Interview with Dr. Martinez from Little Paws Animal Clinic

Interview with Dr. Martinez from Little Paws Animal Clinic


Owner of K9 Gentle Dental, Robin Canuel, recently sat down with one of our host clinic vets, Dr. Martinez of Little Paws Animal Clinic to discuss pet dental health.


Your vet clinic is a holistic clinic, not just conventional, what are the benefits of providing holistic care?

Dr. Martinez: The public is requesting it. Society is getting more holistic, people are asking for it. Bottom line is, we are at the stage where we understand that medicine is not just giving drugs. It is more than that. That’s why we have the water fountain and relax in our waiting room, when a cat comes with urinary issues, we don’t give medicine and send the cat home, without approaching the holistic aspect of it. And by the way, we can solve a lot of problems holistically even without giving drugs at all.

The teeth is one of the issues. When you teach the owner to brush the teeth in a puppy, and you explain to them why brushing is important, then you will have an owner who will prevent problems in the future including heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, etc. This is beneficial for the owner and the pet.

So it reduces diseases. Less drugs or no drugs by using the holistic approach. I’m not saying no drugs, some pets need drugs, I’m not against drugs, I’m holistic, I use everything. By using less drugs, you have less reactions and side affects. They aren’t always the right answer.


You offer both anesthesia and anesthesia-free dental cleaning. What are the benefits of anesthesia-free?

Dr. Martinez: Many vets think there are more problems by cleaning the teeth with anesthesia-free methods. But overall, I believe there is more owner compliance with anesthesia-free, people are more open to it rather than anesthesia dentals. Obviously there is always risk with anesthesia, or that is what people think. It is more costly because you pay for the anesthesia, the vet, the assistant, the blood work and so on. So it is more expensive. I do feel that it (anesthesia-free) can be effective because you see the dog twice a year, rather than once every 5 years. More cleaning is more beneficial.


Why do you think many vets are against anesthesia-free?

Dr. Martinez: It is not under supervision of a vet, don’t have anyone there to consult, no control over who is working with you, no control of instruction or education. And, lack of standards. There are a lot of issues, there is no umbrella, no one standard.

Robin: These are definitely problems in the industry. At K9 Gentle Dental, when we aren’t in a clinic with a vet like we are at your clinics, we always refer clients out to vets when there are problems we cannot help with, like dental disease or loose teeth. The lack of standards is also an issue. We trained with a vet-run institution and with a local holistic vet to increase our knowledge of canine dental hygiene and many vets are very impressed with the level of cleaning we are able to accomplish.


In what circumstances would you recommend a cleaning under anesthesia?

Dr. Martinez: When there is a severe dental disease, severe gum diseases, and conditions requiring extractions or surgery.  Obviously different dogs have different issues. Dogs with conditions where the risks of handling the dogs could cause heart attack or something. Difficult dogs like aggressive dogs.  In some cases it is best to have antibiotics before touching the mouth, like with severe dental disease, so in those cases we would want to have the dog in to see us at the vet clinic before referring them to you for anesthesia-free.

Robin: We are very much in to vet integration. We encourage people to go see the vet after the cleaning, or if you have an old dog or a dog with a problem, we ask you see the vet first. We do our best to screen appointments and make sure to encourage people to visit their vets regularly as well.


When would you refer a dog to anesthesia-free cleanings?

Dr. Martinez: When you see tartar, healthy gums, even some gingivitis.  If they have more problems we would put on antibiotics before referring to you. If they have more severe problems, we could refer them to be put under anesthesia for the cleaning. If there is a tiny bit of tartar, we refer to you. All dogs who are risky to put under anesthesia. Routine cleanings, or owners who don’t brush or does not properly brush. Many people say they won’t brush, but would prefer to come to the dental hygienist every three months. That’s fine! If they would prefer to see you every 3 to 4 months instead of brushing, that is fine.

Robin: We find that it’s really important to brush anyways because of the gum health. Even though the teeth still get dirty in a few months, the gums get healthier.


