Sunday, July 28, 2013

Should My Dog’s Teeth Be Professionally Cleaned?

Ten years ago while we were about to become a dog owner for the first time a friend was contemplating whether she should have her 11-year old dog’s teeth professionally cleaned. The procedure would cost $250. Professionally cleaning a dog’s teeth! I had never heard of such a thing. My friend not wanting to subject her older dog to the anesthesia decided to forego the procedure.

I faced a similar decision a couple of weeks ago when my husband returned from taking Teddy our eight-year old yellow Labrador retriever to the vet.

Our vet who had been keeping an eye on Teddy’s teeth for some time now recommended we have his teeth professionally cleaned. Teddy had developed a mild form of gingivitis. His teeth which had begun showing signs of plaque when he was only two year old were now brown and his gums were red and swollen. We received a quote of $412 without x-rays, $599 with for this procedure. The x-rays were needed to determine if any teeth needed to be extracted. The cost of teeth extraction was extra. $600!!! The cost of teeth cleaning had gone up quite a bit in ten years.  

We looked at Teddy’s teeth ourselves:

and decided to go ahead with the procedure. Our vet thought Teddy may be in pain – we had noticed there were times when Teddy ate slower and more tentatively than usual. In addition, not having them cleaned now could lead to other health problems later on. The bacteria from gingivitis could travel through Teddy’s bloodstream contributing to heart, kidney or liver disease. His teeth would also continue to deteriorate which could lead to infection, teeth loss and difficulty eating.

His x-ray’s detected one bad tooth that had to be extracted. The upper right 12 incisor was fractured and its pulp was exposed. Not removing it could lead to an abysses tooth and damage to the teeth surrounding it.

The cost of the procedure included pre-anesthetic blood work. These tests checked Teddy’s blood sugar, kidney values, and red blood cell count. They were to detect abnormalities that could affect anesthesia. He also received intravenous fluids during anesthesia. These were given to combat a decrease in blood pressure which sometimes results from the anesthesia drugs. In addition, an intravenous catheter allows immediate administration of emergency drugs if there is an adverse reaction from the anesthesia.    

Here is the break down of costs for Teddy’s professional teeth cleaning including tooth extraction:
........ ........ ........
Anesthesia and IV Catheter43.70
Pain Injection (2)48.40
Surgical Monitor30.20
Scale and Polish Teeth81.70
Fluoride Treatment23.00
Day-Care Kennel Use20.60
Cefazolin (Antibiotic)21.00
IV Fluids During Surgery21.60
Radio graph Dental Full Mouth130.00
CHEM/CBC/UA In-House0.00
Chem Panel w/Electrolytes72.82
CBC (Complete Blood Count)49.30
Nerve Block(s)18.50
Rimadyl 100mg Chewable (4)18.20
Non-Surgical Tooth Extraction35.00
Teddy did very well at the clinic and other than a couple of hours of whimpering at home (which resulted in lots of pets and belly rubs) he had a speedy recovery. Here is a photo of his clean pearly whites.

We are to begin Brushing Teddy’s teeth in 2 weeks. For best results, we should brush them 3-4 times a week.

Buck our ten-year old golden retriever has never had his teeth professionally cleaned. He hasn’t needed it. We’ve always brushed both our dog’s teeth once a week. Buck does chew on sticks more often and has a morning routine that includes chewing on his Galileo bone which may have helped prevent tartar buildup.

In hindsight, I should have paid more attention when my friend was contemplating whether or not to have her dog’s teeth cleaned. Dogs are expensive, much more expensive than I ever could have imagined before owning one. Though I do think our vet is on the high side and some of the above services may not have been necessary, i.e. a charge for day-care kennel use I do want my dogs to be healthy and receive good veterinary care.

Have you ever had your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned? Are there any home remedies you practice to keep your dog’s teeth clean? What about the cost of Teddy’s professional cleaning? Was $600 for this procedure low, about average or kind of high?


  1. Ms. Savvy,

    If you can afford to although I havent read your post I would consider getting my Dog's Teeth cleaned.
    I didn't think about with my dog til she lost a few.
    Have a good.
    God Bless, Peace, Love and Knowledge!
    Floyd clifton Wooley

  2. Our dogs are on a raw diet - their teeth are pearly white and gorgeous. Our cats refused to switch so they're teeth have trouble so we use a topic treatment to break up the plaque, but I'm going to switch to something new soon.

  3. We haven't done the professional cleaning yet but we do brush often and make sure we keep an eye out for mouth pain in all our dogs. Thanks for the info, though. We have 4 dogs so this could be a very expensive issue in the future!

  4. Three dogs over 20 years - never cleaned. We occasionally tried to brush.

    Interesting that $104 was the actual cleaning!

    You do what you feel like you need to do.

  5. Floyd,
    Thanks for the comment. Sorry to hear about your dog.

  6. Kimberly,
    Another reason to switch to a raw diet. Our vet has never recommended a topical treatment. Let me know what you discover.

  7. Ali Sue,
    Thanks for the comment. Four dogs sounds expensive and a lot of work. I bet it is rewarding though.

  8. Webb,
    Interesting point that $104 is for the actual cleaning. That is more in-line with the prices I've seen here on the net. Its all the extras they've sold us on the keep Teddy safe and comfortable.

  9. We have never had our dog's teeth cleaned. And, honestly, I wouldn't spend that kind of money. He's old and not in great health. At this point, we're just trying to keep him comfortable for as long as he lasts.

    It does look like the cleaning did its job. I guess only you can decide if it was worth it. I hope your dog is healthy for a long time to come.

    Happy Sharefest. Have a lovely weekend.

  10. We have a 7 year old Yorkie, and our vet has recommended that she have her teeth cleaned. We are planning to do it, but we're nervous, because of the anesthetic. She has had a mild infection from her teeth though, so I guess the time has come. Yorkies are prone to teeth problems. Thanks for this post. Stopped by from the SITS sharefest.

  11. Miss Robin,
    I hope so too.

  12. Pam,
    I think I read that in my research. A good portion of the expense for Teddy's cleaning was to make sure the anesthetic was safe. I guess if we are going to do it we better make sure it is done safely.

  13. I think this is a great breakdown and explanation of a teeth cleaning. I would have to say that the price for the services you received seems fairly average. I have performed many a teeth cleaning as a vet tech before. One of the clinics was on the high priced sides. I saw some dental procedures go upwards into the thousands of dollars. But those were usually ones that had lots of extractions and other work done.

  14. Thanks for your post, honestly, it helped me make my decision for Abbey.