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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tanner Will Be Toothless

So...the verdict on Tanner's health is in...lose the teeth or lose him. For the most part, it's an easy choice. We are not ready to part with this beautiful animal yet! We received an unexpected tax return from Sweden for 2015 and what else would we want to spend our money on more than Tanner?! The hot tub can wait. It's too hot for a hot tub right now anyway. And I've decided to try to get on $100,000 Pyramid again so what the heck. We're gonna let the vet pull 'em all.
All kidding aside however, this wonderful dental specialist could not have been a better person for us to encounter. She was thoughtful and thorough. She spent about 1.5 hours with us, explaining what was going on in Tanner's mouth and what our options were. We both loved the way she handled him and she was very optimistic about the outcome. She told us that Tanner is one tough pup so that made us feel great.
My favorite photo of us when he was a pup
So, without going into too much detail, his jaw bone structure has actually started to break down from the adverse reaction to the bacteria in his mouth. Basically, Tanner's immune system has been overachieving and instead of reacting in a normal way, it has gone berserk creating all kinds of problems. We could see that this happened with his eye, and then his skin, and now his mouth. Tanner's enthusiasm for everything finally backfired on him. He needs his system to calm down! Unfortunately, the bacteria generated by his teeth is causing all of the soft tissue that touches it to ulcerate. The only way to truly prevent this is to keep the teeth immaculately clean. Easy for an adult. Impossible for a dog. So if we do nothing but manage the symptoms, we are in for a lot of headaches, continuous dental treatments and lots of drugs for Tanner. He would also be in pain a lot.So this is not a viable option. After carefully explaining to us that domestic dogs really have no need for teeth, we decided that taking them all out and allowing the gums to heal, while fully getting rid of the infections in his cheeks is clearly the most humane treatment. Dogs can be returned to a very high quality of life once these infections are gone. He will begin to feel so much better once the sources of his infections are gone. 
Every vet we've seen is impressed by how healthy and sturdy this dog is. They all say that they believe he has a lot more life in him if we can get him back to full health. Being off the steroids that we were using for his eye has been an excellent protocol. His eye looks better than ever and the skin is mostly cleared up too. The fur is growing back where they shaved him and he actually looks mostly normal. He's lost quite a bit of weight and some muscle mass. He only weighs 78lbs (35 kilos) now but the vet said as he grows older the less weight is better. His face is still adorable and he's still such great company. That face...ever since he was a puppy, has just melted my heart! The vet was totally impressed with how he bounced back from the surgery last week. She couldn't believe how well he was doing and that he could actually eat hard doggy cookie treats. They are from Trader Joe's however so it's not that surprising!
For now, he still isn't drinking water but getting fluids through his food which consists of rice, boiled chicken, bullion, and baby food. He loves the baby food, which apparently is mostly water. He won't touch dog food, even the high quality canned stuff, so for now I'm cooking for him. But the vet has high hopes to get him returned to a dry kibble diet once fully healed.He is still motivated by a good treat and loves this doggy ice cream we've found for him here!
It's always hard to know what to do with an aging pet but in this case, it does seem rather localized. All of his years swimming in Sweden have left his joints in very good shape and we just love him to bits.
So the surgery is set for July 28. The first 3-4 days will be kind of rough but the vet is confident that he will show great improvement quickly after that.
Thank you for all of your concern. We really do love this guy so much. He's been through a lot with us...and we'd like to have a few more memories with him on this side of the pond.