The Cost to Clean Dogs’ Teeth: How It Adds up & How to Save

Three Minutes
Jul 08, 2022

If you’ve ever smelled your dog’s breath, you probably understand the importance of doggy dental health. But you might not know that dogs don’t clean their chompers simply by using them. Regular dental cleanings are just as important for your dog as they are for you. Otherwise, plaque and tartar buildup can lead to serious oral health issues.

Worried about the cost to clean dogs’ teeth? We’ve got tips to help you save money, as well as how to properly care for your dog’s mouth.

How Much Does It Cost To Clean Dogs’ Teeth?

Dog teeth cleaning costs can vary depending on where you live and the amount of work that needs to be done. Generally speaking, the average cost to clean a dog’s teeth is between $300 to $700.3 And that’s just for standard cleaning. If your dog requires additional work, like a tooth extraction, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars more.  

What goes into a standard cleaning

When you bring your pooch in for a routine tooth cleaning, you can expect the following to be included in the cost:

●      X-rays to examine the state of your dog’s jaw, mouth, and the roots of their teeth

●      A manual examination of their mouth to look for signs of periodontal disease or any other oral issues

●      Teeth polishing to give your dog a brighter smile

●      Anesthesia for the exam and cleaning to keep your pooch calm

That last bit is especially important. While it might be tempting to forgo anesthesia in order to save money, it’s a compromise you don’t want to make. Keeping your dog fully awake means they’ll experience a lot more stress and will make the exam and cleaning much harder to perform, which could cause the vet to miss something crucial. It also puts your dog at risk of injury if they were to struggle while tools are being used. That’s why the American Animal Hospital Association considers nonanesthetic dentistry to be unsafe and unethical.4 In fact, most vets won’t even offer it as an option unless your dog isn’t healthy enough to be anesthetized.

Why Your Dog Needs Dental Cleaning

Dogs, just like any other toothed animal, are vulnerable to plaque and tartar buildup over time. If left unaddressed, these can lead to the development of serious oral diseases.

One of the most common is periodontal disease. At its least destructive, periodontitis causes painful inflammation of your dog’s gums. In addition to causing pain, this can make it difficult for them to eat and might lead to unhealthy weight loss.

Periodontitis grows worse as it develops. The infection spreads into the tooth socket, destroying the roots and eventually the bone of the surrounding jaw.5 The tooth becomes loose and falls out, and at this point your dog may need surgery to remove infected portions of the alveolar bone.

Over 80% of dogs aged 3 years and older suffer from periodontitis.5 It can easily be prevented by starting routine dental care while your pooch is still a pup. That includes at-home cleanings as well as visits to the vet.

How To Clean Your Dog’s Teeth at Home  

At-home cleanings are not a substitute for routine cleanings performed by professional veterinarians. It is, however, an important part of maintaining good oral health for your dog.

Keeping your dog’s mouth clean involves more than just giving them orthodontic chew toys. You should also be brushing them multiple times a week. This can be tricky — most dogs don’t enjoy a stranger’s fingers in their mouth. Here are some tips to make it easier.

Start slow

Don’t try to jump straight into brushing all 42 of your dog’s teeth. You need to build up to it so that your pup has time to get used to the process. Begin by using your finger and some toothpaste to clean only the most accessible teeth. Do it for a minute or two each week. Gradually work up to more and more teeth, until your dog is comfortable enough to have their entire mouth cleaned.

Once they’ve gotten used to your finger, introduce a brush. Touch it to your dog’s teeth without scrubbing to get them comfortable with the tool. The end goal is to have your dog looking forward to toothbrush time multiple times per week. It will likely take time, so don’t get frustrated! Your remaining calm will help keep them calm.

Use flavored toothpaste

Dog toothpaste comes in multiple flavors that they’ll enjoy, such as peanut butter, poultry, or beef. Make sure you’re using toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Human toothpaste contains ingredients like xylitol that can be toxic to your pet. Look for enzymatic toothpastes formulated to target and destroy tartar. Other safe ingredients include baking soda, aloe, coconut oil, and grapefruit seeds.

Reward your dog with treats

Feeding dogs after you’ve cleaned their teeth might seem counterintuitive. But treats are the best way to make toothbrush time something your pup looks forward to. You can also use dental chews and dental toys. Not only do these make the process more fun for your dog, they also help keep your pooch’s mouth clean.

Consider alternatives

If you’re finding it too difficult to brush your dog’s teeth, there are alternate approaches. Dental wipes are much faster — simply rub them on your dog’s teeth to remove plaque. Flavored oral gels and rinses are also available. Look for the ingredient chlorhexidine to reduce plaque buildup.6

Talk to your vet

You should always consult your veterinarian before taking on at-home dental care. They can provide product recommendations, tips, and may even be able to coach you through the process. Ultimately, though, even the best oral care you can provide won’t be good enough to supplant professional cleanings. Routine care from your vet is the best way to give your dog a healthy, happy mouth!

How To Save on Dog Teeth Cleaning Costs

Regular cleanings can add up to a hefty expense. Being proactive can help cut down on the average cost to clean your dog’s teeth by reducing the likelihood of additional procedures. Apart from that, dog insurance is the best way to save. Accident and wellness plans will cover procedures related to oral diseases, so you’re not hit with an unexpected bill.2 With wellness and preventive add-ons, you can also be reimbursed for some of the cost of routine cleanings.2

Get started today with a free quote to find out how much a MetLife Pet Insurance policy could save you on doggy dental care.1

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MGIC”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MGIC’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MGIC to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota),

2Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

3”Getting a Professional Teeth Cleaning for Your Dog,” The Spruce Pets

4”Should My Pet Be Anesthetized for Dental Care?,” American Animal Hospital Association

5”Dental Disease in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospital

6”The Pros and Cons of Scrubbing With Betadine, Chlorhexidine,” Veterinary Practice News