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WARNING: Don’t Let A Groomer Do “Dental” On Your Dog

I am increasingly noticing the following signs go up over groomer storefronts, “Painless Gentle Dental,” “Anesthesia Free Gentle Dental,” and other variations. When I see it, I photograph the signs and report them to the Florida State Veterinary Board. Essentially, these groomers are trying to sell dental services although none has a medical license or training to do so. Not only is it illegal, but it is a serious danger to your pet.

While groomers offering tooth brushing services are perfectly acceptable, getting their hands on dental tools and passing off their untrained use of them as a replacement for a dental prophylaxis properly performed by a veterinarian, is quackery in its most serious sense. Not being trained to use these instruments leads to poor cleaning, especially below the gum line where the tartar exerts its worst damage, but also results in frequent injury, infection, tooth fractures, and enamel damage. Not following up scaling of the teeth with a proper polish, leaves pits and grids on the teeth that serve as matrix to actually make tartar likely to adhere more readily in the future.

What’s more, groomers often do not scale the back teeth and the inside surfaces of the teeth either because they are satisfied to only clean the teeth and surfaces that are visible to the owner, or they lack the ability to get in those areas because most dogs will not open up and say “Ah.” Thus the inner surfaces of the teeth, rear premolars and molars are left virtually unclean, while the dog owner is left with a false sense of security that her pet has healthy teeth and gums.

Case in point, I saw a 12-year-old Shih Tzu recently for a routine visit. The owner was so surprised when I told her that her dog had Stage 4/4 periodontal disease, the most severe level of periodontal disease, since her dog was getting dentals from her groomer once every 6 months for her entire life. Sure enough, the incisors, canine teeth, and forward premolars were clean, but the rear teeth and inner surfaces of the teeth have severe tartar, pus at the gum lines, gum recession, and bone loss. I ended up having to perform 14 tooth extractions on the dog, in the course of two hours of oral surgery, at significant expense to the owner.

Groomers performing dentistry is unethical at best, illegal and dangerous at worst. Not only should you avoid allowing a groomer to offer your dog dental services beyond tooth brushing, but you should report a groomer offering such services to your state veterinary board.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care

23 thoughts on “WARNING: Don’t Let A Groomer Do “Dental” On Your Dog

  1. Amy Whitson says:

    As a groomer myself, I completely agree with you! Groomers have no business in a dog’s mouth without proper training! Brushing can stir up infection in the gums and lead to a very sick pet. Thank you for this great message!

    • Luis Santiago says:

      Groomers shouldn’t be doing anal glands either since that is not technically grooming…. I wonder why the vets aren’t mad about that ?

  2. judy minghini says:

    I’m a groomer and I don’t think that we should even offer brushing, again it gives owner this false comfort that their dogs teeth are clean, when it’s only done once every six to eight weeks, it’s a lie and I won’t practice this in my shop.

  3. Crystina says:

    I am a groomer and I offer partial cleaning when the dog will allow but I am sure to let the parents know of any risks that go along with it. Personally I would rather keep the bulk scraped down so that the dog doesn’t have to be sedated quite as often because that can come with much higher risks. Being educated and keeping your clients educated is the key to having good results with dental cleaning. I would never offer it as a replacement for a teeth cleaning because that would be silly.

    • Luis Santiago says:

      We do plaqclenz and it works great. Not a replacement for a dental. But not everyone can afford a dental so helping save what teeth you can is better than doing nothing. I’ve worked with some vets that didnt do a great job and also broke teeth ,a jaw etc . Just remember all vets are not good vets and a bad one can cost you alot

  4. Concerned Girl named Ruth says:

    Unfortunatly this is being done at our salon and I just don’t know who to report it. The girl is reaping $150 per time and it is being done right amongst the grooming going on hair flying all over restraining the dog and using barbicide to clean pick and blood everywhere. This disgusts me. Who do I call?

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