Skip to content

Military Working Dog Undergoes Root Canal Treatment

Dog and Endodontist

Captain Dr. Melissa Ruff is pictured with Hospital Corpsman HN Jonathan Lamberth,  Army Veterinary Corps Officer Captain Kelly Horgan and Veterinary Tech Krystal Tronboll.

CHICAGO – The military is serious business. So is saving one’s natural teeth, even for four-legged service members which is why Dr. Melissa Ruff, a Captain in the U.S. Navy, 1st Dental Battalion/Naval Dental Center Camp Pendleton and specialized dentist known as an endodontist, performed a root canal treatment on a military working dog (MWD) on July 2.

“During my 20 years of service, I have only worked on human sailors and Marines.  This was the first time I treated a military K9,” Dr. Ruff said. “This was a very special and fun experience, and I was extremely honored to treat a military K9, who performs amazing work and saves lives.”

The MWD, a Belgian Malinois, is considered a military service member, holds Non-Commissioned Officer rank, and performs detection and patrol work, such as bomb sniffing and other operations with military personnel.

It’s vital for the military dogs to keep their natural teeth, maintaining bite strength to fully perform their job. The dog needed the tooth saving treatment after an Army Veterinary Corps Officer (VCO) noticed two broken teeth which needed root canal treatment.

According to Dr. Ruff, the procedure was similar to treating a human although dog’s root canal is a lot longer.  While dogs’ teeth are a different shape and size, the advanced technology endodontists use, like specialized microscope and the rotary instrument helped ensure the procedure went smoothly and was a success.

“The Army veterinarians knew of the endodontic specialty and that endodontists have advanced training in saving teeth! When their K9 needed root canal, they sought after an endodontist,” Dr. Ruff continued. “The dog is doing great! The VCO updated me that the K9 is much happier after he got his teeth fixed!”


About the American Association of Endodontists

The American Association of Endodontists, headquartered in Chicago, represents more than 8,000 members worldwide. Endodontics is one of nine dental specialties formally recognized by the American Dental Association. The AAE, founded in 1943, is dedicated to excellence in the art and science of endodontics and to the highest standard of patient care. The Association inspires its members to pursue professional advancement and personal fulfillment through education, research, advocacy, leadership, communication and service. For more information about the AAE, visit the Association’s website at