Bright sunshine, blue skies, white cloud.
A 12-year-old well cared for female, Golden Retriever, drooling on the left side only.
Vet 1 did dental scaling and extraction. Dog then started "drooling on left side."
Vet 1 then smoothened left lower PM4 since the upper PM4 and others had been extracted. Still the drooling persisted.
Vet 2 was "thorough" according to the owner. He X-rayed and ultrasound the whole body. "How about the head and neck area?" I asked. The owner did not think this was done.
According to the owner, said a big lump was present on the left back of mouth and a spherical lump on left neck below the submandibular. He recommended steroids as an alternative to euthanasia and surgery. When the dog was on steroids, she was very hungry and drank a lot. When given Tramadol, the drooling stopped. The dog had lost a lot of weight.
The dog did not want the mouth to be opened but I managed to open it and showed the owner and her sister (anaesthetist) the large tonsillar tumour (at least 3 cm x 2 cm). Pain and ulcerations there would be the cause of drooling.
Surprising an 8-year-old small breed came in for review after this Golden Retriever. I had done dental scaling 4 weeks ago. The dog objected strongly to the mouth being opened, but I could see the right tonsil as reddish lump 0.5 x 0.5 cm. I had told the owner of this lump seen during dental scaling. It could be a tonsillar tumour. The owner would wait and see.
If dog owners regularly check the dog's teeth and keep it cleaned or scaled yearly or two-yearly, many oral tumours would not form. This is the same with human beings too. A poor hygiene in the mouth predisposes to oral tumours and this is commonly reported.
"See the lump under the right eye," I had pointed it out to her at the waiting area. Later, she gave me permission to take a photo. "That is the beginning of a malar abscess - infection from the root of the back tooth into the sinus and bulging out." She had come for advice as Vet 1 wanted her to sign an indemnity form for dental work in case the dog dies under anaesthesia.
"How many deaths were under you while you did dental scaling?" the young lady was very worried about her 8-year-old chihuahua who had Stage 4 periodontal disease (the worst stage) and asked Dr Vanessa who was handling the case together with me. She did most of the talking. Many times, I would see the case together with her and most of the time, she would be doing the talking. Some owners would think I am an assistant and know nothing and so why was I giving medical advices? I usually identify myself as a vet first.
"How many?" the young lady asked again. "Ask Dr Sing," Dr Vanessa replied.
"In my over 30 years of dental scaling and I can only speak for myself, I don't have any cases of dogs doing dental work dying on the operating table," I replied. "Dental work or scaling takes a short time of less than 15 minutes unlike long surgeries and therefore, anaesthetic deaths are uncommon in many senior dogs. A very close focus on anaethesia by the vet and his assistant is very important. In old dogs, I don't give IV sedation but just isoflurane gas only."
The young lady was already red-eyed but well read about anaesthetic deaths of dogs on the operating table. I could understand her concern for the Chihuahua which was in good bodily condition unlike those skinny ones. A bit plump is better as this indicated that this dog was well cared for and had a good appetite (meaning good health too.)
"A blood test is taken to screen the dog's health first," Dr Vanessa said as she examined the heart and lungs and found them OK.
"A 10-day course of antibiotics before dental scaling is what I recommend usually to clients," I said. "The dental scaling is done around 7-10 days later and the mouth would be free of bacteria."
The boyfriend asked the young lady (in her late 20s) to wait for the blood test. So, it was quite an emotional consultation.
This Sunday was an eventful one as my assistant Min fell sick with flu. He left at 10 am to see the doctor and had the day off. Ms Ong, a junior college student with an offer from Glasgow Univ for vet studies came for her first day and so she got to see all the cases since the other three interns (Kim quitted suddenly as she found that it was too costly to study vet medicine, Mr Lim was said to have denque fever, Grace, going to 2nd year vet student from Sydney Univ would come only on Monday.
It was a bright sunshine Sunday and we managed to close at 5.30 pm. I advised Dr Vanessa to record as she communicate to the client as this is what I do, but she had her own style of writing only after everything. So there was much delay. Record what the client said e.g. history on the spot. That would be the efficient way as many clients dislike waiting too long. Some of the clients had to wait more than an hour and from my view at the reception, many prefer short consultations and getting the problem resolved. Waiting more than 15 minutes at the doctor is not a happy event for any Singaporean on a Sunday when there are so many things to do!