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Will 'canine disarming' procedure help Cotton, a severely aggressive dog?

July 24, 2009 |  7:26 am

Cotton, an American Eskimo dog who underwent an experimental dental procedure

Diane Krieger's dog, Cotton, has a problem: aggression so severe that nothing, including an assist from "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan, seemed to help. Krieger tried a litany of suggestions from experts to help Cotton, a 6-year-old American Eskimo, stop biting -- St. John's wort-type supplements designed to soothe him, desensitization training, a low-protein diet, even pepper spray -- but with little success. 

Faced with few options and desperate to do anything to avoid euthanizing Cotton, Krieger recently turned to a controversial dental procedure termed "canine disarming." The Times followed Cotton as he underwent the procedure and created this informative photo gallery on the subject.

According to Dr. David Nielsen, the South Bay veterinary dentist who performed the procedure on Cotton, disarming is accomplished by "doing a laser vital pulpotomy at the level of the canines. This takes away the slicing, knife effect of the canines and makes them blunt trauma instruments. We also reduce and blunt the incisors, further lessening the bite effect."  

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. opposes disarming on the grounds that it doesn't address underlying behavior issues that cause dogs to bite. The American Veterinary Dental College grudgingly accepts the use of the procedure in "selected cases," The Times reported.

It's certainly far from an ideal option, but Krieger thought it was her only choice and sprang for the $1,600 treatment. A month after Cotton's disarming, he still goes after strangers on Krieger's property, but now his bark is worse than his bite, as opposed to the other way around.  

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Dental technician Jose Dominguez, left, and veterinary dentist David Nielsen place Cotton on a table at Nielsen's Manhattan Beach clinic. Credit: Jake Stevens / Los Angeles Times

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