Service dogs get free dental exams

Therapy dogs - shelties

Bob and Lee Saputo with five of their Shetland Sheepdogs, all service dogs that received free dental screenings on Aug. 23 at the UF Small Animal Hospital. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

For the first time ever, the UF Small Animal Hospital was able to offer free dental screening examinations to service dogs this year, thanks to Drs. Amy Stone and Sharon Hoffman and the American Veterinary Dental College.

Thirteen dogs received the exams at UF on Aug. 23. Hoffman, a board-certified veterinary dentist from Jacksonville, is mentoring Stone in the certification process. The AVDC is the board certifying group, and covers the cost of the examinations.

“The exams included getting a history of what the dogs eats and chews, what service or therapy the dog provides and any previous oral health issues,” Hoffman said.

The oral exams looked at things such as facial symmetry, occlusion, whether the animal had fractured, discolored or worn teeth, and whether there was any evidence of periodontal disease or any tumors.

Dr. Sharon Hoffman looks at the teeth of a Shetland sheepdog named Dove, owned by Bob and Lee Saputo of Ocala on Aug. 23 at the UF Small Animal Hospital. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

Then the veterinarians reviewed the findings with the dogs’ owners and made recommendations for further diagnostics and treatment. They also provided the owners with a handout that contained a list of healthy chew items and those which could prove damaging to dogs’ teeth.

Hoffman said the dogs seen during the oral health exams provided a variety of services, ranging from visiting hospital patients or people in assisted living facilities to search and rescue, mobility and hearing assistance.

“Some dogs were still in training and others have served for more than 10 years,” Hoffman said, adding that the owners of the animals seen at UF were very appreciative that the exams had been made available to them.

“The attendance was very good for the first year, and we identified dogs with oral pain in need of care,” she said. “I would call that a success.”




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