A Swindon dog which needed surgery after swallowing an Incredible Hulk toy was saved by the superhero as it led to the discovery of a tumour.

In a story "worthy of a comic book caper", scavenging family pet Bertie gobbled down a toy resembling the green alter-ego of Bruce Banner, without his owner's knowledge. 

Bertie suddenly began struggling to breathe and began vomiting, prompting his worried owner James Rawlings to rush him to the vets.

It was at Eastcott Veterinary Referrals that it was discovered that as well as suffering from the swallowed toy, the hapless spaniel also had a ruptured spleen caused by a tumourous mass.

Swindon Advertiser: The Incredible Hulk toy in questionThe Incredible Hulk toy in question (Image: Eastcott Vets)

Relieved owner James Rawlings, from Stratton St Margaret, said: “We had no idea Bertie had swallowed anything, so were alarmed when he was suddenly struggling to breathe and being sick.

“When the vets said the scans had shown a mass on his spleen and a foreign body in his intestines we feared it could be a terminal situation, that it was going to be cancer.

“We also knew the risk of anaesthesia in a dog of his age, so we were very concerned about him undergoing surgery.

“It was a huge relief when we learned the mass on his spleen was benign and the blockage in his intestines was just a toy."

Tim, an RCVS specialist in small animal soft tissue surgery, explained: "Bertie was then taken to surgery where the splenic mass was confirmed as having ruptured and so the spleen was removed.

Swindon Advertiser: Spaniel Bertie had a lucky escape after swallowing a plastic toySpaniel Bertie had a lucky escape after swallowing a plastic toy (Image: Eastcott Vets)“In addition, the obstructing foreign body, which we found to be a small plastic Hulk toy, was removed from the intestines.

Bertie's owners explained had no idea where Bertie had gotten access to the toy in question, but he was a scavenger and so could have picked it up from anywhere. But Tim said that, on this occasion, Bertie's scavenging almost certainly saved his dog's life. 

“Dogs usually present to us in various stages of collapse when they have splenic masses causing internal bleeding like Bertie," said Tim. 

“So, eating the Hulk toy and then showing signs of intestinal obstruction actually helped draw our attention to the fact that he had a bleeding splenic mass and allowed us to remove it at a very early stage."

Swindon Advertiser: Bertie and his familyBertie and his family (Image: Eastcott Vets)Owner James said: “It was a real emotional rollercoaster but Bertie is now fully recovered and we’re very grateful to Tim and the Eastcott team who were fabulous.”

For more information about Eastcott Referrals, which is part of Linnaeus, visit www.eastcottreferrals.co.uk