As I sit here with my little orange tabby cat who is recovering from surgery, I'll take the time to write about Siog's experience with her first dental session. Siog will be four next month and has never had a vet look at her teeth. I became aware that she had a problem when she started quidding ... that is wadding up pieces of hay or straw and dropping them. A fecal float also revealed undigested food so I knew it was time to call the vet.
Donkeys don't have their full set of teeth until they are in their fifth year and they will loose caps or baby teeth
which cover the new permanent ones growing in. Siog had recently lost the first of 4 caps and 2 more uppers were loose and easily removed by the vet. But the caps had sharp protrusions that had cut the inside of Siog's cheek which is why it had become painful for her to chew.
She also had sharp points (not unusual) that had developed and needed to be filed down. The whole procedure took about 40 minutes under standing sedation but it left my little donkey a wreck! She had a very sore mouth from the work and also from the lacerations in her mouth that the caps had made.
Once the sedation wore off, she was truly not able to eat .... anything! And that can quickly become a very serious situation as donkeys are prone to colic, hyperlipeamia and ulcers from stress and lack of fiber moving through their gut. Heck of a diet plan for me too as I was so stressed out that I could barely manage a mouthful of anything myself.
Luckily I have a supply of things on hand to tempt a donkey and lucky too that she was felt like eating but was just sore. So offerings of soaked beet pulp/ soy mash, soaked timothy hay cubes and soaked timothy pellets that I use for clicker training, laced with bits of apple, ground flax and herbs to soothe ulcers were placed in front of her several times a day and she began to readily accept them.
After the first day or two, she was able to grab short bits of grass, nothing long or fibrous but it has taken a week for her to fully recover. I had her on paste Banamine for 6 days, hoping each day would be the last but gauging her response to offerings of hay and straw before withdrawing this anti-inflammatory pain killer.
She started with a dose of 2 cc and I was able to gradually reduce that to 1/2 cc.
In my experience, donkeys become very quiet when not feeling well, so I was anxiously waiting for her loud raspy bray, which began tentatively but is now full blown again, thank goodness. Needless to say I am not looking forward to "regular" dental care, something every donkey needs since "chewing" is vital to health!
But our vet is wonderful - caring and compassionate so we will come up with a solution that is not so intrusive.