I’m writing this blog to help owners understand why we, at Mclean Animal Hospital, recommend surgery if required at any age of pet! Truth is, your pet is never too old for surgery. Of course, your senior pet may have health concerns where anesthetic would not be recommended. This can happen with young pets too, thus it is not necessarily due to age. Senior pets can be healthy enough to undergo surgery at any age. Of course there are pre-surgical tests that must be done to assure the risk of anesthetic is as low as possible. I recently went through this with my old girl Buffy.
Buffy is almost 14 years old. She is a Shih Tzu, Maltese, Schnauzer mix. In other words, she is an adorable mutt! Buffy has done several dentals over her years as she is genetically prone to extremely poor oral disease. After her last dental, 3 years ago, with only 4 teeth remaining post dental, I thought we were in the clear for the rest of her years. Just recently however, Buffy was pawing at her mouth at home. I know from working at McLean Animal Hospital, this could mean her mouth is painful. I flipped her lip and was shocked! Those last four teeth were in very bad shape and her gums were very inflamed, poor girl.
I knew, even though she was older, I could not ignore her discomfort. I brought her in to see Dr. Sean Colyer in our veterinary clinic. He gave her a really good look over, full physical, and found her to be very healthy, other than the horrible (now loose) teeth. He of course recommended a full workup of senior blood work and urine to confirm that inside she was just as healthy as she looked on the outside. Now she did have a couple of abnormalities in her blood work. None that would impede her ability to undergo anesthetic but likely due to her dental disease. The verdict was in, Buffy was going for her dental under anesthetic to get her last 4 teeth extracted.
Dr. Sean Colyer, with the assistance of our Technician Sarah Higney, performed Buffy’s dental surgery. There were very large pockets at the root of the 4 teeth so after they were extracted, Dr. Colyer had to suture her gums closed to heal. Buffy did okay under anesthetic. She had some moments where her heart rate and temperature fell low, but she had excellent monitoring by our staff and they did everything to keep her stable. Her recovery from the anesthetic itself was a little slow. She was wrapped in warm blankets, on a heating pad, on her IV fluids, and in super hands. There was actually a lot of discharge from her nose during her dental as there was an infection present from the teeth. Dr. Colyer placed Buffy on two different types of antibiotics and of course pain medication too. However, I’m sure Buffy was likely less painful post dental given her teeth were infected and painful going in. I was able to take her home same day, once she was fully recovered from the anesthetic.
I’m happy to report my almost 14 year old girl is incredibly happy and spunky! She loves the canned food life and doesn’t mind all the medications I hide in it, while she is healing. It is always worth a complete work up if we think our pet may need surgery, no matter their age. With the team here at McLean Animal Hospital, you can feel confident in the recommendation, the work up, and the care during and post surgery. It’s important to think of our pets comfort at any age and to get a professional opinion on how best to keep them pain free.