A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, right?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
As is the case with humans, dogs too develop problems such as tartar and plaque buildup and gingivitis. Unbeknownst to most, is the fact that if not properly accessed and treated, these problems can lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease.

In the importance of military working dogs and their detection capabilities, it is significantly vital that they receive an annual dental examination and cleaning, as the lives of others depend on it.

For the dogs at MacDill, this type of special preventative maintenance is conducted by the U.S. Army Public Health Command Veterinary Clinic.

What many don't know is just how important this annual cleaning really is.

Every dog comes with a set of specialized sensory organs enabling them to extract vital information from their environment making them ideal for police and military work.

These specialized organs are found inside the nasal cavity and an opening within the upper part of a dog's mouth, which is an essential piece of a dog's scent-identifier, known as the vomeronasal organ. Within this organ is an auxiliary smell receptor that contains sensory neurons which detects routinely undetectable chemical stimuli.

If the VNO becomes inflamed due to bacteria or an excessive buildup of tartar it will hinder MWD's ability to properly perform duties necessary for military explosive/narcotic operations, hence the importance of an annual dental exam.

"Being able to do this small yet vital job is an honor," said Jefferson. The lives that these dogs could potentially save here, as well as down range are why we do our best to keep dogs as healthy as possible."