I was running an errand this morning, and had to park in front of my former dog groomer's shop. She isn't my "former" groomer for anything to do with her -- she was wonderful. I just switched to a mobile groomer during the pet food recall, and then stopped getting the dogs groomed at all after the mutant germ from outer space took over our lives.
I had a very high opinion of the former groomer. She did a terrific job on the dogs, had many years of experience, and her place was spotless. And while I was parking, I noticed a sign in her window that made me laugh out loud (and hit the curb, in fact):
Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.
But hanging right next to that sign was another that wiped the smile off my face. It was the announcement that the grooming shop was now offering "anesthesia-free dentistry" by Canine Care.
My objections to so-called "anesthesia-free dentistry" include the fact that it's a cosmetic practice only and has no benefit to the dog's dental health -- but it will give you, the owner, a false sense of having done something beneficial for your dog, when all you did was make him prettier.
There's also the fact that scraping the teeth without being able to completely examine them and polish out the rough patches and grooves simply allows oral disease to go unnoticed and creates a matrix for the rapid re-colonization of bacteria on the teeth.
It also fails to get at the bacterial buildup where it's doing its damage, under the gumline.
As for Canine Care, in 2004, the Veterinary Medical Board of California ordered the owner of Canine Care, Cindy Collins, to stop "teaching, performing and directing others to perform" the procedure, after administrative law judge Ralph B. Dash said she should be "permanently enjoined" from doing so.
What's particularly ironic is that her defense for the charges brought against her was exactly my first point: that the procedure was not a veterinary procedure -- illegal for a non-veterinarian to perform in California -- because it was simply cosmetic and had no health benefit. Judge Dash responded that "The fact that it fails (to help the animal) . . . does not convert a veterinary dental procedure into a purely cosmetic one."
I was not able to find anything anywhere that suggested this ruling had been overturned or amended, so I have no idea why this company is still doing business at grooming shops all over California (because, yo, I let my hairdresser clean my teeth all the time).
Regardless of the legal issues involved, I'm sad to see this otherwise lovely, reputable grooming shop falling onto the scare-tactic bandwagon of confounding tooth-scraping with professional dental cleaning. And I'm even sadder to see people's understandable fear of anesthesia being played on by those who want to make a few bucks.
If you want more details on the problems with these cosmetic dentistries, you can read my articles here and here.
And if you want to know what you can do to protect your dogs against both dental disease and anesthesia risk, then brush your dogs' teeth every single day, and stop feeding them starch-containing foods (which means kibble). If you can't or won't do that, or if those steps alone don't keep your dogs' mouths healthy, then face the reality that you cannot properly clean and examine a dog's teeth, gums, and mouth without anesthesia, and devote your efforts to finding the best, safest anesthetic protocol for your pet.
But please, don't fall for the "anesthesia-free dentistry" pitch.