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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2003

Digby survives latest visit to vet's office

Antibiotics before the surgery. Do we have to? An anesthetic before the procedure. Sounds pretty serious.

But no extractions were necessary. That was good news.

The $110 fee, doctor, seems a little steep, but if it's beneficial to health and you throw in a pedicure, I'll go for it.

No, the dental cleaning was not for me, but for Digby, and what a traumatic time it was. The part border collie with one black eye and a ready paw to shake hands is not my first dog, and chances are he won't be my last. But it never occurred to me to have his teeth cleaned.

At a routine checkup for booster shots, our veterinarian mentioned that I may want to have his teeth cleaned, a statement that put the notion in my head that I wasn't giving my sweet dog proper care. I have known for some time that feeding him bacon cheeseburgers was bad, but he so enjoys them.

A few weeks later in my dentist's office, I asked him to make the limited periodontal surgery snappy because my dog was in the car and it was getting hot.

Bring him in, the dog-friendly dentist said. And he couldn't pass up the chance to look into a mouthful of teeth he hadn't seen before, even if it was a dog's.

Wow! the dentist exclaimed, saying Digby had a lot of tartar. “What have you been feeding this nice guy.”

That cinched it. Digby had to have his teeth cleaned at the vet's.

All went well. We arrived at 8 a.m. and he was ready to go home at 4 p.m., with a broad grin that showed off pearly whites. In another year, extractions would have been necessary, we were told.

Getting a pet's teeth cleaned is commonly overlooked by owners, the vet said, though it is important to their well-being and, perhaps, to longevity. When teeth become infected, the poison swallowed can cause problems. And we know how a toothache can hurt, but the dog or cat can't tell us.

Cracked teeth are more common in dogs than are cavities because of their habit of chewing on hard objects.

Our vet recalls shining a gold tooth for one dog when its teeth were cleaned. The dog was injured when someone thought it was funny to throw a rock instead of a ball.

Animal dental care, performed by veterinarian dentists, covers a wide range of services similar to human care, including root canals and crowns.

Our vet connects specialized dental care including filling cracked teeth to the Vietnam War when dogs were used widely for patrol. A dog with broken teeth can't bite.

Now that Digby's teeth are clean, canine toothpaste and an oral rinse have replaced bacon cheeseburgers on the shopping list. There should be no problem doing the brushing, but teaching him to rinse has to be seen.



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