Guard, protect, and defend — these are what our military dogs do. Brave as they are, they’re not afraid to bite back and show teeth whenever needed.

Yes, the dogs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) K-9 unit are usually busy protecting the country. It comes as no surprise, then, that their dental health is usually the least of their priorities.

AFP is currently under the care of the Military Veterinary Association of the Philippines (MVAP). While they are not equipped with a dental machine for the dogs’ dental care, the University of the Philippines Venerable Lady Veterinarians Sorority (UPVLVS) was willing to provide assistance.

Observing Pet Dental Day

UPVLVS conducted its annual Pet Dental Day outreach with the AFP K-9 unit at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City. The sorority wanted to give back to the community by keeping the dogs healthy.

“We chose the military dogs from AFP [because they], just like our armed forces . . . keep our country safe. [As] future veterinarians, it [is] our responsibility to keep them healthy and taken care of,” said Clarissa Grace Olarte of UPVLVS.

The veterinarians performed routine oral prophylaxis on 16 canines who were tasked with detecting bombs and sniffing out contraband items — in other words, activities that could wear off their teeth.

What is oral prophylaxis?

According to Affinity Dental’s website, oral prophylaxis is “a procedure done for teeth cleaning. It removes tartar and plaque buildup from the surfaces of the teeth as well as those hidden in between and under the gums.”

Dental care for dogs

If dogs’ teeth aren’t cared for, they become prone to illness. Tartar fosters bacterial growth, causing gum irritation, inflammation, and other oral diseases.

“These dogs are normally given dog food, which predisposes them to tartar and several teeth- and gum-related problems, [all of] which could affect their sense of smell,” said Olarte.

Drs. Eugene Gom-o and Arrol Jan Aquino, graduates of the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Banos and UP Venerable Knight Veterinarians, respectively, supervised the outreach. Dr. Micah Sampaton-Cabanayan, also a UP graduate, gave a lecture on the importance of dental health in dogs.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s February 2019 issue.