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Date:   13 November, 2009  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig & rabbits.

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?   
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Oct 28, 2009
Updated: Nov 13, 2009

Most dogs have no more deciduous (temporary, puppy) teeth by 8 months of age. Yet in this rare case, this tea-cup Yorkshire Terrier had 14 puppy teeth that should have dropped off.

The permanent teeth erupts in an abnormal position as their place is occupied by the puppy teeth. He resisted strongly when I tried to open his mouth as he had a very painful mouth. If only he could talk. Tartar had formed in the retained canine teeth and soon, there will be tooth decay.

Many Singapore owners don't bother with such dental problems due to economic and anaesthetic risk reasons. What if the puppy dies under general anaesthesia?

This mindset is unfortunate for the puppy. General anaesthesia is safe in puppies over 3 months old. Much depends on the selection and experience of the veterinarian. Worried owners have to look for more experienced vets if they are worried about anaesthetic risks.
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes) 2741 - 2743. Painful mouth. Yorkshire Terrier, 8 months, 1.1 kg only, strongly resisted opening of mouth before extraction of 14 deciduous teeth.  14 retained puppy teeth in a Yorkshire

Timely removal of the retained deciduous teeth enable the permanent teeth to erupt in normal position and angle. In older dogs, food and dog hair get trapped between the permanent and retained teeth, leading to tartar formation. Bad breath. Painful mouth. But the uneducated owner just ignore such dental problems. Teeth start dropping off. So what? The dog gets his food and water. What more can a dog want?

The introduction of the internet has benefited many puppies through education of the newer and younger owners. Compared to 10 years ago, more lady owners and young couples are aware of the future dental problems in retained puppy teeth and have got them extracted.

After checking that his heart is OK, I used general anaesthesia isoflurane gas prior to extraction of the puppy teeth. Intubation was done. Still it took >30 minutes to extract 14 teeth. After extraction, I note that it was not such a difficult struggle to open this Yorkshire's mouth for photography.

I am happy for this Yorkshire Terrier as he will be able to chew and bite without oral pain anymore. Tooth brushing ought to be done and should be easier nowadays.

His market value is S$2,500 - $5,000 as Yorkshires are very rare in Singapore. It is difficult to import too as they don't take well to air travel. Some airlines permit hand-carrying of the dog.

"Where did you get this Yorkshire?" I asked the lady. He was a present. A present equivalent to a branded handbag! 


1. I don't use tranquilisers. Just isoflurane gas mask to induce.
2. Intubate
3. An assistant who just monitor anaesthesia and nothing else.
4. Minimal gas at 1% to effect.
5. Extraction of teeth as fast as possible.

A pre-anaesthetic blood test will be good but most owners are interested in least cost. Checking of overall health and heart will be the cheaper alternative but it is not ideal.
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 Clinical Research

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