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Get Slim's fang fixed

Question: Our dachshund, Slim (he was once), got one of his upper fangs knocked out in a fight. It left a hole in the roof of his mouth, but we didn't know it at the time because we didn't take him to the vet. It was when he got this runny nose that wouldn't stop that we had the vet check him and she found the hole. Slim seems to feel okay but the vet says the hole should be closed up because there's an infection there and the runny nose will never stop. The trouble is that instead of just sewing it together, she wants to make a big deal out of it including lab work and antibiotics for weeks even before she goes ahead and operates. Is there anything wrong with trying to find one that will do the job for less? Even then it wouldn't be cheap.

Answer: When the long-rooted upper canine tooth is torn loose from the hard palate and jawbone, it produces a hole in the roof of the mouth, and frequently causes damage to the adjacent turbinate bones in the nose. This defect allows food to move from the mouth up into the nasal cavity, causing continual irritation and complicating the infection that usually develops. This condition is seldom life-threatening, though serious complications can develop. As with most kinds of surgical repair, early is better _ and cheaper. At this point, the surgery would be somewhat complex and have to be meticulous. But even then the repair would fail if the infection (which is undoubtedly present) was not eliminated prior to the operation.

Slim needs a prompt and complete resolution of this problem. This will happen only if it's expertly done. It's better for him, for you, and even for your pocket book, to have this oral-nasal fistula repaired in a competent and appropriate manner. Anything less would not only cost more in the long run but could even threaten Slim's survival.

Kittens can carry infection

Question: We've heard about toxoplasmosis infections in children and have taken sanitary precautions around our cats. What I want to know is whether it's only grown cats that carry this infection, or can kittens, too? _ T.E.

Answer: After weaning, kittens tend to become infected _ often from sampling raw meat. Remember, raw (including "rare" raw .


.) meat is a source of infection for other species, too, Homo sapiens included.

Dr. Frank Miller is a nationally syndicated columnist on pet care.