Here is an update on Dutchess, the senior dog who had two growths that needed to be removed as well as horrible gum disease resulting from calculus buildup. You may also recall (see previous posts on Dutchess, story one and story two) that she has a heart murmur that had the potential to complicate anesthesia.
Dutchess did great in anesthesia and recovered well from the procedure. She ate well and felt well the day after surgery, but developed some problems on the second day post-op. Dutchess developed pneumonia on the right side of her chest, possibly from aspiration or a complication from her heart murmur.
Dutchess also had some drainage from one of the tumor removal sites. As one end of the incision was near the anus we theorized that some fecal bacteria may have contaminated the site.
We added two antibiotics that work synergistically, meaning that together these antibiotics can kill bacteria of types and with speed that neither would be able to do alone.
With all of this going on Dutchess lost her appetite. As her owner had been giving her medications in food, this made medicating her difficult, so we stepped in to administer oral medications for her twice daily.
Now Dutchess is doing great: eating well, having normal bowel movements and running around and having a great time.
Even when geriatric canine and feline patients have complications it doesn’t deter us from our conviction that properly-selected older dogs and cats can have anesthesia for problems that need surgical attention.
Even pneumonia is not a problem that can’t be overcome, as modern medications can quickly eliminate most types of pneumonia.
Anesthesia in older dogs and cats can be safe if the proper preanesthetic protocols are followed. Proper monitoring must be used during and after anesthesia and contact must be maintained with the pet owner in the days following surgery.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.