Trevor, a 4-year-old dachshund, was living his best life in Cheshire when he suddenly swelled up to three times his normal size for no apparent reason.
Upon first spotting the normally slim pup’s rotund new shape, his owner, Francine Jennings, was obviously quite concerned.
“When we picked him up, he felt full of air – because he was full of air – but he crackled like bubblewrap underneath your fingers,” Francine Jennings, from Cheshire in the United Kingdom, told BBC News.
Recognizing the urgency of the mysterious affliction, Jennings and her family rushed Trevor to the Beech House Veterinary Center in Warrington.
Francine’s daughter, Jessica, described that Trevor looked like “a super fat seal”, by the time he arrived at the 24-hour hospital.
“His whole body was like a blob, and you couldn’t tell his face from his neck,” she said in a statement from the Willows Veterinary Group. “It was horrible seeing him like that.
The family was greeted by Dr Michelle Coward, who immediately took Trevor for X-rays. The images revealed the sausage dog – who had graduated in girth from a kielbasa to a black pudding – was suffering from subcutaneous emphysema; a rare condition wherein a puncture in the respiratory tract or the membranes surrounding the lungs, either by trauma or mistakes during surgery, causes inhaled air to accumulate in the muscles and under the skin. The cracking sensation described by Jennings is actually a hallmark symptom, and is often compared to touching Rice Crispies cereal.
“There were no external injuries that would explain how air had got under the skin, so we suspected that an internal injury to the airway or esophagus could have been allowing the air to leak into the body,” Coward stated. She and her colleague soon identified that there was a hole in his trachea.
“Every time he took a breath, some of the inhaled air escaped through [the hole and] around the muscles and fatty tissue under the skin, and X-rays showed the emphysema was worsening. Surgery was the only way to repair the injury but due to its location, there was a significant risk of complications. I have never seen a case like this before, and it was a new surgery for me.”
Thankfully, the operation was a success: the air was vented, the hole repaired, and no long-term consequences are anticipated.
How Trevor sustained his injury remains unknown, but his owners are happy to report that the deflated pooch is back to his standard cheeky antics.