Pet Dental Insurance: Is It Covered?

Three Minutes
Jul 20, 2022

By the time they’re 3 years old, 85% of pets will have dental disease.3

If you’ve been a pet owner for a while, you probably know how expensive (and easily overlooked) dental care can be for cats and dogs. A trip to the veterinarian for a dental cleaning can be $1,000 or more if tooth extractions are needed.4 There’s no wonder why owners consider pet dental insurance for their fur babies.

Pet insurance that covers dental can be a great way to ensure your cat or dog gets the care they need without worrying about the bill. Pet dental insurance can be a little complicated though, so keep reading to understand how it works, what it covers, and why it’s important.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dental?

Medical pet insurance policies do not ordinarily include coverage for routine dental care, and standalone dental insurance plans are very rare.

What a typical pet insurance policy may cover, however, are dental issues related to accidents, emergencies, or disease. Some pet insurance companies offer optional add-on coverage — like a wellness plan — that may cover routine dental procedures as preventative care.

With a MetLife1 pet insurance plan, you may be reimbursed for dental issues resulting from accidental illness and disease.2

Periodontal disease coverage

Periodontal disease is an infection and inflammation in your pet’s gums and other tissues that surround and support your pet's teeth. The most common forms of gum disease in pets are gingivitis and periodontitis.5 Treating periodontal disease typically includes plaque removal and, in the most severe cases, surgery.

MetLife Pet Insurance may reimburse costs related to diagnosing and treating periodontal disease if the issue is not a preexisting condition or policy exclusion.2  

Dental injury coverage

Fractured teeth are the most common dental injuries seen in pets. Fractured teeth in dogs most often happen from external trauma and chewing on hard objects like bones.6 Broken teeth in cats mostly occur from high falls, car accidents, and chewing on hard objects.7 Treating dental injuries can include root canal therapy and extraction.

If it’s a result of an accident, treatment for a fractured tooth may be covered by a MetLife pet insurance policy.2

Dental cleaning and tooth extraction coverage

Pet insurance that covers dental cleaning is rare, as cleanings are typically not covered by standalone policies. Tooth extractions are also rarely covered.

MetLife Pet Insurance does not provide coverage for dental cleanings or tooth extractions recommended after a routine dental exam.

What Does Pet Dental Insurance Cover?

Pet dental insurance coverage depends on the individual policy. Coverage may be accident-only or accident and illness. Like we mentioned before, some pet dental coverage is offered through wellness plans that add routine care into traditional coverage.

Sometimes it’s easier to understand what’s not covered under pet dental insurance. Common exclusions include:

●      Routine dental care

●      Cosmetic procedures

●      Orthodontic services

●      Preexisting conditions

A pet parent holds a fingertip toothbrush up to their gray and white cat.

Why Is Dental Care Important for Your Pet?

Just like your own dental health, your pet’s dental health is essential to a long and happy life. Poor dental health can lead to dental disease that is linked to other systemic issues like heart, liver, and kidney disease.8

Proper dental care for your pet is especially important if you’re considering dog insurance or cat insurance. Many of the issues dental disease leads to could be considered a pre-existing condition.

Dental issues in dogs

Common dental problems that affect dogs include:9

●      Gingivitis

●      Periodontitis

●      Unerupted teeth

●      Cavities

Dental issues in cats

Common dental problems that affect cats include:10

●      Gingivitis

●      Periodontitis

●      Stomatitis syndrome

●      Tooth resorption

Symptoms of dental issues and disease

Signs of a dental problem in pets can include:3

●      Bad breath

●      Discolored teeth and gums

●      Problems chewing

●      Excessive drooling

●      Swelling

How Can You Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Clean?

To help prevent and detect issues, pets should receive a professional dental exam and cleaning — aka a comprehensive oral health assessment — once a year. The American Veterinary Dental College and American Veterinary Medical Association recommend that all dental exams and cleanings be administered under general anesthesia by a licensed vet.11, 12

In between cleanings, the best way to keep your fur baby’s dental health in good condition is to practice regular brushing at home. Make sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste approved by your vet.

There are a number of products like treats, rinses, and wipes that claim to help clean your pet’s teeth, but many are ineffective. Talk with your vet for their recommendations and check the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s list of accepted products before you buy.

Pet Insurance Savings Could Still Help

Even though routine dental care isn’t typically covered, you can still find savings with pet insurance in other ways. A pet insurance policy can help you save hundreds of dollars in care that could help offset costs for other routine vet expenses, like dental cleanings. 

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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.

1 Pet 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 (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen 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), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided 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.

3 “Pet Dental Insurance 101,” PetMD

4 “How Much Does a Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost?,” PetMD

5 “Periodontal Disease in Small Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual

6 “Fractured Teeth in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

7 “Fractured Teeth in Cats,” VCA Animal Hospitals

8 “Dental Disease and its Relation to Systemic Disease in Pets,” VCA Animal Hospital

9 “Dental Disorders of Dogs,” Merck Veterinary Manual

10 “Dental Disorders of Cats,” Merck Veterinary Manual

11 “Companion Animal Dental Scaling Without Anesthesia,” American Veterinary Dental College

12 “Pet dental care,” American Veterinary Medical Association