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Leybourne man forced to take pet pufferfish to dentist as teeth grew to abnormal size


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Goldie the five-year-old pufferfish from Leybourne was rushed to a special animal dentist to have her teeth sawed in half.

Her owner, Mark Byatt, 64, contacted the dentist after Goldie's gnashers grew so large that she couldn't eat and was at risk of starving.

Vets worked on Goldie to saw her toothy grin in half

Goldie is a porcupine pufferfish - it is normal for this breed to grow teeth but they are usually broken down naturally by their hard-shell diet.

Vet Daniel Calvo Carrasco said: “Porcupine pufferfish teeth are known as beaks and grow continuously throughout their lives.

“They’re usually kept short naturally, as they’re worn down on their regular diet of hard-shelled foods but, while these foods are provided in her home environment, she is not as forthcoming in eating them as her other tank mates.

“As a result, her upper beak grew to the point where it was hindering her ability to eat effectively.

Goldie was held in a damp towel to allow the dentist to work quickly. Picture: Sandhole Veterinary Centre/ SWNS
Goldie was held in a damp towel to allow the dentist to work quickly. Picture: Sandhole Veterinary Centre/ SWNS

Expert animal dentists at Sandhole Veterinary Cente in Snodland used a special saw to gently trim her teeth in half.

This wasn't a simple process - the fish had to be sedated using a special anaesthetic before any dental work could be carried out.

Mr Carrasco added: “Goldie was brought into the practice in a large watertight container containing water from her home tank and a licensed fish anaesthetic was placed into the water until she achieved a light plane of anaesthesia.

“To support her further, the water was oxygenated throughout.

“This meant she was still breathing nicely throughout but was able to be held for brief periods out of the water without becoming too stressed.”

Vets worked to saw the beak in half. Picture: Sandhole Veterinary Centre/ SWNS
Vets worked to saw the beak in half. Picture: Sandhole Veterinary Centre/ SWNS

Veterinary nurse, Debbie Addison, held Goldie in a damp towel, allowing the dentists to complete her treatment.

The damp towel prevented her from drying out or triggering the well-known defence mechanism in which she would inflate to twice her size.

It was during those brief periods out of the tank that a dental burr was used to cut through the upper beak.

Following the procedure, Goldie was placed into a second large container to recover from the anaesthetic.

Within five minutes she was able to stay up right and shortly after she was back to happily swimming around.

Goldie recovered very quickly and is now back at home in Leybourne. Picture: Sandhole Veterinary Centre/ SWNS
Goldie recovered very quickly and is now back at home in Leybourne. Picture: Sandhole Veterinary Centre/ SWNS

Goldie is now back in her tank at home with owner, Mark.

Mark said: “About three months ago, we noticed her front beak was growing very quickly even though she was eating cockle in shell every day.

“We aren’t sure why Goldie’s teeth never really managed to grind themselves naturally but we knew we needed to get them filed, although we were unsure about how to achieve this.

“I was also very concerned about the process of getting Goldie to the surgery, as transporting large tropical fish is not without risk.

"We're just thrilled to have Goldie back home. She is thriving back in her tank and none the worse for her visit to the dentist."

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