Proper Dental Care Transforms Eeyore from a Depressed Character into a Happy Donkey
Dec 7, 2011Rob's View from the Passenger Seat by Robert Koontz, DVM
Sandy was not the typical horse owner. She had not grown up with horses. She was not interested in learning to ride. She knew very little about horses. But what she did know is that she loved Eeyore, the depressed donkey character, from the Winnie the Pooh children's' books by A.A. Milne. So she went out and bought a miniature donkey. Of course she named her new friend Eeyore.
Eeyore was anything but the depressed little donkey from the stories. Sandy's Eeyore was full of energy and life. She soon found she liked him that way; quickly Eeyore became a beloved member of the family. When Eeyore started to get sick, Sandy was concerned. She called her veterinarian, but despite his treatment Eeyore got worse. He had large amounts of snot draining from his nose. He had a consistently high temperature. He refused to eat or drink.
Finally Sandy's veterinarian gave her the worst possible news; there was nothing more he could do for the little donkey. It was time to consider euthanasia. Sandy refused to give up. "Can we take Eeyore to the new horse hospital in Columbia City", she thought, "maybe they can help"?
When Eeyore was led into our hospital I must admit that my first thought was that the referring veterinarian may have been right. Maybe the most merciful thing would be to help this poor creature die. The little donkey was emaciated and depressed. He was so weak he swayed when he walked. He looked every bit the depressed character that was his namesake.
As Dr. Minnemeyer started to examine the little donkey we started to realize that he wasn't that bad. Sure he was dehydrated and had a severe sinus infection; but we could fix those things. His heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver were all functioning normally.
The first order of business was to stabilize our patient. This was accomplished with a combination of IV fluids, antibiotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Eeyore was looking better but he still refused to eat. With medical treatment however he was soon strong enough to start to diagnose the cause of the chronic sinus infection.
Dr. Minnemeyer knew that many sinus infections were caused by neglected dental maintaince. When we put a speculum in Eeyore's mouth the problem was obvious. He had large caudal hooks. Caudal hooks are defined as an overgrowth of the last molars in the back of the mouth. Eeyore's caudal hooks were so large they were driving into the opposing bony tissue. The over grown teeth had actually created a hole into the sinus called an oromaxillary fistula. Feed was being forced from the mouth thru the hole and into the paranasal sinus. (For more information about caudal hooks see our educational article and case study.)
Unlike the character in the book Sandy's Eeyore had a reason to be depressed. Trying to close his mouth to eat must have been excruciatingly painful. The chronic sinus infection would have made him feel a constant headache. The fever made him feel depressed and weak. It's no wonder that Eeyore was deteriorating.
Dr. Minnemeyer and I cut off the overgrown caudal hooks and filed Eeyore's teeth until he had a perfect bite. Almost immediately Eeyore started to feel better. Within hours he was eating again. The sinus infection cleared as the oromaxillary fistula closed.
Eeyore's recovery was remarkable. He had soon transformed from a depressed character to a happy donkey. Once again he was Sandy's Eeyore, full of life and energy.