parker, Pet Health

Troubled tongue no more! Parker, surgery & The Senior Dog

Earlier this month I told you about Parker’s ranula, the blocked salivary duct in his mouth.  We found it last May during a routine vet exam- it was small at the time and didn’t seem to bother him much, so we decided on a wait-and-see approach.

At one point last summer it burst, so we were hoping it was gone for good.  Unfortunately it wasn’t, and eventually it started to get larger again. During Parker’s

Trying to drain the ranula during Parker’s dental

dental in January his doctor tried to drain it with a needle in hopes that we could get the fluid out and make it smaller.  We got some fluid out- a lot of the backed up saliva- but it didn’t make much of a difference.  The ranula was still there, and it was big.

It was next to the molars on his maxilla (lower jaw) so he would accidentally bite it when eating and it was turning into scar tissue. In April I got a photo of him yawning and got to see the extent of his ranula.  It was huge.  Parker had started smacking his lips every once in a while, and I could see that his tongue was starting to shift to being almost sideways in his mouth.  I was done- it had to go. I contacted Dr. Sam, the doctor who took out his left eye in September and she was happy to help.

I am a big believer in maintaining quality of life, even if it means putting them under anesthesia, despite a pet’s age.  In my daily life as a vet nurse I hear over and over “I don’t want to put Fluffy under because she’s old”. Many times they’re talking about doing it for procedures like mass removals or dentals which would increase the dog’s quality of life. Just because your dog is a senior does not automatically mean they should not undergo anesthetic procedures!

There is always risk to anesthesia for pets and for people, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done! When considering anesthesia for your senior dog it is best if you discuss any chronic conditions or illnesses with your veterinarian. They should review current blood work and discuss any abnormalities with you, and what the next steps are.

Parker’s quality of life was being impacted by his ranula.  It was starting to bother him, so it was definitely time for it to come out.  His blood work is perfect for a

Side view of Parker’s ranula

dog his age, so thankfully we had that working for us!

Parker was fasted the morning of surgery.  We dropped him off at the hospital early.  Because I didn’t want to spend the day worrying, Kevin and I took my Mom’s little girl Poms for a bath at the local self dog wash!

A morning de-shedding Grandma’s little Poms was

Minnie, left, Lily, Right

definitely what I needed to keep my mind off of the surgery!  Both are rescues- Minnie from the euthanasia list at a local intake-only, high kill shelter; Lily, from a hoarding situation turned owner relinquishment when her first adoptive family didn’t work out. Both of them together weigh less than Oliver!

Finally in the afternoon we got the news- we could pick Parker up at dinner time.  We were surprised- at drop off one of the nurses said she wasn’t sure if Parker would stay overnight or not.  He had stayed overnight after his eye was removed, so we were expecting him to stay again.

We headed over and a very much awake Parker was handed over to me! We got post-op instructions: no soft food for two weeks so it doesn’t get stuck in the sutures and to try to keep the wild old man quiet!  We were also to douse the left side of his mouth in a dilute chlorhexadine solution twice a day.  We succeeded in the no soft food part, but he was NOT a fan of the chlorhexadine! I’ve accidentally tasted it while working with pets- gross.  I don’t blame him!

The anti-inflammatory medicine that Parker was prescribed- which he has had before- didn’t sit well in his stomach this time. He had a few episodes of vomiting a few days later, so we switched up his medicines to more opiate-based.

A week later I took him to work with me for a recheck with his normal vet. She was thrilled!  The sutures healed well and there was minimal redness and swelling.  Parker was definitely acting like his usual wild self!

It’s now been about two and a half weeks since his surgery. Parker is 100% back to normal!  It took about a week for his tongue to get used to being able to be back in the normal position in his mouth.  He had gotten used to having to flop it over

Two weeks post-surgery. Don’t mind the Grey’s Anatomy in the background! 🙂

to the right!  Parker still winces every once in a while when yawning.  I’m not sure if it’s because it’s painful (doesn’t seem to be, it looks great!) or if it’s because he’s not sure he should be yawning so big!

Yawning pre-surgery!



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