• Vet Tails Excerpt – To read more about my adventures, read Vet Tails available as a book or e-book from https://www.drliza.co.nz/shop/

• Vet Tails Excerpt – To read more about my adventures, read Vet Tails available as a book or e-book from https://www.drliza.co.nz/shop/
Mrs Michaels came in with Willy, her fourteen-year-old pug who was clearly her baby, as she spoiled her little dog rotten! She was concerned because Willy just wasn’t right and she wanted him to be checked. An examination revealed severe and persistent ear and eye infections, a very skinny dog, a heart murmur indicating the potential of heart disease playing a role and a horrendously smelly breath with the most terribly infected mouth I had ever seen.

I had Mrs Michaels in tears when I explained that Willy’s mouth was causing him great pain and unless we got to the root of the problem and performed a dental with multiple tooth extractions under anaesthetic, which would be very risky, it would be kinder to consider putting Willy to sleep. We settled on putting Willy onto some anti-biotic tablets, ear drops, eye drops, changing his diet and adding some vitamins to his food to buy Mrs M some time to think about it.

She phoned back the following week to say that Willy had had a new lease on life and was looking much better. We again discussed that his mouth was greatly limiting his quality of life as well as the options of doing further diagnostics to assess his health but she didn’t have much money for these tests. I warned her again about the great anaesthetic risk but explained that if he didn’t pull through, it would be likely that he had even more serious health problems and it may be his time anyway. Mrs M made the difficult decision to bite the bullet, do the dental and hopefully provide Willy with a much greater quality of life than he had experienced in months. We booked him in for the following Friday.

Friday came and Mrs M dropped Willy off and said her goodbyes with tears in her eyes. I was concerned about Willy but this had to be done. With a safe and quick anaesthetic, hopefully he would pull through. But there are never guarantees; we could only do our best.

We placed Willy on a drip and proceeded to put him under anaesthetic. Enjoying working with the SPCA’s proficient nursing team, I made as much headway as I could cracking off tartar and pulling out many teeth. We were five minutes into his anaesthetic and Willy was OK, a great sign, just a few minutes more and I called it quits.

In these older dogs, there’s always the fine balance of doing a really good job of their teeth and keeping them under anaesthetic for too long. The line often needs to be drawn where their quality of life will be greatly improved and the length of the anaesthetic won’t further compromise their already compromised system.

We turned off the anaesthetic, and Willy started waking up! But this was the next risky phase. Being a pug with a stumpy face, which looks cute to us humans, severely compromises the function of their upper airways and makes it difficult for them to breathe in enough oxygen easily, especially if there is any irritation to the airways which can sometimes occur with an anaesthetic. We monitored Willy closely for the next few hours and he was OK! He had survived, was walking around and Mrs M was over the moon! A very satisfying experience for all of us!