Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Know When Your Dog Requires Dental Surgery

The weather was hot here, and Joey started going back to his old habit of eating just one bowl of food a day.  Doubtless he and his appetite were overtaken by the heat of the summer.

His morning runs were inconsistent: If the weather hit 100 degrees at 5 a.m., as it did a few mornings, Dad just wasn't taking Joey running. The dog hit his 11th birthday - and the boy just couldn't handle it. As Dad says, Joey started out his old self but by the end, they were more walking than running.

One day Dad noticed Joey had bad breath.  It's hard to miss a dog's bad breath but sometimes dog owners just get complacent.

Bad dog breath was definitely a sign that it was time for a teeth cleaning.  Within one day, we had Joey at the veterinarians for his pre-cleaning blood work.  When the old boy sat on the scale, I was sure there was a mistake. 70 lbs. it read. This is too low.   Joey stepped off the scale, and got back on again - with the same reading.  70 lbs. This dog is too thin!  I was under doctor's orders to increase his food intake.

The next week was Joey's dental cleaning. While he was under anesthesia, the veterinarian noticed that he had a severely cracked tooth that needed to be extracted. Suddenly we saw Joey's weight loss through a different lens. We saw his not eating through a different lens. His tooth hurt and he just didn't want to eat more than a minimal amount every day.

So how can you tell if your dog requires dental surgery?

  • Watch his weight. If he's losing weight rapidly, there may be a health problem. Don't rule anything out: Get him to the doctor's to do a physical.
  • Check his breath.  Bad breath is not just unpleasant but may signal a health issue.  Get your dog to the doctor's for an exam and a cleaning.

It's been around 3 days since Joey's dental surgery and tooth extraction, a long after-effect of his being hit by the car 15 months ago: Joey is back to running, he is back to opening his mouth again!  And he is back to eating.  A lot!  A little incentive (like chicken gravy) never hurts, but he deserves it.

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