Monday, December 5, 2011

Poodle Puzzle

Pepper has a couple of cracked teeth.

We were informed of this a couple of weeks ago when she visited the vet for her last round of puppy vaccinations.

These cracked teeth are puppy teeth, of course. Now, puppy teeth fall out between the ages of 4-7 months. Pepper is about 17 weeks old now, and has already got a few permanent teeth in her little mouth.

"Vet: "These teeth MUST be removed, or you are putting your dog at risk."
Me: "Risk of what?"
Vet: "Infection. And her permanenet teeth may be affected."
Me: "How?"
Vet: "Look, pulling these teeth will maximize her bite potential."

Now, I maximized my own bite with braces. I also maximized Kathleen's bite with orthodontic assessments and a few years of her wearing an orthodontic appliance.

I remember what that all cost. So I wasn't terribly surprised when the vet presented me with an estimate of about $1700. This included the cost of pulling the teeth, a general anesthetic, and even local anesthetic.

Me: "Um. You made a mistake here. If she's under a general, she doesn't need a local."
Vet: "Yes, she does."
Me: "Um. Really."
Vet: "It's to make sure she feels no pain."

I don't know about you, but I understand that humans undergo major surgery, such as heart transplants, while under a general anesthetic, with no local. I've heard rumors that it works well.

Me: "I had a filling last month, and my dentist didn't even give me a local, never mind general anesthesia."
Vet: (Withering look, long sigh) "Without a local, we've noticed that the dog's heart rate increases when we extract teeth, even under a general. This might indicate pain."

Me: "Might it?"

No answer from vet, who is not just a vet, but a veterinarian dentist. One who wears green scrubs around the office, like he just stepped out of surgery.

I left with Pepper and the estimate.

I can see the cracked teeth. I keep looking in her mouth, hoping to see they've fallen out. That way, I'll still be able to go on vacation next summer, instead of spending it on maximizing Pepper's bite.

To pull Pepper's puppy teeth will cost more than she did herself. It will also cost more than a large round of dental work I just completed. For me, I got emergency dental work done in the US last summer on a cracked tooth. Sounds eerily like Pepper's situation, except my cracked tooth was a permanent molar, and the "crack" was in fact more of a "split" with about half of the tooth falling off. I also got a permanent crown fitted once I returned to Canada.

Grand total: well, less than what the vet wants in order to do Pep's extractions.



  1. Hmmmmm, indeed! My brother in law had a couple of dogs and lived in the City. Where there was (what he called) a yuppie vet. Yuppie vet = high vet bills. Then he moved to the country and got (what he called) a 'country vet' who had a 'let nature take its course' kind of attitude. Country vet = lower vet bills. All that to say, maybe you'd like to get a second opinion? Or get a country vet?

  2. Stay tuned, Jen, stay tuned...:)