CDA Essentials 2017 • Volume 4 • Issue 7

Although feedback from dentists was quite positive, some expressed concern that the use of a therapy dog may be in violation of established standards of practice in some Canadian jurisdictions. To help clarify the issue, we reached out to the dental regulatory authorities (DRA) across Canada for information on any existing regulations or guidelines regarding the use of therapy dogs in the dental operatory. Most provinces do not have written guidelines in place on the use of therapy dogs. However, all provincial regulators reaffirmed the need for dental clinics to maintain exemplary standards of infection prevention and control. Two provinces in particular, Alberta and Ontario, have more explicit guidance regarding therapy dogs. The Alberta Dental Association + College shared an advisory it sent to Alberta dentists in May 2017 that states, in part: “Therapy dogs are not allowed in a dental clinic.” Similarly, in Ontario, although no official policies are in place, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario’s “strong position” is that animals and pets should not be allowed in the dental operatory. It is important to note the distinction between a therapy dog (as featured in the article) versus a service dog (e.g., an animal that can help a person with special needs cope with some daily activities). The accommodation of service dogs in the dental office would be covered under the Human Rights Codes in each province. In general, service dogs are permitted in the dental operatory, ensuring that standard infection control protocols are followed. If you have any further questions on this topic, please contact the DRA in your jurisdiction. a Reference 1. A Man’s Best Friend: When Therapy Dogs Join the Dental Team. CDA Essentials. 2017;4(5):24-7. Therapy Dogs in the Dental Operatory: FOLLOW-UP In Issue 5 of CDA Essentials, we featured an article about the use of therapy dogs in the dental office. 1 Therapy Dogs: Yes or No? Do you think therapy dogs compromise infection prevention and control? Do you support the use of therapy dogs in dental settings to help manage anxious patients? Let us know your thoughts. Email us at