When you’re adding up the costs of owning a dog, don’t forget to add dental care to the bill. While expensive, the cost of preventative care like a professional dog teeth cleaning will pay off in the future.

By Sierra Burgos
August 24, 2020
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Even with regular brushing, it’s recommended that every dog gets their teeth professionally cleaned once a year (or, every 6 months if they’re prone to dental issues). Because anesthesia is typically required for this procedure, the cost of a canine dental exam and cleaning can get pricey, it’d be wise to set aside at least a few hundred dollars a year for your pup’s pearly whites—maybe more.

Why is Teeth Cleaning for Dogs Recommended? 

Dental care is an important part of taking care of your pet. Katie E. Kling, veterinarian and clinical assistant professor at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine, says that having a dental procedure done for your dog is “One of the best preventative care steps you could take for your pet.” She adds that proper dental care can actually improve our pets’ quality of life.

Given the threat of periodontal disease—a common disease that affects dogs—it’s no wonder Kling and other veterinarians recommend regular teeth cleaning as part of your dog’s regular routine. If left untreated, the harmful bacteria caused by periodontal disease can travel from the teeth and gums into the bloodstream, causing serious health issues including damage to vital internal organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. And while it may be impossible to reverse periodontal disease, proper dental care can help prevent it from affecting your pup.

What’s Typically Included in a Cleaning?

You can expect a dog dental cleaning without any complications to take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. If complications do arise, like multiple tooth extractions or a root canal, it could take up to four hours for your dog’s procedure. A reputable dog dental cleaning service should include a physical exam by a veterinarian prior to the anesthesia to make sure your pup is healthy enough for the procedure. If they are, they’ll be intubated and administered the anesthesia.

Once the dog is under anesthesia, the vet will use a scaler to remove plaque and tartar on all sides of the teeth. Then, the dog’s mouth is rinsed and the teeth are polished to prevent any additional plaque buildup. The vet will also use dental probes to take measurements and check for periodontal disease during the procedure. Your pup may require additional care post-procedure, and your vet may advise feeding him softened food if his teeth are sensitive following the cleaning.

How Much Does a Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost?

Your dog’s dental care costs can vary depending on several factors. “A pet parent will receive an estimate of services that includes everything from an intravenous catheter, IV fluids, hospitalization, patient monitoring and recovery, possible pain medications or antibiotics, and at-home dental care items,” Adam Christman, DVM, says. “The price ranges [between] $450 and $1,000 for a routine dental cleaning.” Several factors that could affect the overall cost include:

Veterinary Practice. Your vet’s office may have set guidelines on how they bill you. While some bill by type of procedure, others bill by the time elapsed to complete a procedure. If it’s the former, a cleaning could cost a couple hundred dollars, but that also means that something more serious (like a tooth extraction) could cost thousands.

Location. In addition to the specific clinic, the actual region of the country could change the cost of canine dental care. LIke with most veterinary procedures, costs are typically higher in major metropolitan areas than they are in more rural regions or smaller cities.

Age. If your pup is going grey, it may cost you more to get certain dental procedures completed. Older dogs tend to need more prep work to evaluate their current capacity to handle anesthesia, meaning you could pay more for additional blood work.

Size. Many vets will divide up their pricing based off of size—the larger the dog, the more expensive. This is because a larger pup will likely need more anesthesia and medication.

Additional Costs to Consider

If your dog needs more than just a simple cleaning, there will be added costs. Tooth extraction, for example, can jack up your total bill. “[Cost] depends on the location and severity. If it’s a three rooted upper 4th premolar that requires sutures in the mouth, you’re looking [at] around $400 per tooth by a general practitioner,” Christman says. “It can range from $2,500-$5,000 depending on the number of extractions.”

These price tags sound overwhelming, but here’s the reality: your dog’s dental care is no joke. Prevention is the name of the game—brush their teeth almost as often as you brush yours. Keep dental bones on hand for your pup to chew on, and don’t miss out on vet visits. The best way to score a low dental bill is to practice prevention.