Your dog’s bad breath can clear a room. But you decide to neglect it since the cost of dog teeth cleaning by your vet seems expensive. After all, it costs a fraction of that to get your own teeth sorted so why does dog teeth cleaning cost so much more?
Don’t let the cost of dog teeth cleaning bite you in the butt!
Understand how and why those charges arise so you can make an informed decision about the best care for your dog’s dental health. You may end up thinking that it represents good value after all.
Good dental health is not only crucial to keep your pet’s mouth pain free but also for their general health. Of course its human nature to hesitate when faced with a large invoice. And things become more confusing when the only thing you understand is the large figure at the bottom of the invoice.
But never get confused again. This article will give you peace of mind and make you smile by demystifying dog teeth cleaning cost.
1. Pre-anesthetic Screening
The vast majority of dental attention takes place under general anesthesia, for reasons outlined here. Whilst dog plaque buildup and dental disease is common in all pets over two years of age (shocking isn’t it!) it’s often the seniors in greatest need of attention.
Would you drive a car with bad brakes?
No! You’d want the brakes fixed first right?
Similarly, in a dog that appears healthy, a basic blood panel is recommended no matter the animal’s age. However, for dogs aged seven or over, their organ function has already started to decline. So the pre-anesthetic blood tests are strongly advised to pick up ‘silent’ problems that could prove costly (in health terms).
For example, a dog that appears fine may have kidneys that are coping with life but at reduced efficiency. When that dog has an anesthetic their blood pressure drops, further reducing the kidneys’ ability to cope. This can make the difference between being healthy or stepping over into kidney failure.
Armed with this knowledge the vet can put the dog on intravenous fluids before, during, and after the anesthetic which supports the blood pressure across the kidneys and has the added benefit of flushing toxins from the system.
But guess what? That blood work and intravenous drip cost money. And if your dog is sick or needs teeth extracted, the vet may ask to perform additional tests such as a clotting screen, in which case the dog teeth cleaning cost rises.
On the invoice you may find these items listed in ‘English’ as ‘Blood panels’ or they may appear in a gobbledygook code such as ‘SA1’. And if you’re unsure, ask the vet to explain so that you fully understand to cost of dog teeth cleaning.
This is a big difference between human and canine dentistry. You co-operate with the dentist like an angel by opening your mouth on cue and sitting still for the procedure. However a dog faced with a drill is most likely to bite first and run second. That doesn’t do anyone any favors, least of all the dog that would be traumatized for life if forcibly held down. Not something your vet would ever do!
To do a good job the vet needs to look deep inside that mouth, probe pockets in the gums, and take dental x-rays. (Ha! Bet your dog would love to chew on a dental film.) And then there’s the noise of the dental drill and that irritating squirty water.
Nope, the only realistic way to do a proper job is under anesthesia.
Unfortunately anesthesia is expensive and contributes significantly to the cost of cleaning dog’s teeth.
Reasons anesthesia is necessary:
- So the dog isn’t stressed.
- To inspect all parts of the dog’s mouth.
- Measure gingival pockets.
- For taking steady dental x-rays.
- Ultrasonic descalers and drills are noisy and wet!
- Because extractions are painful.
- The safety of veterinary staff performing the procedure.
Just as the waistline influences the pant size, a dog’s weight alters how much anesthetic they need.
And modern, highly sophisticated anesthetic agents are expensive. So the more the dog uses, the greater the dog teeth cleaning cost. Therefore a Great Dane costs a whole lot more to anesthetize than a Yorkie. So it’s only fair to price each dog individually according to the amount of anesthetic used. Which means the dog teeth cleaning cost varies depending on the dog’s size.
3. The Severity of the Problem or “The Tip of the Iceberg”
Have you ever been for a dental checkup only to be told you need root canal treatment? What should have been a straightforward inexpensive visit suddenly takes on a financial life of its own.
The vet can only perform a detailed examination when your dog is sedated. There is a distinct chance a previously hidden problem will come to light. If the vet discovers decay below the gum line or a wobbly tooth, it would be irresponsible to ignore it. But ultimately, this impacts the dog teeth cleaning cost.
The vet may then suggest additional work, such as dental x-rays, to fully assess which treatment is best. These costs might not be predictable initially, in which case the vet will phone to discuss the additional costs.
And you’d be surprised how long a dental descale takes. A descale is a delicate and time consuming process where the tartar deposits are gently removed whilst preserving the enamel smooth surface without scratching it. Then the whole procedure is finished off with a polish.
A simple, straightforward descale takes a minimum of 20 minutes, with more complex ones being proportionately longer.
4. Numbers and Types of Teeth Extracted
The anatomy of a dog’s teeth is not the same as ours.
A dog’s teeth are designed for gripping and piercing prey, for crushing bone and ripping through muscle. In order to do this effectively those teeth have to be anchored like King Arthur’s sword in the proverbial stone. For the fangs this means having very long roots. Whilst those crushing molars have three roots that angle towards each other making it especially hard to remove them.
Now think about doing this procedure several times with several rotten teeth and you begin to understand why dental procedures on dogs are so time consuming. What appears expensive is actually a reflection of the time, complexity, and skill needed, and in real terms the cost of dog’s teeth cleaning represents good value.
5. Pain Relief, Antibiotics, and Ongoing Care
For a simple descale your dog may go home with just a toothbrush and paste. But if inflamed gums (gingivitis) or infected tooth roots were present the vet may prescribe pet antibiotics. Indeed, as anyone who’s had dental extractions knows, the mouth is sore afterwards and so most vets send these patients home with pain relief.
Medications will be itemized and listed on the invoice. It’s also highly likely the dog had a pain-relieving injection prior to the procedure. So don’t be surprised to see the same drug listed twice; once as an injection and again as an oral form to give at home.
All this has an impact on the dog teething cleaning cost.
And Finally… Discuss the Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost Beforehand
To avoid unpleasant surprises always ask your veterinarian for an estimate first. This gives a detailed breakdown of the costs involved. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to talk you through the items on the estimate. Good vet clinics value the opportunity to explain procedures in more detail and explain the variables.
Once you have consented and the dog is under anesthetic, if the vet finds something unexpected they will call to discuss a new plan and the cost implications. This is also where you can help, by providing a contact number were you can always be reached.
Whilst it might be tempting to think of dog dental care as optional, in reality its essential so your pet avoids the misery of toothache. Yes, the cost of cleaning dog’s teeth is higher than yours, but remember the anatomy of dogs’ teeth is different. Dogs don’t brush twice a day, and you don’t bite the dentist!