Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ozzie and Lexie: Daily Double For Dentals

Ozzie's little tooth.
Ozzie lost a tooth Sunday. It happened when I presented him with a raw carrot treat. In a moment the carrot bite and tooth lay together on the kitchen floor. I was horrified. The tiny tooth came out intact -- roots and all, covered in calculus.

Feelings of guilt overwhelmed me as I held the little guy and tried to look into his mouth... without success.

Lexie has had two dental cleanings since her adoption but Ozzie's had none. Our wrong but well-intentioned logic was that he, being a "chewer", kept the tarter at bay. Lexie does not chew and so tarter builds quickly on her teeth.  Last November she had a second cleaning in three years, bring her tooth loss total to eleven, including one surgical removal. She has no center teeth across the front on top.

Lexie and Ozzie (not the day of the dentals) 
Wayne and I talked about whether we could wait until we reach a larger city or even until fall when we'll be at Auburn University's small animal teaching hospital again. Both dogs have been there multiple times. But no, we just couldn't wait. Ozzie might be in pain or have infection that could cause even more damage.  We had to act here and now.

Early next morning I was on the phone prepared to call  every local veterinarian office -- there are three within two miles of our campground.  In the end, I'd make just one call... to All Creatures Animal Hospital & Bird Clinic where Dr. Dennis Wood, his wife and staff have built a highly regarded, hospital accredited practice.  Dr. Wood is a co-founder of the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center and is involved in California's Large Whale Disentanglement Network. That, in itself, didn't convince us to go there, but I was impressed with this man's devotion to animals. Just as important, the receptionist was helpful with information and scheduled us to come in that very afternoon.

Dr. Wood and the staff at All Creatures Animal Hospital and Bird Clinic.
I made a list of other health issues to have addressed by the vet since we'd be paying for "new patient full evaluation" anyway - $45 per dog. (No multiple pet discounts -- aarrgg.) Allergies are bothering both dogs and we need a prescription for our often-used eye drops. We'd take care of these and have their anal glands expressed too -- an extra $15 each but worth it.

On examination, Ozzie's dental is most urgent as Dr. Wood saw at least one abscess. Lexie's tarter had returned in just six months and should be removed. We agreed. Both were given antibiotics and we would return early Thursday morning. The dental work will run somewhere between $465 - $859 per dog, depending on lots of scenarios. Once more, I've made a promise to be diligent in tooth brushing for them as soon a their mouths can take it.

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health
On Tuesday I began a new dog food research project. Dr. Wood suggested we consider one of the many dental blends available these days (and he sells at least one of those brands), but I ruled out all of them. Independent research concludes that the dental blends are, in fact, of little benefit in plaque removal and may actually be harmful to a dog's overall health.

In the end, Wayne and I concluded our current dog food contains a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates along with other ingredients we feel are best for Lexie and Ozzie.

We found some excellent dog food choices in our research.  We believe it is good to change dog foods occasionally and there are plenty 5-star choices to offer as alternatives.

Many dog food resources were used but the most help was from the Dog Food Advisor.

On Wednesday evening, Lexie and Ozzie ate later than usual, enjoyed a few extra treats and went to sleep completely unaware they wouldn't have breakfast or even a drink of water the following morning -- ahead of the dental cleanings that were in store.

At 8:30 Thursday morning we dropped them at the clinic and missed them terribly until time to go back in early afternoon.  Lexie had an uneventful cleaning but did require one tooth be removed which was quite disappointing. Ozzie's dental report wasn't nearly so good -- or simple.  Ozzie has periodontal disease, nine teeth had to be extracted, including canines and molars. Dr. Wood explained all the work he had done including the treatment applied to both dogs' teeth that would hold the plaque at bay until we could get the brushing treatment underway. It will take about 2 weeks for them to heal. We purchased several dental cleaning products, some prescription -- some not, to aid in the dental hygiene program. The antibiotics will continue, too, for another week.

In the end, the cost associated with this daily double dental reached $1,600.  A large part of the expense could have easily been avoided by getting our dogs accustomed to daily tooth brushing -- which we will do. To start, I am stroking their mouths and lips to get them used to the feel of my fingers.

Next will be to get my finger into the mouth and along the teeth.  Slow but sure.

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