So your dog needs his teeth cleaned. The question is, how much will it cost?
Generally speaking, for a basic teeth cleaning process for a young, healthy dog, you can expect to pay $200 to $300.
However, the truth is that the average cost of dog teeth cleaning varies a ton depending on which veterinary clinics you visit and where you live. Some owners have reported paying as little as $100, while others report closer to $700!
Read on to learn some of the factors that’ll influence the cost of having your dog’s teeth cleaned, some of the options that are available to owners, and a few tips for saving money while ensuring your dog’s oral health remains good!
Key Takeaways: How Much Does Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost?
- The cost of a dog dental cleaning varies, but usually runs between $200 and $300. Some of the things that’ll influence the cost of the procedure include your dog’s overall oral health, any dental disease present, his age, and your location.
- Dog dental cleanings usually require anesthesia to prevent pain and ensure the procedure goes smoothly. However, some vets offer light cleanings without sedating your pet, though not all dogs are good candidates for this approach.
- In addition to regular tooth cleanings, you’ll want to care for your canine’s chompers between visits. This means doing things like brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and providing him with lots of dental treats.
Factors That Affect Dog Dental Cleaning Costs
There are a number of elements that will affect the cost of your dog’s teeth cleaning. However, one of these factors – anesthesia – will have a far greater impact on your bill than any other.
For starters, anesthesia medications are not cheap, so this ratchets the price up right off the bat. But in addition to the cost of the medication, anesthesia also creates a number of associated costs, including some or all of the following:
- Pre-anesthesia lab work to ensure your dog is healthy enough to withstand the anesthesia medication and to rule out dogs that may be susceptible to bad reactions.
- Additional staff to administer the medication and monitor your dog during the procedure.
- The placement of an endotracheal tube, which will allow your dog to breathe during the cleaning.
- Additional recovery time, which takes up kennel space in the clinic and increases the amount of care the staff will have to provide your dog.
A few of the other factors that will affect the average cost of dog dental care include:
As noted, the price tag of a dog’s teeth cleaning varies greatly between vet clinics and different regions of the country. Generally speaking, the higher the cost of living in your area is, the higher the price you’ll pay to have your dog’s teeth cleaned.
If your dog is older, vet offices will often want to do blood work to evaluate your dog’s health and make sure that he won’t have a bad reaction to the anesthesia. This can cost an extra $100 or more.
Many vets base their dog tooth cleaning costs (in part) on the size of your dog, since larger dogs need more medication and anesthesia. It can also take more time to clean the teeth of a large dog when compared to a pint-sized pooch.
In some cases of severe dental issues, your dog may need a tooth extracted (in fact, he may even need several teeth extracted). Extractions can range from $50 to $100 or more depending on the number of teeth that need to be removed and where the teeth are located (molar teeth often cost more to extract).
Some vet offices require a pre-dental exam, which can add an extra $50 or so to the process. This is usually only required for new canine patients, but some vets require it for all doggos.
In many cases, your vet will recommend or require that your dog’s mouth is X-rayed before carrying out the cleaning. This can obviously increase the cost of having your dog’s teeth cleaned, but it is an important step that can help your vet determine if your dog is suffering from any serious oral health issues.
Pet Dental Cleaning Services: What Are Your Options?
There are basically have two places to get your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned. You can:
- Go to your vet. Many (if not most) vets will perform a deep cleaning on your dog’s teeth. Many will also perform a number of other relatively simple procedures, such as tooth extractions or root canals. This is probably the preferred option for many owners, as your vet will already be familiar with your dog (and vice versa).
- Visit a board-certified veterinary dog dentist. While regular vets receive a bit of basic dental training, veterinary dentists receive extensive training in dental care, and they must pass additional exams and complete a 4-year dental residency program to obtain their board certification. This means that veterinary dog dentists are typically the better choice for any type of complicated or difficult procedure.
You obviously want to select the right option for you and your pet, but the most important thing is you choose one. Whether you opt for your vet or a veterinary dog dentist, the important thing is that you have your dog’s teeth cleaned regularly.
What Happens During a Dog Tooth Cleaning?
Before starting a conventional dental cleaning, your veterinarian will usually confirm that your pooch is healthy enough for the procedure by conducting a physical exam and by doing blood tests. Your pooch will then be “put under” with anesthesia medications to start the cleaning process.
