It raised eyebrows when my dog, MiMi, started to drool.
Prior to a month ago, she never really drooled. Then one day it started. So, what does that mean?
There can be a number of causes of excessive drooling in dogs. These include emotional reactions such as excitement, fear or nervousness. Drooling can be a side effect of some medications.
Like us humans, dogs can drool if they are nauseated, are experiencing motion sickness or if they have dental problems.
Of course, things like injuries, infections and irritations of the mouth and lips can cause excessive drooling. Similarly, drooling can be caused by things stuck in their mouth, teeth or throat.
Dogs that have ingested toxins or poisons, or those that have heatstroke, also are known to at some point drool excessively.
Last, you may just have a drooly breed but you would have noticed that by now.
In my dog, the drooling happened out of thin air, so to speak. Readers may also recall that MiMi developed acute glaucoma last summer in her left eye. This winter, her eye stopped responding to medication until in the last couple of weeks her cornea began to painfully slough off, a sign the pressures in the eye were too high.
A trip to my veterinarian in Moscow showed it was time to remove the eye. But a thorough exam showed she had a fractured molar on the same side. This caused the drooling.
Both conditions will be fixed Friday. Yet which procedure should happen first?
There are several considerations in cases like this. First off, my dog is otherwise healthy and has no known metabolic, respiratory or cardiac problems. That’s always good news for any surgical patient, human or animal.
The fractured molar is missing the entire crown, right down to the gumline. In all such cases and given its oral location, one assumes it is infected and it will be treated as such. When teeth are extracted, the bloodstream can be showered with bacteria resulting in local, regional or systemic infections.
Her eye is not infected, but once it is taken out she has a surgical wound that is potentially more likely to become infected before it heals.
If the eye goes first, the surgical team risks the post-operative site being showered with bacteria from potentially outside the mouth as well as described from within by the bloodstream. So the most reasonable answer is to take the tooth first in this single anesthetic event.
The tooth will likely be cut up with dental tools and the roots extracted with hand tools made for the procedure. The spinning high-speed dental tools sling potentially infectious matter around. But once the tooth is out, the socket is well irrigated and closed, the team will likely begin all over again to prepare a sterile field over my dog’s head, face and tissues of the eye. Once they are satisfied they have managed the risks well, the eye will be removed.
Notice that nowhere in this piece the word “right,” mentioned, as in the “right way.” There is no “right way” to approach such cases until one gets in the operating room. Then the most thorough assessment will be done to manage risks. Nothing more or less can be expected of the entire surgical team including aftercare.
Can things go wrong and my dog die? Yes. No one wants that to happen. I trust the team and they know that I know what can go wrong and that success is the most likely outcome in this case.
Powell is the retired public information officer for Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This column reflects his thoughts and no longer represents WSU. For questions or concerns about animals you’d like to read about, email firstname.lastname@example.org.