Meet Vito, the Dental Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs work in shelters for domestic abuse victims, schools where traumatic incidents have left children fearful, depressed or anxious, and hospitals, where patients face uncertain futures.

Therapy_Dog“Not many dentists have dental therapy dogs,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office. “But when we began to realize how many patients had anxiety and would put off making an appointment, we thought it might be interesting to bring in Vito,” she added.

Vito is available in the office to calm anxious patients by request only. He creates a relaxing environment and many times helps patients with things such as reducing a strong gag reflex all while getting his share of petting and loving attention.

Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy is in Chicago, and has a long list of positive responses to their therapy animals. “Here in Phoenix the therapy dogs at Gabriel’s Angels help bring comfort to abused children, and the idea of empathy, love and trust [Gabriel’s Angels tagline] is something that can help adults, too,” says Dr. Ford.

There are amazing success stories of therapy dogs helping patients by lowering blood pressure and helping ease the effects of a stroke. StrokeSmart magazine describes the benefits of animal-assisted therapy: “AAT can allow stroke survivors to experience increased motivation, decreased depression, improved sensation, increased communication, decreased severity of hemiparesis and improved mobility and gait.” There are anecdotal stories of stroke victims developing better speech in the presence of a dental therapy dog. The damaged side of the brain doesn’t need to struggle and the general relaxation allows other areas of the brain help out. The result is an improvement in speech and coordination while the dog is present.

Vito is just over two years old, a Golden Retriever trained in Scottsdale as a Power Paws Assistance dog. He’s calm and loving and ready to meet anyone in Dr. Ford’s office who needs a break from dental induced anxiety, or just a friendly head to pet.


  1. I adore Vito beyond words! He’s a special addition to the already fabulous, and loving Dr. Ford’s team:)

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