Tour Our Hospital From the Perspective of Our Patients!
Chip is a sweet mixed-breed dog who just celebrated his eleventh birthday. He has been a loving and loyal companion since his family brought him home as a pup. His family brought him in to Friendship because they noticed that his breath was starting to smell unpleasant, and there was a lot of tartar building up on his teeth.
Chip was greeted when he arrived at the front door by one of our Client Care Providers. She offered Chip a small treat, gave him a good ear rub, and escorted him to the scale to be weighed. Chip didn't even know he was standing on a scale-- he had a nice cushy rug under his feet!
Once Chip and his family were settled in an examination room, a Friendship technician greeted him and his family and discussed his history with them. After hearing about the family's concerns and checking Chip's vital signs, she returned with the doctor, who performed a thorough physical examination and discussed her findings.
Based on her examination, the doctor told Chip's family that he was in excellent overall health for his age. However, in addition to moderate periodontal disease (tartar, gingivitis and bad breath), she noticed he had a growth on his side, and some mild signs of stiffness in his hips.
To ensure Chip's organs were functioning well enough to undergo anesthesia, the doctor performed pre-anesthetic lab work using Friendship's in-house laboratory equipment. She was able to tell his family that same afternoon that his liver, kidneys, electrolytes, blood sugar and bone marrow cells were all in good shape for anesthesia.
The doctor also took a small sample of the growth on his side using a needle and syringe similar to the ones used for vaccines. Chip was very brave during this procedure and after the doctor evaluated the mass microscopically, his family was so relieved to learn that it was a benign fatty growth called a lipoma.
The doctor thoroughly discussed her plan for Chip with his family. She discussed that his blood work looked great for a dog of his age, and his dental disease was serious enough that he should be anesthetized to have his teeth fully evaluated, scaled and polished, and any diseased areas addressed. She also offered to evaluate his hips with x-rays at the same time.
The day of Chip's dental procedure arrived. After one of Friendship's certified veterinary technicians discussed the plan for the day with his family, Chip was taken to his "bedroom" at Friendship, a comfy and spacious run with fluffy blankets and a view of the treatment area.
Shortly after his arrival, Chip's doctor performed his pre-anesthetic physical exam. After she determined that he was healthy and ready to go, one of the technicians at Friendship gave him an injection of a mild pre-anesthetic sedative and pain reliever. This injection was just one part of his balanced anesthesia plan, allowing the doctor to use smaller and safer doses of the rest of his anesthesia drugs, and ensuring his procedure would be as pain-free as possible.
After allowing the injection to take effect, the technicians helped Chip from his bedroom and took him to the x-ray suite. There, while he relaxed in a padded couch, the technicians used Friendship's digital x-ray machine to quickly obtain x-ray images of his hips for the doctor to evaluate.
The doctor noted that based on Chip's x-rays, he had early signs of hip arthritis. Luckily, since they were able to catch it early, she felt confident that some conservative interventions would help to slow the progression of the disease and keep Chip comfortable for many years to come.
Once Chip's x-rays were completed, his technicians placed an intravenous (IV) catheter. This allowed them to administer all drugs directly into his vein, and provide him with IV fluids during his procedure to help make for safer anesthesia.
After the IV was bandaged in place, Chip was given an anesthetic drug to help him fall completely asleep. A few seconds after the drug took effect, the technicians placed a breathing tube into his mouth and down his throat so that he could remain asleep for the procedure with small amounts of anesthetic gas mixed with oxygen.
The technicians also connected Chip to the many monitoring devices used to make anesthesia safer at Friendship Hospital for Animals. Throughout his anesthesia, the technicians monitored and recorded Chip's heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure, breathing rate, temperature and oxygen content in his blood.
One of Chip's veterinary technicians began a thorough dental evaluation on Chip. During her evaluation, she noted two fractured teeth in addition to his tartar and periodontal disease. After thoroughly scaling and polishing the tartar from his teeth and evaluating him again, she alerted his doctor to her findings. To help determine the best course of treatment for Chip, his doctor recommended to his family that she take digital dental x-rays of the questionable teeth.
With Friendship's digital dental x-ray machine, the doctor and technician were able to quickly take x-rays of both teeth. The x-ray of one tooth showed that it was healthy and that the pulp chamber (root canal) of the tooth was not affected. However, the x-ray of the second tooth showed a large abscess, or pus pocket, infecting the bone around the tooth root.
Chip's doctor called his family to discuss what she had found. She thanked them for making the commitment to a comprehensive dental evalation and treatment, because Chip never let on that one of his teeth was painful and infected, and without an anesthetized cleaning and dental x-ray, no one would have ever known about the diseased tooth until it was very severe. She advised that the fractured tooth whose x-ray was healthy could be treated with a painless bonded sealant. However, the tooth that had an infection would need to either be surgically extracted, or have a root canal performed with Friendship's mobile board-certified veterinary dentist.
After discussing the risks, benefits and costs of both possibilities thoroughly, Chip's family decided to have Chip's infected tooth surgically extracted. Even though Chip was fully anesthetized, his doctor knew that any painful stimulation of the nerves of the mouth could make him more uncomfortable later, so she took many steps to ensure the process would be as quick and painless as possible.
First, she administered a local anesthetic (like Novocaine) to the area. Next, she made a surgical incision in the gums to expose the bone surrounding the tooth. After using Friendship's state-of-the-art dental drill to carefully remove the bone surrounding the diseased roots, she loosened and gently lifted the tooth free. She packed the socket of the tooth with a synthetic bone graft material to help the jaw bone heal quickly and completely, and then sutured the gums closed over the area.
Once she was done with the extraction, Chip's doctor and technician used a multiple-step process to apply a bonded sealant to the other fractured tooth. Once they were done, Chip received another injection of pain relief to ensure that it would be a maximal level by the time he awoke from anesthesia.
Following Chip's procedure, the technicians helped to gently and safely awaken Chip. He spent the afternoon resting comfortably in his "bedroom", while his health care team monitored him regularly. Chip's doctor called his family to let them know how well his procedure went and that he was awake and doing well.
By the time Chip was ready to go home that afternoon, he was feeling comfortable and alert. His doctor had given him several doses of pain medication and also used Friendship's extensive in-house pharmacy to make up oral medications for him to take home.
As Chip's mouth healed, his doctor wanted to make sure that he would not tear his sutures by chewing. She sent his fmaily with a tasty canned food for him to eat while his gums were healing. She discussed all of her findings with his family at his dismissal appointment, and also showed them his x-rays on Friendship's in-room digital x-ray viewer. She even sent them with digital "before" and "after" pictures!
Friendship's team called Chip's family the next day to check in on him and make sure he was doing well. A week later, he came in for a recheck examination where his doctor noted his gums were healing beautifully. Once he was completely healed, his doctor gave his family suggestions on how to keep his teeth healthy at home with a wide variety of dental products and even taught them how to brush his teeth! They also talked about starting him on a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement and a special diet for his joints.
Chip and his family were so appreciative of Friendship's dedication to him during his visit. They knew that each member of the team worked hard to ensure Chip will be a happy and healthy member of their family for years to come.