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August 12, 2008


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Debbie, Tri-State Corgi Rescue

Hi, Doc,

For a minute there, I thought my vet was sending me an email. I have two rescue boys in today having most all of their teeth pulled, plus "tutoring". One is 5, the other 10 and quite crabby. I shudder to think how they hurt. They're off to a good home hopefully soon, and they'll definitely be happier and healthier. Keep up the good posts - and be careful on that motorcycle!

Debbie Nosse, in WV


Regarding dental care, what do you recommend for your patients who can't be anesthetized due to other illnesses? My 4-year-old dog has liver shunts that cannot be surgically corrected, and both my vet and I are concerned about putting her under for dental cleanings since her poor little liver probably can't handle it. I brush her teeth every other day, but there's one tooth in the back that's really starting to yellow.

I would appreciate any light you can shed on this issue. I follow your rss feed and am always telling my husband that I wish your practice was here in SC.


Dear Jennifer,

I admire your dedication to home care for your dog's teeth. It really works and very few owners really do it.

In re anesthesia, my suggestion (which your regular doctor may have already done) would be to consult with a veterinary anesthesiologist. I am surely no anesthesia specialist, but we do a lot of our older, less well patients with a small dose of butorphanol and atropine (really small) and a MICROdose of Domitor, followed by mask induction with Sevoflurane. Sevoflurane just gets breathed in and breathed back out again. We've done some awfully old, sick dogs very successfully.

Your regular veterinarian is in a much better position to advise you, as he knows your dog's medical situation. Still, sometimes we don't stop to consult a specialist about every case. You might just ask him if he has spoken to an anesthesiologist about your dog's specific situation. It is likely that whether it's the teeth or something else, sooner or later the day will come when anesthesia is needed.

Thanks for reading and writing.


Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. We recently realized that our regular vet is perhaps not the best equipped to deal with our special needs dog, so I'm grateful for the advice about finding a specialist.

Our dog coped well with anesthesia when she was spayed and during a liver biopsy (both before she was diagnosed), so we're hopeful that low dose anesthetic meds like you describe will work well for her. Thanks again for pointing us in the right direction.

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I agree with you that those kind of teeth needs to come out or else our pets will suffer in pain. Even though they are pets, they need proper dental hygiene for them to become healthy.


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Any pet's teeth are very important and by not looking after them properly your pet may be in pain and may die prematurely. If in doubt go and see you pet's dentist!

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Dental disease affects up to approx 80% of pets over the age of three, and just like humans, there can be serious consequences of poor dental health.So, its important for the pet owners to take good care of their pet's oral health too.

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