UW Veterinary Care dentists to provide free exams for service dogs

May 17, 2013

Certified Veterinary Technician Jill Medenwaldt and Veterinary Dental Specialist Christopher Snyder perform an oral health exam on patient “Parker” Brusda.

Photo: Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association

UW Veterinary Care will participate in the second annual American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) Service Dog Oral Healthcare Exam program during June.

With the help of veterinary dental specialists nationwide, the month-long event will honor guide dogs, disability assistance dogs, working and military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and other dogs who serve the public by providing them with complimentary oral health care examinations.

The dentistry and oral surgery service at UW Veterinary Care, the teaching hospital at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, will lend its own expertise to the cause, including the services of two veterinary dental specialists, Chris Snyder and Jason Soukup, who are diplomates of the AVDC.

To become AVDC dental specialists, veterinarians must complete advanced education, training, and examinations to meet the strict standards set by the AVDC. Snyder and Soukup are two of only four clinically practicing veterinary dental specialists in the state of Wisconsin who hold this distinction.

All throughout June, service dogs will be examined for signs of periodontal disease, fractured or discolored teeth, oral masses, and other oral and dental diseases that can cause pain or discomfort. Although participating specialists will not offer treatment as part of the program, they will provide a treatment plan if they find oral or dental abnormalities. Specialists will also teach service dog owners and handlers about the benefits of preventative oral health care.

"Our dental and oral surgery team has treated service dogs in the past, and we're well aware that oral pain can prevent these dogs from working effectively," says Snyder. "This program aims to ensure that service dogs across the country are able to do their important work at peak efficiency, and we're pleased to be a part of it."

Owners and handlers of service animals who have been certified through a formal training program or are enrolled in a training program can register online between May 1 and June 15. Once registered, owners or agents will receive a registration number and can schedule an appointment with UW Veterinary Care in June on a first-come, first-served basis.

—Nik Hawkins