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New teeth and a new lease on life - Geriatric pets

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Dale Johnstone

Author

14 February 2019

Many owners of geriatric pets can be reluctant to do much in the way of treatment for their pets, usually out of fear of something going wrong due to their age.

Bounce belonged to one such owner. An 11 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Bounce had been relatively issue free throughout her life, aside from a cruciate repair surgery done when she was younger. Having always been an enthusiastic and energetic dog, her owners started to notice a decline in her willingness to do anything. Putting it down to cold weather, old age or just plain laziness, Bounce continued to spend an increasing amount of time sleeping or just hanging around the house. This was a far cry from the bush and beach walks and opossum hunting she had enjoyed for so many years. Upon presentation at the clinic, Bounce was given a clinical exam which revealed some dental issues. The common belief that “it can’t be too bad, she’s still eating” was mentioned and while to an extent this can be true, most pets will continue to eat with extreme dental disease. Cases have been seen of tooth loss, breakage and severe gum disease, all the while the pet eats what is put in front of them without the owner noticing a problem. There is also a good indication in how close you are willing or able to get to your pet's open mouth. Bad breath can be an indicator of a number of things, dental problems being at the top of the list.

Bounce had some blood tests done which determined that we should give her some supportive treatment for a few weeks before any anaesthetic was undertaken. The owners wanted to do what was best for their furry friend and were able to give her the supplements needed. Repeat blood tests showed an improvement and while the owners were understandably concerned at leaving her for what was going to be a lengthy procedure, we were able to assure them that every precaution would be taken, and a suitable drug protocol for her age would be used. Constant monitoring during surgery and a close eye post-surgery means that we are able to keep pets as safe as possible. Bounce had dental x-rays taken of her mouth and seven teeth removed. Her teeth were also given a thorough scale and polish. Initially, no improvement was seen by her owners, and they were uncertain if it had been worthwhile. However, a few weeks post-surgery and they couldn’t believe what a difference there was in Bounce! She was back to her old self, running with the farm dogs, and waiting at the door to go on walks and rides in the car. They have told me that they are extremely pleased they went ahead with her dental procedure, and they are grateful to have their old Bounce back.

While a surgery on any pet can be daunting, sometimes our elderly fur babies don’t get the medical care that the younger ones do, due to the belief that something might go wrong. With the appropriate blood tests, and pre and post-op care, a geriatric surgery carries little more risk than one on a younger patient. It can vastly improve quality, and potentially quantity of life.

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