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Consumers Beware: Unlicensed Care of Animals May Cause Health Problems and Increased Costs

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) warns consumers their pets may be put at risk when procedures such as teeth cleaning or therapeutic pet massage are provided by unlicensed individuals. This is because special training is necessary and some procedures such as dental cleanings require special instruments and may require anesthesia. Under California law, only a licensed veterinarian can legally practice animal dentistry.

"Like humans, animals deserve to be cared for by qualified individuals in a safe environment," said William Grant, II, DVM, president of the CVMA. "Most people wouldn't go to an unsupervised, untrained and unlicensed person for their family's care, so they should refrain from putting their pet in harm's way as well."

Teeth cleaning beyond the use of cotton swabs, dental floss, dentifrice and toothbrushes constitutes a dental procedure. Pet owners who believe a "teeth cleaning" at their groomers is the same as at their veterinarian's are making a mistake that could actually cause serious health problems and increased costs in the long run.

Dr. Grant added, "It's possible unlicensed teeth cleaners could damage the tooth enamel and accelerate plaque and tartar buildup, leading to more problems and risks to an animal's health."

For example, one equine dental procedure is "floating," in which sharp points on the edges of a horse's teeth are filed down to allow molars to properly oppose each other and create a proper bite. If this is not done correctly, the horse will be unable to chew its food properly, which can lead to impaction chokes, diarrhea and weight loss.

So-called "equine healers" have emerged who purport to help heal horses with holistic treatments. A handful of equine bodywork schools in California offer certificate programs, but the CVMA warns that the state does not recognize these certificates and those who practice alternative therapies on horses without a veterinary license are breaking the law.

Pet owners should avoid the risks by having their pets receive regular check-ups from a licensed veterinarian under proper veterinary supervision and care.

The California Veterinary Medical Association is the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, with more than 6,000 members. For more information, visit

SOURCE The California Veterinary Medical Association
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