So your dog needs a teeth cleaning – but how much will it cost?
Generally speaking, for a basic teeth cleaning process for a young, healthy dog, you can expect to pay $200-$300.
However, the truth is that dog teeth cleaning costs vary 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!
Elements That Affect Cost of Dog Teeth Cleaning
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 cost of your dog’s tooth cleaning include:
As noted, the price tag of a dog’s teeth cleaning varies greatly between vet clinics and different regions of the country.
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 or she can handle the anesthesia. This can cost an extra $100 or more.
Many vets charge differently for pet dental cleaning based on the size of your dog, since larger dogs need more medication and anesthesia.
Your dog may require intravenous fluids during the procedure, which can also add to costs.
In some cases of severe dental issues, your dog may need a tooth extraction (or several). Extractions can range from $50-$100 or more depending on the number of teeth that need to be removed and where the teeth are located (larger molar teeth will likely cost more).
Some vet offices require a pre-dental exam, which can add an extra $50 or so to the process. Sometimes this is only done if they haven’t seen our dog before.
Getting x-rays done will also add to the cost of your dog’s dental cleaning. However, they are often essential for deep cleaning procedures and to make sure that your dog’s teeth don’t have any serious oral 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 or perform a number of other relatively simple procedures, such as tooth extractions or root canals. This is probably the best option, 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. Veterinary dog dentists are therefore the better choice for any type of complicated or difficult procedure.
You could also visit another vet if you want to shop around and find the lowest rates, or if your vet doesn’t provide dental services.
What About Anesthesia-Free Tooth 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 gumline, which would be quite painful to a non-sedated pup.
Nevertheless, some veterinarians and veterinary dentists offer anesthesia-free, light cleanings.
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 these procedures do not treat the areas below the gumline, 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 deep-cleaning will generally be the preferred option.
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.
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 6-12 months. Regular teeth check-ups and teeth cleanings can help prevent your dog from undergoing more serious, sedation teeth cleanings in the future.
You should take your dog to have his teeth examined immediately if he displays:
- Severe bad breath
- Tarar buildup
- Abnormal drooling
- Broken or loose teeth
- Hesitance to eat
- Swollen or red gums
- Pawing or rubbing mouth
Pay Attention to Prevention
The best way to avoid a costly teeth cleaning bill at the vet’s office is to practice prevention.
- Regular Vet Visits. Visit the vet regularly for light, non-sedation teeth cleanings (which are also much cheaper than more serious cleanings).
- Brush Your Dog’s Teeth. Make sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly with a dog-friendly toothbrush and canine toothpaste.
- Give Your Dog Dental Bones. Dental bones such as the popular Greenies brand can help keep your dog’s breath fresh while cleaning your dog’s teeth. Also be on the lookout for dog toys for teeth-cleaning nubs, elk antler chews, or any other kind of chew 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, 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’ll often 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
In our research, we were quite shocked at how much dog teeth cleaning costs can vary between different clinics and different cities. 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, turn the trip into a mini-getaway!
And as an added bonus tip, when you do sedation teeth cleanings, ask your vet to clip your dog’s nails while they are under!
What had your experience been with getting your dog’s teeth cleaned? How much was your appointment? Share your experience in the comments!