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Vet Bites: Root of the problem?

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This is the first in the series of (very) short stories by our vets. Patient names have been changed to protect their identity……

It had been a busy morning at Hermitage Vet Clinic in Lucan, and with lunchtime fast approaching my stomach was beginning to growl – just one more patient to see Austin, a little Yorkie about 9 years old along with his owner Mr. Powers.

Austin a charming little Yorkshire terrier had never been a fan of his dry dog food. Every dinner time was a battle of wills between owner and dog of who would give in first. Austin’s owner had tried to take my advice on feeding , but I didn’t have to deal with those puppy dog eyes….and anyway, Mr. Powers was trying to trim down a little so what harm in sharing a little dinner with Austin.

Since the weekend, a battle weary Austin had given up the fight for stir fry and spaghetti bolognese, instead preferring to watch the news when meal time came around. No amount of gravy or meat could stimulate Austin’s appetite.

Mr. Powers, although not altogether unhappy with having his dinner to himself every evening, began to worry about Austin, and decided to book him in for an appointment.  It can sometimes be tricky to find out why a dog has gone off his food. After getting a full history from Mr. Powers I was none the wiser so a full check over was in order. I started with the mouth and when Austin began growling more than my stomach I suspected dental pain was at the root of the problem. Austin’s teeth had a heavy coating of plaque and one molar was looking particularly nasty.  A complete physical exam revealed no other abnormalities so it looked like a general anaesthetic and dental treatment was in order.

There are many problems that can be missed on a physical exam so to to rule out any other reasons for Austin’s poor appetite, and also to confirm he was fit enough for the anaesthetic, I took a blood sample to run on our in house analysers. A quick bite for me and within an hour, the vet nurse on duty gave me the blood results. Apart from some signs of infection, Austin’s blood tests were thankfully normal, I rang Mr. Powers and informed him we were going ahead with dental treatment.

Austin was put under general anaesthetic, and the infected painful molar was removed without too much convincing. The remaining teeth were cleaned and polished, leaving only healthy shiny teeth behind.  I treated Austin with some pain relief and antibiotics and I was confident he would return to his old self before long

The next day  the ceasefire was over, as far as food was concerned Austin’s mojo had returned. Mr. Powers although happy to see Austin pain free, still fondly reminisces about the time when he could, even for a day or two, eat his dinner in peace.


“I notice you don’t brush your teeth – I too like to live dangerously” Austin Powers