Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To treat or not to treat...

Dakota enjoying a walk in the woods in November 2010
We almost lost our dog three and a half years ago and at the time wondered if we were doing the right thing spending a good amount of money on a 9 year old animal. Dakota has done very well since then and other than increasing stiffness in his joints, has been healthy and happy. Over the past few days we noticed him scratching his face and thought he had a skin problem. The Becka called me at work yesterday to say his face was swollen and bleeding so we took him to the vet for an assessment. It turned out to be an abscessed tooth and we had to consider our options for a now 12 year old dog.

Infections of the 4th premolar (carnassial tooth) can cause problems for older dogs. They often appear as skin sores and can spread to the eye as well. To leave the infection untreated would be cruel so we had the choice of extraction under general anaesthetic or euthanasia. I asked for a complete blood screening in order to assess Dakota's liver and kidney function. Surprisingly, his results were near normal and much improved from his blood work in 2007. (We now feed him a primarily home made diet and no longer give him heart worm medication.) So we booked the surgery for today and he came through it very well. He had two infected teeth removed, the area was well irrigated, a dose of IV antibiotics was administered and he is on oral antibiotics for 10 days. And doggie dental work is no cheaper than human dental work.

Groggy, but glad to be home today
Time will tell if we made the right decision, but for now he is more comfortable and happy to be home. I wish dogs lived as long as cats or ideally as long as people. We have had several dogs over the years and it is always hard to lose them.

This week the spring on our automatic garage door opener broke and the dog developed this infection. Both events took time from our work day and money from our bank account. And they are totally irrelevant to many people in the world who don't have a car, garage or money for their own dental care. I look at the news and see the losses suffered by people in New Zealand and the countries where poverty and repression have spawned revolutions. How fortunate we are to have the choice to give our aged pet good medical care.


  1. We love our dog too. Part of the family as they say. Dogs never stop loving.

  2. Yay for Dakota! I hope you have many more good years with him. Spending the money to help them feel better is way better than having to spend it on euthanasia & cremation (which is what I'm having to think about now :-(

  3. The phrase, Lucky Dog, comes to mind.

  4. I must say, I'm glad for Dakota though I know where you are coming from. My Mingus gets treated very royally, better than many children in this world and it is a very sobering thought. Yet I don't know what I would have done without Mingus after D died. Even now, I think about what life would be in this house without the little fella and I have to say he is worth it. These critters so get into your heart ... and you into theirs too. And I know the Lord loves the critters too ... not one sparrow falls ....

    Again, glad Dakota is doing well after the dread dental appointment.

  5. Oh, my. This puts me so much in mind of our beloved Tipper who we had put to sleep last June. She too had problem teeth--and had many removed.
    I so agree with you about wishing dogs lived longer, and also agree that we have the luxury of treating them.
    Here's wishing the best for Dakota--may she have as many good times left as possible.

  6. A dog, like any pet, is part of the family. So we do what we can. Yet I often think we treat our pets more humanely than some of our people. Glad Dakota is doing well.

  7. aaawwww...give Dakota a big hug from me. There is no looking back at the decision you made only forward. No matter how much longer he is here his life will be still have quality and love in it. He has wonderful a family that care deeply for him. He is a very lucky puppy!!!

  8. Anonymous9:16 pm GMT-5

    There is nothing like a dog.
    Glad your dog is doing fine!

  9. Glad all went well Ruth. Hugs to you and Dakota.

  10. June,

    I had trouble reading this post, but am glad I did. We love these creatures so much for the joy they bring. But their too brief life span requires us to go through some tough times.

    I feel that we can't make those treatment decisions based on the world's suffering. We'd be immobilized.

    You've got a good philosophy.
    I try to be mindful as to how fortunate we are and to carry that gratitude forward.

  11. Pets are part of the family and it's always a tough decision to do what's best in those situations. Hopefully,Dakota has some quality time left.

  12. Your dog looks a lot like our Molly, who lived to be 14. I hope Dakota gets a few more healthy years.

  13. I think the word is choice. I too feel lucky to have choice in many matters that other do not have.
    I'm glad you chose well for Dakota! I'm sure it was the right decision. I hope he has many more happy years with you.

  14. Oh, Ruth, Dakota is lucky to have you.


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