Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cora’s Dental Surgery Surprise

On Monday, Cora had dental surgery.

Cora’s teeth before cleaning

It had been only about a year and eight months since Cora’s last cleaning, but as it turned out, she really needed her teeth scaled again. We also knew that she had several broken teeth (many very easy to spot even for us). About a year ago, a friend of mine adopted a rescue whose personality completely blossomed after she had half of her teeth (all broken) removed. Because of this anecdotal evidence of the possible good that could come from dental surgery, I gave our vet (Dr. Sherry at Thickson Road Pet Hospital) the go-ahead to do as she felt best once she had Cora in surgery.

The vet clinic, as always, was amazing with Cora. Knowing her fearful nature, Dr. Sherry and Shannon, the vet tech, planned their day so that Cora’s surgery would be done before any others, meaning Cora wouldn’t have to wait in a crate, her anxiety building. They allowed me to stay with her as long as possible, and they called me to come get her as soon as she was ready to go home. They are so good with her and understand well my anxieties about keeping Cora on the path to fearlessness or as close to it as we can possibly get. (I have to add that Liz at the front desk was also amazing on surgery day. I stayed in the waiting room until I knew Cora was under, and Liz helped me stay calm and relaxed.)

Cora's teeth after (1280x960) (1280x960)

Cora’s pearly whites

As it turns out, Cora had to have seven teeth removed. We knew that her four front bottom teeth were all broken, presumably from chewing on bars most of her life (surmised from the fact that her top canines are also rounded from wear). The three other teeth removed were well spaced out—one front top tooth, one lower premolar, and one upper large molar. All of her teeth, though, are terribly worn down, and the vet thinks she’s probably spent a lot of time chewing on rocks or something equally unforgiving.

While none of this came as much of a surprise to us, Dr. Sherry did have one shocker to share. Seven teeth were not the only thing removed from Cora’s mouth. We knew of a “cyst” in her cheek that we have been watching for more than a year for growth. The vet removed it only to find it was not a cyst but a pellet, most likely from an air gun.


The pellet removed from Cora’s cheek next to a Zuke’s training treat

Poor Cora has lived with this in her mouth for at least two years. It’s possible she was shot while she was a stray, maybe while getting into garbage (which we know she has a penchant for), or that she was indeed a hunting dog and was shot while on a hunt. In either case, the shooting may explain her fear of people.

2013-03-11 after surgery

Cora on the way home from the vet clinic–very dopey

Anyway, within twelve hours of her surgery, Cora was her usual funny self, eating anything we’d allow her and begging for many chewy treats she can’t yet have. But we’re hoping to get approval for the chewier treats tomorrow at her follow-up appointment.

And while it seems that Cora has not come out of her shell with other people as a result of the removal of her teeth, she has at least remained just as kooky and happy and crazy as ever in our presence! For all her fearfulness with others, she truly makes up for it during our “family time.” She’s really quite the nut!

Dealing with Dusty’s Allergies

So itchy!

So itchy!

Last summer, we discovered just how bad Dusty’s allergies are. For nearly two weeks—while we were trying to find something to assuage the itchiness—Dusty barely slept because he was scratching all night and all day. We used Benadryl first (pills and topical solution—Dusty wore a T-shirt to prevent licking), then Reactine (recommended by the vet while we were away on holiday), and finally we resorted to putting him on steroids. It took a few doses of the steroids before we noticed a difference, but, finally, Dusty stopped scratching nonstop. Still, every time we took him for a walk (two or three times a day), we noticed, he’d be itchier again. And his skin was so red!

Ultimately, we resorted to paying the $500 to have an allergy test done. We were shocked to learn Dusty is allergic to every single kind of grass tested for (see Dusty’s results here).

Dusty's needlesBy November, we thought we could take Dusty off the steroids. Being on steroids for any length of time can cause all kinds of long-term problems, and that outcome we definitely wanted to avoid. When we weaned Dusty off the steroids, his itchiness returned, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Still, through January, we were surprised to find, he was itchy.

We made the decision to resort to allergy shots. Allergy shots are not ideal: he will be on them for the rest of his life. However, the alternative of living with such discomfort is much worse.

The company who did Dusty’s allergy test is the same one that prepared his allergy shots (two separate ones). We learned from them that Dusty is the first dog they’ve ever tested that is allergic to every single kind of grass tested for! He’s also allergic to a lot of trees. Basically outdoors = not friendly for Dusty. But Dusty loves nothing better than chasing a ball in the backyard.

2013 Jan 31 Dusty getting his needle (2)In mid-January, we started giving Dusty his shots. Wes and I learned how to do them because for the first two weeks, Dusty needed two shots every two days. He’s now on a stronger solution and getting his shots every ten days. Despite having given Dusty many needles now, I admit I’m still not comfortable with it. I find it really hard to know whether I’m through his skin.

However, I feel that we are doing the right thing for Dusty, so I will persevere. Over the several weeks he’s been getting his shots, we have noticed he’s become less itchy each time.

With the start of the spring thaw (yay!), the true test of Dusty’s allergy shots begins. If all goes well, Dusty will remain T-shirt-free, Benadryl-free, and steroid-free all summer long, despite all the allergens in the air. So, bring it on, Mother Nature! We’re ready for you!