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Imagine a Cougar Having a Toothache!

From the Orange County Register by Erica Richie -

When people think of going to the dentist, most wouldn't imagine seeing a mountain lion undergoing a procedure.

But that's what happened on Wednesday at the Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital.

Dr. Scott Weldy, known as Orange County's go-to vet for exotic animals, performed a difficult dental procedure on a 5-year-old male cat. The 150-plus pound cat part of Cougar Preservation — an educational outreach program — had broken his upper right canine and needed the large root taken out. The multi-hour procedure left the cat drowsy but comfortable upon his recovery on Thursday, Weldy said.

The procedure developed by Dr. Eric Van Nice, a dental veterinarian in Tustin, helped Weldy achieve the desired results.

The mountain lion first was darted, and blood was taken from him to check for parasites and other problems. Then once under anesthesia, Weldy cut along the gum line by the tooth, flapped up that part and began grinding the large remaining tooth.

"It took at least 40 minutes," said Weldy, who treats big cats at the Orange County Zoo, the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound in Rosemond and Rancho Los Lomas in Trabuco Canyon. "It's big and you have to grind away for a long time. When you're done the tooth comes out at the side of the bone line. It looks beautiful now."

With two of his upper canines missing, the cat still has no trouble eating. If the cat was in the wild, Weldy said, he could still use his claws to catch prey but would have a harder time making a kill if the prey was a larger animal.

"It's not like he has to kill his prey," Weldy said. "Up until a few years ago, people didn't do dentistry on animals. It's the kind of thing that's done on people and can be done on big cats too."

At the end of the treatment, he was given a cleaning leaving his teeth perfect, Weldy said.

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