This year we had the most unusual warm fall time weather. While outside enjoying the garden in the autumn, Casey was partaking in his usual backyard snack an apple off his tree. Really nothing out of the ordinary with that. Later that evening we noticed he was shying away from his food. We thought he may not be hungry, the apples may have curbed his appetite. The following day, more unusual behavior was noticed. He would not eat his food and would not drink his water, nor would he pick up any of his toys in his mouth. We tried tempting him with the things he would never refuse like cheese, yet he did refuse it. Now we were concerned. Both David and I would try to visualize inside of Casey's mouth, of course this is a challenge for anybody. With a tiny flashlight we took a good look, yet we could not see any obvious problems. Perhaps the gums looked a little bit red but nothing ominous looking. This odd behavior continued another day, this troubled me that I could not figure this out. I contacted our veterinarian who agreed something had to wrong. We took Casey in to be examined by the veterinarian. She did exactly the same thing that we did, a visual exam with a lighted instrument. She also thought that the gums may be the problem, and placed Casey on antibiotics. We took Casey home and fed him a softer version of the same type of dog food that he eats. He continued to refuse to eat or drink for the next two days, now we are very worried.
We returned back to the veterinarians office. She thought it would be wise to sedate Casey and get a better examination of the entire gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the stomach. They were preparing him for a procedure called "endoscopy". This is a procedure where a long lighted instrument is gently passed through the mouth and advanced down the digestive tract to accomplish a visual picture of any possible problems. They gave Casey his pre-operative lab work exam first, when that was all cleared and was safe for surgery they administered a sedative. I held Casey in my arms until he was so drowsy they could then take him to the operating room. I waited very nervously, and a hundred different scenarios bounced around in my head and none of them were good. Well it wasn't long before the veterinarian came out of the operating room, she was smiling very widely "we found the problem, the back grinding molar is cracked to the pulp and is exposing the nerve root". It was difficult to find initially because the tooth had split on this inside and on a lateral angle. She told me "the tooth must come out". This was not great news but it was far better news than my imagination was offering me. The grinding molar was removed and Casey made a very quick recovery. Back to his lovable self within two days.
This whole ordeal had to be very painful for Casey and he handled it like a trooper. However, the point I am trying to make is, had we ignored the signs and symptoms of the odd behavior this could have escalated into a far larger problem. An infection might have developed complicating this situation in a far more dangerous way.
All our family and friends were naturally very concerned about Casey, and made many inquires about this progress. Through various discussions about dogs and teeth, I was astonished just how many times I heard the same thing said "when my dog turned ten years old we had plenty of problems with teeth". Why had I never heard of this before? It is very ironic when I think about it now. Casey has had his teeth cleaned three times and has always eaten a dry dog food. He chews on cookies and bones that are recommended for stronger teeth and gums. So why did the tooth crack? This is a mystery I guess will remain a mystery to me.
I wonder though, is there a dog tooth fairy?