Why is Service Dog Oral Health Important?

Service Dog Veterinary Dental Exam

Dr. Woodward gives TJ, one of our service dog patients, a high-five.

Regular veterinary oral health care and cleanings are an important part of every pet’s health, especially in the case of service dogs. Due to the nature of their work and partnership they provide to their owners, it is imperitive that service dogs receive regular veterinary dental care.  

All dogs, but especially working dogs, will mask signs of pain. They will tolerate painful situations far more than humans and do not show outward signs of discomfort often until the pain is excruciating. Imagine your ability to perform your job if you had a painful dental problem. This is also the case with a service dog, and while they will not necessarily show outward signs of pain, undetected dental conditions will lead to decreased performance in the field.

The only way to adequately assess a service dog’s oral health is through regulary veterinary dental exams including dental radiographs (x-rays) and cleaning while under anesthesia. Dental radiographs are the only way to see everything going on in the dog’s mouth, including below the gumline. They allow us to detect and assess conditions such as:

  • Periodontal Disease
    Periodontal disease causes pain to the dog and will lead to “attachment loss” of the tissue surrounding the dog’s tooth and ultimately cause premature tooth loss. By the time a dog has visible signs of periodontal disease, it is often too late to save the affected teeth and many times multiple extractions are necessary.
  • Broken Teeth
    Broken teeth are painful, will become infected and may cause an abscess surrounding bone, which if left undetected will lead to premature tooth loss.
  • Oral Tumors
    Oral tumors and growths are common in dogs and when detected early are often very treatable.

At Animal Dental Care, a comprehensive oral exam and assessment allows us to detect, and if necessary, treat dental conditions early, before they impact a service dog’s ability to work. We also want to remind service dog owners that anesthesia free dental cleanings are not a viable form of oral health care and can cause far more excessive damage and dental disease for your dog. Read a recent case detailing the risks of anesthesia free dental cleanings.