Dogs become more than just a pet – they’re another member of your family. You worry about their health, and you take every precaution to ensure their nutritional and emotional needs are being met. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it isn’t cheap either. The cost of their food, veterinary visits, toys, and gear all adds up.
Although you may not want any more expenses added to that list, professional dental care is a key component of a dog’s health. Many dog owners don’t realize just how important professional dental cleanings are.
What Happens in a Professional Dental Cleaning?
If you’ve never taken a dog to a professional dental cleaning, it may be a bit of a mystery to you. What do they do there?
It’s a lot like having your teeth cleaned – the veterinarian will remove the tartar and plaque off your dog’s teeth, take any necessary x-rays, and apply a sealer or fluoride. The vet will also look at your dog’s lips, teeth, gums, and tongue to see if there are any concerns.
There is one big difference though between your teeth cleanings and your dog’s. Your dog must be under general anesthesia during the procedure. That can be a concern to pet owners, but being under while this happens will prevent any pain your dog would feel. It will also allow the pet patient to be still so the vet can do their work.
Ideally, you’ll take your dog in for a professional dental cleaning every six months or every year, depending upon what your vet recommends.
Signs that you should schedule a dental cleaning for your dog include bleeding or red gums, foul breath, more than normal drooling, problems chewing, and teeth that are loose or falling out.
How Important Is Dental Cleaning for Your Pet?
Professional dental cleanings prevent more than just smelling that bad dog breath as they try to lick your face – although it will help with that too.
It also keeps your dog’s mouth pain-free, prevents their teeth from falling out, and wards off dental disease, which can be quite severe even by the time a dog is 3 years old. Another compelling reason to schedule these cleanings is they will protect your pet’s organs. Plaque contains bacteria, and if it reaches the bloodstream, it can cause damage to organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart.
Keep in mind that some dog breeds are more prone to periodontal disease, such as poodles and smaller terriers. It’s a good idea to be extremely proactive about dental care when you have a higher-risk pet – they may need more frequent cleanings.
How to Deal with the Cost of Dental Care
Even if you understand the reasons you should spring for those annual dental cleanings for your dog, you might still be worried about the cost. That’s understandable because the procedure can be expensive because of the anesthesia and potential x-rays.
It can range from $500 to $3,000, depending upon what services are needed, such as having a tooth extraction. If your dog needs a root canal, you could be looking at even higher costs.
As with many costs, those who live in rural areas will often pay less for the procedure than those in big cities will. Many veterinarians accept payment plans because the expense is so great. Another option to help you pay for it is getting pet insurance – some plans will cover all or part of the costs involved while others won’t. You should be a smart shopper and seek several bids for pet insurance before picking a plan.
How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean
In addition to scheduling regular professional cleanings, there are some ways pet owners can keep their pet’s teeth in tip-top shape. You can:
- Brush your dog’s teeth with a canine toothbrush and appealing toothpaste flavors for pets.
- Giving your dog food that’s better for their teeth, such as dry dog food instead of ones that are wet or moist.
- Giving them a dental dog chew that cuts down on tartar and plaque.
Make Your Dog’s Teeth a Priority
The cost can be enough to make you grit your teeth, but a professional dental cleaning is a great thing for your pet’s choppers. Walking into it with a realistic idea as to what the cost might be will help you plan better for the dental cleaning, especially if you don’t have pet insurance that covers the expense. If you want to obtain pet insurance for future expenses, check out our picks for the best companies to find an option that works for you and your furry friend.
Andy Kearns is a Content Analyst for LendEDU and works to produce personal finance content to help educate consumers across the globe. When he’s not writing, you can find Andy cheering on the new and improved Lakers, or somewhere on a beach.