The vet will then remove plaque and tartar from all sides of your dog’s teeth using a tool called a scaler. The dentist will then use probes to measure the size of the pocket between your dog’s teeth and his gums. Oversized pockets can indicate signs of periodontal disease, which will necessitate additional treatments.
Assuming your dog doesn’t need any additional treatments (such as additional teeth extractions or gum disease treatment) the mouth is rinsed and the teeth are polished to help prevent plaque buildup (and keep your dog’s chompers looking great!).
During the procedure, your veterinarian will also conduct a comprehensive oral exam to check for any other signs of injury, tooth damage, or periodontal disease. If your pooch needs any tooth extractions, these will also be conducted while under anesthesia.
Once the procedure is completed, your dog will be allowed to recover slowly and your veterinarian will advise aftercare for your canine companion.
How Long Does a Dog Tooth Cleaning Take?
An uncomplicated dog cleaning procedure will usually take around 45 minutes to an hour. However, if the cleaning involves tooth extractions, root canals, or any kind of complications arise during the procedure, the process could take multiple hours.
In most cases, your dog will be able to come home on the same day of the procedure. Most furry friends recover from the procedure’s anesthesia after about half an hour and should spend the rest of the day resting at home.
Aftercare: What Should You Do After Your Dog’s Tooth Cleaning?
Following your pup’s procedure, you’ll want to follow your veterinarian’s specific instructions for the aftercare of your canine companion. Your dog will typically need to rest at home and recover from the procedure during the following day.
Fido might also be given a softer diet which will be easier to consume while his teeth are still sensitive.
What About Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings?
As explained above, anesthesia will drastically increase the cost of having your pet’s teeth cleaned. So, owners are often understandably eager to avoid it whenever possible. But unfortunately, anesthesia is almost always required for a deep cleaning.
It doesn’t matter how well-behaved your dog is or how well he tolerates routine tooth brushings, serious dental care requires a seriously sedated pup.
This is simply the only way to obtain clear dental X-rays or allow the vet to safely work in your pet’s mouth. A full-blown dental cleaning also requires a lot of work below the gum line, which would be quite painful to a non-sedated pup.
Nevertheless, some veterinarians and veterinary dentists will offer a light, anesthesia-free cleaning.
Such treatments aren’t cruel – pain medications (typically a nerve block, which numbs the area) are used to keep your pet relatively pain-free during the procedure. However, your dog won’t be put “out,” as he would if the vet anesthetizes him.
Obviously, this is only an option with a small subset of dogs who are willing to let a stranger mess around in their mouth for a long time and well-behaved enough to sit reasonably still for the duration of the procedure.
And most importantly, you must understand that an anesthesia-free dental cleaning will not treat the areas below the gum line, where most of the serious periodontal disease occurs. In fact, the American Veterinary Dental College does not recommend anesthesia-free dental cleanings for this very reason.
The anesthesia-free route is likely better than not having your dog’s teeth cleaned, but a traditional deeper cleaning will generally be better than a super simple cleaning.
Just discuss the issue with your vet if you are considering this approach. Your vet may be willing to perform this type of procedure personally or to refer you to another veterinary professional who will.
If you strike out on both of these fronts, you’ll just need to start Googling — most owners living in major cities or suburbs should be able to find these types of services.
Why Are Dog Teeth Cleanings So Important?
Doggie dental cleanings are essential for preventing dental disease. Unfortunately, painful conditions like periodontal disease are extremely common in dogs, so regular checkups are a must as a pet parent.
While brushing your dog’s teeth regularly helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup, cleanings are much more thorough and also provide your veterinarian the opportunity to conduct a proper oral exam.
Teeth cleanings are especially important for owners with small dog breeds, as they can be more susceptible to oral health problems. And though dental cleanings obviously represent some additional costs for your pet’s care, they are well worth the expense and will help keep your pooch healthy and prevent future oral health issues.
Are Dog Tooth Cleanings Safe?
Before undergoing anesthesia, your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam and blood test to ensure that your furry friend is healthy enough to undergo the procedure and help rule out the potential for problems.
Accordingly, dog teeth cleanings are usually safe, so long as you’re doing your due diligence and seeking out a reputable veterinarian.
