Spatula Snack Spells Disaster for Massive Mastiff

When Brian and Karen Guillory of Lake Charles, Louisiana, first brought home King, their new 8-week-old Bullmastiff, he was just a chubby little puppy. Now, nearly two years later, King has grown into a 150-pound gentle giant who fits perfectly into the Guillory home. However, the family nearly lost their beloved beast after his massive appetite got the best of him and he swallowed a kitchen spatula whole. King’s dangerous dessert and miraculous recovery have earned him the title of April’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

Even though King is humongous, he’s still young and has puppy tendencies. Besides the occasional scuffle with his feline sibling, Smokey, King’s worst habit is eating things he’s not supposed to, which has included socks, sticks or anything small he can get his paws on.

“We had to start putting everything away or high up off the ground,” said Brian. “He’d eat everything he could get in his mouth. He has started to break the habit as he’s grown older, but still has slip ups.”

On the day of the utensil ingestion, King was relaxing in the living room with Brian when Karen arrived home. Just as he does every day, King greeted his motherly pet parent and followed her to the kitchen, hoping for a nibble of scraps as she cooked dinner. On this day, Karen was not only cooking dinner, but also had a cake planned for dessert. As she was finishing the final touches, Karen used a spatula to spread the frosting on her freshly baked cake and placed the utensil on the counter. King seized his opportunity and snatched the spatula with his mammoth mouth, gulping it down without anyone noticing.

“Karen and I sat down to eat dinner and didn’t suspect a thing,” said Brian. “We cleaned up the kitchen and both assumed the other had put the spatula away. We went to bed and had no idea anything was wrong with King.”

Little did the family know, King was in a world of trouble. Over the next couple of days, Brian noticed that the massive Mastiff was acting odd. He was having issues passing his stool, and his appetite was diminishing. Knowing something just wasn’t right with his canine companion, Brian took King to the Downtown Animal Hospital in Lake Charles for a checkup.

“When I took him in, they ran a series of tests, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him,” said Brian. “Then they ran a dye test through his stomach and told me that something was blocking his intestinal tract.”

The veterinary staff gave King medication in an attempt to assist him with passing the blockage naturally, but the attempts failed. The staff  recommended to the Guillory family that King undergo surgery to remove the obstruction.

"It became a serious situation very quickly,” said Brian. “King is part of this family, and we’d get him whatever medical care he needed, so we agreed to the surgery. We didn’t know how bad it was until they opened him up.”

During surgery the staff not only discovered that the spatula was what was causing the blockage, but that it had also done severe damage to his intestines. King needed to have more than a foot of his intestines removed, and his status for recovery was questionable. King spent more than three weeks recovering in the veterinary hospital, and although he lost a large amount of weight, he pulled through.

 “Puppies love to eat things they’re not supposed to, and a puppy King’s size can eat just about anything he can get in his jaws around.” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “Many foreign item ingestions can bring detrimental consequences. King is lucky he had pet parents who took action when they noticed something was wrong. ”

After returning home from the veterinary hospital, King was placed on a liquid and soft food diet for an extended period of time. King slowly gained his strength back and has since resumed a healthy weight. The Guillorys are relieved that their gentle giant is back home and thankful for the support they received.

 “The veterinarians did a great job saving King’s life. We can’t thank them enough,” said Brian. “Having pet insurance for King was a huge help financially. We couldn’t be happier with the coverage we got from Nationwide. I recommend it to every dog owner I meet.”

As the most unusual claim submitted in April, King will be in the running for the 2017 Hambone Award. King’s incident was one of more than 110,000 pet insurance claims received in the month of April by Nationwide, and was selected by Nationwide employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in April include a Cocker spaniel who ingested a pair of earrings, a Labrador retriever who was hooked by a fishing lure, and a mixed breed dog who jumped out of a two story building. All pets considered for the Hambone Award have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Note to editors: Digital images of King are available upon request. Please send requests to rwhittington@petinsurance.com.

About Hambone Award

The Hambone Award is named in honor of a Nationwide-insured dog who got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the Hambone Award nominees are available at HamboneAward.com.

About Nationwide pet insurance

With more than 600,000 insured pets, pet insurance from Nationwide, formerly known as Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), is the first and largest pet health insurance provider in the United States. Since 1982, Nationwide has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

Nationwide plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Wellness coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies offers pet insurance from Nationwide as an employee benefit.

Insurance plans are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2013); National Casualty Company (all other states), Columbus, OH, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2014). Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2016 Nationwide. Pet owners can find Nationwide pet insurance on Facebook or follow on Twitter. For more information about Nationwide pet insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.

Nationwide and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2017 Nationwide.