So, we enter the Shiloh saga. For those that don't know, Shiloh is our resident prairie dog. He was a rescue prairie dog, but we fell in love with him and he's staying.
Well, earlier this year, maybe two weeks ago? Recently, anyway, we noticed he'd somehow managed to knock out one of his top incisors. So, at the time, the bottom incisor (the one that had nothing to bump up against) started growing moreso. So, we took him to Munster and they filed his teeth.
Fast forward to now, a few days ago I noticed he wasn't eating his food with quite his usual gusto, and his breathing sounded labored and squeaky. And that bottom tooth was again sticking way up further than his other bottom tooth. Time to go to Midwest Bird and see the specialist. So today we went to Midwest Bird. Made the decision to put him under to do x-rays to get a better idea of what's going on with those teeth. I asked them to look at his molars while they had him under, so if he had anything wrong there we'd know about that as well.
So, the molars look good. Good to hear. The top teeth, not so much. The x-ray showed that the top tooth that snapped off snapped off below the gumline. The vet said that it may grow back, it may not. It depends on how badly the tooth was damaged. They said that the damage to the tooth could lead to swelling and to an odontoma. Apparently the surrounding tissue swells and basically seals off the nasal passages. The x-rays showed early indication of odontoma and the vet said his wheezing and the sounds he's making would also point in that direction. Vet prescribed meloxicam (metecam) to try to bring the swelling down and see if that makes any difference in his breathing. She also wanted to see if his upper incisor (the broken one) would grow at all within a few days. We have a follow up appointment next Friday morning. Until then he gets 0.3cc of metecam once daily to try to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Worst case scenario is that nothing improves and the odontoma becomes more evident. In that case, we would need to consider surgery. Without treatment, an odontoma would basically block the nasal cavity completely, making it so that the critter can't breathe through its nose. In the early stages, it causes breathing problems and wheezing, which is where we are right now. My opinion, based on being there today and talking to the vet, it sounds like it's just a matter of time before we have to do the surgery.
The surgery involves removal of all four front incisors, roots and all. Part of the problem here, with Shiloh, would not only be the odontoma, but also that if that tooth never grows back because it's too damaged, he'd have to go in for filings probably weekly. With extracting the teeth, that problem would go away as well.
I asked the vet to look at his back teeth, and she said those look perfectly fine. Which is good, cause if we're considering removing all of the front teeth, we need the back ones in good shape to keep the critter alive. She said prairie dogs mainly use the front teeth to pick up food, and he would do fine without them (if it comes to that).
The good thing is that apparently, this is a common thing in prairie dogs. So the vet has done the surgery before, and understands what needs to be done and how to do it. Of course, nothing is without risks, if we did have to go through with surgery, they said there would be significant inflammation and Shiloh would have to be on oxygen for several days following the procedure (so, he would need to stay at the vet for several days).
The vet said that the surgery for him could be more difficult than usual, since the one tooth is broken off so far up, they would have to go up through the bone to extract the tooth. The surgery was quoted at $800-1200. Not sure exactly what that does/does not cover, but that's a general idea. Today's visit was over $270 alone, so this is going to be an expensive ordeal.
This is what I'm talking about when people go off about the initial cost of a pet, and I say they should be more worried about future veterinary costs than the purchase price. I had someone call the other day looking for a breedable female chin. They were interested in Keeper, the cheapest chin we have listed, at a $60 adoption fee. Had they read the ad, she doesn't get along with other chins. But no, they were more concerned about getting the cheapest chin possible. I told them about Keisa, who is pedigreed and breedable, and I told them, they should be less concerned about the cost of the chin, because if they need to do a c-section on a chin, it's going to run them a lot more than the $40 difference in price between Keeper and Keisa. And this is exactly what I'm talking about. Shiloh didn't cost me a penny, he was dropped off at the rescue. He was dropped off with multiple puncture wounds and a raging infection that took us 6 months of antibiotics to get under control. It took months after that for his fur (had fallen out from shoulders down) to grow back. It cost a fortune in vet bills just to get him back to being a healthy prairie dog. I don't remember how much it was now, years later, but let's say it's probably several times more than what the average person would pay for a prairie dog. Fine, we can call that the adoption fee, what it cost me to get a pet prairie dog. But by taking in Shiloh and deciding we were going to keep him, I made the commitment to him to care for him as he should be. That includes paying for vet care necessary. For some people, like Rochelle's owners, this visit today, $273, would have been way more than they wanted to spend. Imagine someone like that looking at a potential $800-1200 vet bill. I'm not trying to say everyone should go bankrupt trying to pay for vet care for their pets. If you can't afford it, you can't afford it. It's that simple. I understand. I'm not made of money either, and I have other pets/rescues to think about, the way people have kids and mortgages and everything to worry about. But I feel like at the very least, the people should have the means to take the animal to the vet. If the prognosis is bad, or if the family cannot afford the treatment, the animal could be put down, but they should at least be taken to the vet to see what is possible for them. This is my prairie dog, I take responsibility for his care. I wish I could say the same for everyone and their pets.