This post is going to be about Garibaldi Rous’ medical condition involving his teeth and our trip to Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine for the diagnosis. If you haven’t been following the developments so far, you can follow this link to fill yourself in.
Contrast the two photos shown above. The first shows Garibaldi’s glorious teeth in December, 2011. Nice and straight. The bottom photo shows his teeth on Sept. 9, 2012. You can see that his bottom teeth are no longer straight. I wish I’d known that this is an important sign of tooth problems in capybaras so I could have been watching for it. As it is, it happened incrementally so that I thought it was the same thing as humans needing braces. It isn’t. According to his vet, this is a signal of infection in the tooth’s root that causes the tooth to become loose and allows it to rotate.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
It’s a long drive to the vet school in College Station. According to google maps, it is 118 miles between here and there, so we had to leave fairly early in the morning for our 1 pm appointment. Rick rode in the backseat with Gari while I drove. You can tell Gari wasn’t feeling well because he let Rick hug him. Of course, being in the car always makes Gari nervous but having Rick with him helps.
We got there a little early. Instead of going straight in, we decided to let Gari stretch his legs in one of the large animal clinic’s livestock paddocks. Lucky for Gari, the paddock had a leaky faucet and some nice mud puddle. Lucky for us, there was a hose to wash him off with afterward.
This is Gari with our veterinary student. She took his history and a bit of his physical and she stayed with us most of the time he was going under. This time, Dr. Hoppes, our vet, decided to give him a bit of a nasal spray tranquilizer before he got his shot. That worked to calm him down fairly well. If there’s one thing Gari is, it’s a fighter. He tried with all of his might to stay awake.
Finally, just when Dr. Hoppes was about to give him another dose of anesthesia, we got him to lie down in his bed and he went under immediately. He might look like he is comfortably relaxing in the above photo, but actually he is unconscious.
One of the good things about going to the vet school is that there are lots of specialists and equipment. They had him hooked up to all the latest technology to monitor his breathing, pulse, body temperature and the oxygen content of his blood. Then it was off to xray.
I have to admit, I don’t really understand this image of his xrays. I took this image of the computer screen with my camera. Later I’ll have them give me the real xrays, which are digital, as you can see. Once I have the full set of images, I think it will make a lot more sense.
At any rate, the news wasn’t good. There are dark pockets near the base of some of his molars on the bottom right and also his right, lower incisor. Those dark pockets indicate infection. I don’t think this infection is the same thing as a cavity since it is outside of the tooth itself. According to the vet, that infection allows the tooth to become loose and rotate.
Some of Gari’s molars have rotated quite a bit. One of the rotated molars had developed a sharp point that was digging into Gari’s tongue. That is what caused his mouth to foam.
At this point, Dr. Hoppes told me Gari will need to see the veterinary dentist. However, the dentist is not available until Nov. 19th at the earliest. He is out of town. In the meantime, they needed to file down the sharp points on Gari’s teeth so that he can eat.
The video shows the vets working on filing down some of the points of his teeth.
The problem only affects the teeth on Gari’s right side, and it is worst on the bottom molars. The teeth on his right side are perfect.
The question is, why did this happen? Dr. Hoppes says this is most likely due to diet; Gari is not eating enough tough, abrasive food, such as grass. I can’t argue with that. This is probably partly due to his being kept indoors when he was young so that he didn’t learn normal grazing habits. And then there is the terrible drought that our part of Texas has been experiencing for the two years Garibaldi has been with us. To put it mildly, the grass here is not lush.
A second possibility could be that Gari hurt his mouth on the right side somehow and that caused him to avoid using that side for chewing. This would have caused the teeth to wear improperly, which would have caused him to use them even less. It is easy to see how a vicious circle can develop where the teeth get worse and worse and he uses them less and less.
Currently, Garibaldi is taking pain killers and antibiotics. Hopefully this will bring the infection under control while we wait for him to see the veterinary dentist. Dr. Hoppes thinks the dentist will want to pull some teeth but I am really hoping it won’t come to that.
We will probably get in to see the dentist on Nov. 29th or 30th. Garibaldi is feeling pretty good right now. He is able to eat better than he has in the past few weeks. He hates being force fed his pills and I am so glad he is a non-biter! I dissolve the pills, which are a special peanut butter flavor that he supposed to like but doesn’t, in critical care and use a 60 ml syringe to force feed him. He hates that. Well, he’d better get used to it because I’m keeping him on antibiotics until he goes back. He cannot end up another Maple WoMER.
In case you are wondering, Maple seems to be doing fine. She goes back to her vet on Tuesday to get her eye sewed shut, assuming there is no more infection. Seriously, there better not be, I really cannot afford it.