s parents were great in bringing him in as soon as they noticed the seeds in his faeces and it is always best to bring your pet in as soon as you think something isn’t quite right because the longer you leave the problem, the more expensive the bill becomes and the worse the outcome may be.”
Xavier is making a great recovery three weeks on, and Nikki said he is back to eating all he can and being his bubbly self.
Xavier is back to being his bubbly self and giving mum Nikki lots of kisses.