For most pups, teeth cleanings are routine procedures. Most dogs go home on the same day, and recover within a couple of hours. One thing is for sure – regular teeth cleanings are much safer than the prospect of your dog developing painful periodontal disease. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian regarding specific concerns for your canine companion.
How You Know Your Dog Needs Professional Teeth Cleaning
How do you know when your dog needs his teeth professionally cleaned or need to have them examined by a professional?
Well, just like humans, dogs should have their teeth regularly examined by a vet every 6 to 12 months. Regular teeth check-ups and routine cleanings can help prevent your dog from requiring more serious teeth cleanings in the future.
But in addition to bringing your dog in for a routine cleaning once or twice a year, you should take your dog to have his teeth examined immediately if he displays any of the following:
- Severe bad breath
- Tartar buildup
- Abnormal drooling
- Broken or loose teeth
- Hesitance to eat
- Swollen or red gums
- Pawing or rubbing mouth
Pay Attention to Prevention: Things to Do Between Dog Dental Cleanings
The best way to avoid a costly teeth cleaning bill at the vet’s office is to practice prevention and stay on top of your dog’s oral hygiene from the get-go. Essentially, this means doing the following:
- Taking your dog in for regular vet visits. Visit the vet regularly for light, non-sedated teeth cleanings (which are also much cheaper than more serious cleanings).
- Brushing your dog’s teeth. Make sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly with a dog-friendly toothbrush and canine toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog — many types have ingredients that can sicken your pooch.
- Giving your dog dental treats. Dental bones and treats such as the popular Greenies brand can help keep your dog’s breath fresh while cleaning your dog’s teeth. Also, consider picking up some dog toys with teeth-cleaning nubs that will scrape against your dog’s teeth to help keep plaque at bay. We’ve got our own list of the best dog dental chews worth checking out which can clean a dog’s teeth while they chomp!
Low-Cost Dog Teeth Cleaning Options
The high cost of doggie dental work can trigger a bit of anxiety in some owners. Unfortunately, there aren’t any super-effective ways to shave down these costs.
However, there are definitely a few strategies that are worth investigating further.
Most pet insurance plans will not cover routine dental cleanings.
However, new companies and policies are created all the time, and you may get lucky and find one that covers a portion of these costs. So, go ahead and call around a bit – it can’t hurt to try.
It is also worth noting that most common pet insurance plans will cover dental injuries. This could come in handy if your dog breaks a tooth or suffers some other type of mouth-related injury, as these procedures will likely come with big bills.
From time to time, veterinarians and veterinary dentists may participate in discount programs. These typically work by requiring you to purchase a discount card, which gives you access to reduce-fee veterinary services. Some plans may cover dental work, while others may not, so you’ll just have to analyze the benefits provided and make a decision.
It can be tricky to track down these types of programs and they aren’t available in all areas, so you may need to do some sleuthing.
PetAssure is one such veterinary discount program, and seems to be one of the most popular program like this, but coverage may vary depending on where you live.
If you’re having a tough time finding an applicable veterinary discount program, also make sure to inquire with your vet, friends at the dog park, your groomer, and anyone else involved in the world of pets. Leave no stone unturned!
Beg / Borrow / Barter
If nothing else, you can always level with your vet and explain that you’re having trouble affording the procedure. Some vets will bend over backward to work with you, and they may be willing to let you pay over time or reduce your bill outright.
You may even find that your vet is willing to barter – particularly if you are dealing with a locally owned, mom-and-pop type of vet.
Perhaps you could offer accounting services in exchange for discounted dental care. Or maybe you are an IT professional who could help improve their computer system. Just think about the skills you bring to the table and start brainstorming.
Of course, some vets will remain firm on their pricing, be uninterested in any trades, and require payment in advance. This is certainly understandable – vets have bills to pay too! So, you should always be polite and respectful when approaching your vet about discount dental care for your pup.
But that brings us to our final point:
Final Word of Advice: Call Around
Many owners are shocked by ow much dog teeth cleaning costs can vary between different clinics and different cities. So, make sure to do your due diligence and call different vet offices to compare prices.
Heck, you may even want to consider calling vet offices outside of your area and, if the prices are significantly less, it may make good financial sense to travel a bit.
What had your experience been with getting your dog’s teeth cleaned? How much was your appointment? Share your experience in the comments!