Offering both methods in your vet clinic is great. Do you think it’s something that will become more popular in the future?

Dr. Martinez: I suspect it will. But, it will be very hard to change the mentality of the vets. Canadians are refusing to even try different methods. But what changes society is not the vets, not the physicians, it’s the public. You and me. So if you convince the public that this is the way to go, there will be more pressure on the health system. When I came to BC, they just started changing something. Acupuncture was not allowed. 20 years ago they could put you in jail. Now it’s all over. It’s up to us, the public, to request it.


Do you see an increase of dental procedures performed here at the clinic now that you offer both methods?

 Dr. Martinez: Definitely yes. I think it has increased by at least 50%.


Do you receive any negative feedback for offering this or other holistic services?

Dr. Martinez: Absolutely not. Everyone is very happy.



We would like to thank Dr. Martinez and his staff for taking the time to answer our questions. And especially thanks for being part of our team as a host clinic and for taking on so many of the client referrals that we recommend see a vet. If you are in the area and are looking for a holistic vet who supports anesthesia-free cleanings, please visit Little Paws Animal Clinic.


  1. Colleen says:

    I have a 5 yr old Shih Tsu and am very interested in having her teeth done. I would however like an idea of what this would cost. Please forward more information.
    Thank you

  2. Tracey says:

    I have three senior dogs.
    1 shitzu/pom
    1 terripoo
    1 toy poodle

    I am very interested in getting their teeth cleaned – but cannot afford the estimate given by my vet . I see the cleaning cost. But how would you deal with any situation that might come up. I like the ideal of no anesthesia but how do you determine any situation at one of your clinics.

    • HannahBock says:

      Hi Tracy,
      If we find anything that requires veterinary care we always refer our clients to their veterinarian. Is this the kind of situation you mean?

  3. Sheryl says:

    I’m located in the Lower Mainland and have a 5 year old beagle who has an increasing amount of tartar buildup on his back teeth. He is quite hyper active however and I’m not sure whether he would lay still for an anesthesia-free cleaning..

    • HannahBock says:

      Hi Sheryl,
      It’s a great idea to have your dog’s teeth cleaned when you notice tartar build up so thanks for checking us out. Hyper dogs are often no problem for our cleaners. They are all experienced and have dealt with all sorts of different dog personalities. We take our time in getting them settled and are very gentle, which often is enough to calm them right down. If your dog is too hyper or becomes too anxious about lying still, or for any other reason we cannot complete the cleaning, there is no charge to you. We would love to have you and your dog in at one of our many Lower Mainland clinics. Hopefully we will be able to surprise you like so many other dog owners who think their dog won’t lie still. Cheers, Hannah

  4. Colette says:

    Do you provide services in Toronto, Ontario. My vet has quoted me $700-800 to clean my 7 year old Chihuahua’s teeth – has beginning gingivitis and possibly one loose tooth. I cannot afford this. They cleaned his teeth a few years ago ($500) and extracted one tooth.

    Can you help?

    Thank you.

    • HannahBock says:

      Hi Colette,
      We only go to Ontario about once a year and we were unfortunately there just a few months ago. If you would like, I can add you to our Ontario email list and let you know next time we are there. We are not veterinarians however, and so we would not be able to deal with the loose tooth. When our clients come in with things like loose teeth or pockets, we refer them to their vets to have it looked at. I am sorry to hear about the trouble with the cost, it is too unfortunate that he has another loose tooth. Without seeing your dog it’s hard to say, but it might be best to have the loose tooth taken care of by a vet and then we could see you next time we are in Ontario for follow up cleaning to help maintain a clean mouth. If you would like to be on our mailing list, please let me know and I’ll add you. Good luck! -Hannah

  5. Sue says:

    I have a dog , 8 years old.
    He needs dental scaling.
    I live in toronto, northyork.
    When you come in toronto,
    Let me know to get service.

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