CARING vets came to the rescue of a puppy after they discovered that a persistent cough was caused by a huge piece of wheatsheaf that got trapped inside his lung.

The veterinary team at Oakwood Referrals in Hartford were stunned when they got to the bottom of the problem which had been plaguing Dexter the Springer Spaniel.

The 18-month-old pooch was initially treated with antibiotics, which appeared to work for a while.

But when his cough got worse, he was referred to vet Ian Hopkins at Oakwood Veterinary Referrals, part of Willows Veterinary Group, who used an endoscope camera to investigate.

The procedure ended up saving Dexter having to undergo potentially life-threatening surgery, much to the relief of his owner, Andy Richardson.

Northwich Guardian:

Andy from Hartford said: "Around six months ago, Dexter developed a cough, which at first, we thought was kennel cough. He was put on antibiotics and he improved slightly but the cough still lingered. A few more weeks went by and he seemed to be getting worse so I took him back again. They thought he might have something on his chest, so they did a CT scan which showed there was something on his lung.

"They put a camera down and found a huge piece of barley corn inside his lung."

"I couldn't believe it when I saw the size of it, it was huge.

"Dexter was really fit and healthy in himself, despite having a persistent cough, he was still permanently active and fit and well in every other way, which is hard to believe when he had this thing inside him.

Northwich Guardian:

The wheatsheaf that was lodged in Dexter's lung

"I can only think he must've inhaled it when he ran through a corn field close to where we live in Hartford, because he and my German Shepherd love to dart all around there.

"I never would imagine anything like this could happen."

Vet of 26 years, Ian Hopkins said: “I was shocked at the size of the corn when it finally was removed.

"Untreated, Dexter could have had life-threatening pneumonia spreading to the rest of his lungs or a lung abscess developing and bursting inside his chest. Dexter was sent home the same day, feeling so much better."

"It's not every day you get to see these things or resolve them so successfully. I was delighted."

Andy added: "Dexter is fine now. Within a week, his cough had completely gone and he's been given a clean bill of health.

"I can’t sing Ian's praises enough, it was amazing the way he dealt with it. I'm so glad Dexter didn't have to have an operation because it would've been very risky and we could have lost him.

"Gone untreated, he could have died.

Northwich Guardian:

Dexter's now fighting fit once again thanks to Hartford-based vet Ian Hopkins

"I just want to make people aware that things like this can happen because I'd never heard of anything like it before."

Oakwood Veterinary Referrals is the second opinion side of the practice at Willows Veterinary Hospital in Hartford, near Northwich.

Willows Veterinary Group offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise through a network of 25 small animal practices, a referral veterinary hospital, two equine centres and a seven-office farm practice, located across Cheshire and into Greater Manchester, North Wales, the Wirral and Staffordshire. Willows is accredited by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

For more information about Oakwood Referrals, go to or call 01606 723222.