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Old 08-07-2010, 10:30 AM
O'Riley's Avatar
O'Riley O'Riley is offline
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Default Diabetic Dogs & Dentistry

I can testify to the fact that dental problems can dramatically affect a dog's blood glucose levels. My dog, Riley, has been on Clavamox which tested "sensitive" against the culture for his UTI, but he was still having problems after weeks on this treatment. Enter our new vet who said Riley's infection was dental. He prescribed Clindamycin to work synergistically with the Clavamox (the clavulanic acid in the Clavamox boosts the effectiveness of both antibiotics). The very next day my dog stopped drinking excessively, urinating excessively, blood glucose is now consistently in the 100's and his insulin dose has been reduced by 2 units. This is a miracle for a previously unregulated diabetic. He's ten years old but he's playing like a puppy again. His dental problems will be addressed after a month on this antibiotic regimen. Riley has other health problems (bad looking liver on ultrasound, and may/may not have Cushing's), but WOW, what a turnaround.

Dental can be tricky. If you think that might be your dog's problem, and if money is no object, I would suggest having the dental cleaning done by an experienced board certified veterinary dentist. They don't turn everything over to technicians and since all they do is dental work, they work at a fast pace resulting in shortened anesthesia time. They use those neat magnifying glasses that help reveal hairline cracks in teeth along with other uses; they use digital x-rays; crash carts are an arm's length away; the best dentists are now using a dental block method that allows them to dramatically reduce the amount of anesthesia, and I think that's one of the greatest benefits of going to a dentist when you have an older dog and are concerned about anesthesia. Veterinary dentists tend to want to “watch” borderline teeth, but I have a breed of dog that is notorious for bad teeth (Yorkie), so I say, if the tooth is on its way to going bad, take it out. I also don't do fillings/crowns, etc. If the tooth is bad, out it comes.

Chronic inflammation can cause a lot of blood values to be out of whack. I posted my recent experience on the vetpet list, and a veterinarian commented that alkaline phosphatase can be elevated because of dental disease. Other values that might indicate chronic inflammation are elevated monocytes and elevated platelet count. There may be other values that can be affected, so perhaps the experts can weigh in here. My reason for pointing this out is, you might save yourself extensive testing looking for reasons that some blood values are out of range, and might even go the ultrasound route, when maybe the mouth should be the first thing to be ruled out.

If your dog is having trouble eating and has glucose readings that are out of whack, perhaps this easily fixable problem is all that's wrong with your dog. I want to add that, after touting the benefits of a real dog dentist which I have enjoyed the services of in the past, this time around money is most definitely a factor so I'll be using my general vet. He seems to be up on the latest techniques and his equipment is good (intraoral digital xray, etc.). Otherwise I'd probably save up so I could go the dentist route. It takes a lot of the risk out of dental procedures to use a dentist instead of a general vet, especially for a health-compromised animal. The sad truth is, dogs can have undiagnosed health issues and then go under anesthesia with bad results. On the other hand, my dog isn't ever going to get well until his dental is taken care of, so I have no choice but to go forward with the anesthesia.

Those of you on the West Coast are lucky to have anesthesia-free cleaning available. (Where I live now, they gasp when I ask about this). Regular cleanings by an experienced anesthesia-free specialist can prolong the time necessary between the riskier and more expensive anesthesia procedures. You have to do a lot of research and make sure to choose someone who is really, really good though. A very few can actually do "under the gum" cleanings (without anesthesia) on dogs that are good candidates (no serious dental problems), and they can even do a "Pre Cleaning" that would then be followed by a veterinary cleaning and results in less time under anesthesia.

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