Although nobody likes to go to the dentist, oral health is important. Just like humans, dogs need to clean their teeth too. We brush our teeth at least twice a day, but sometimes people forget that they should also brush their dog’s teeth. If too much plaque and tartar build up, your dog may have to go to the vet for a teeth cleaning.
Brushing your dog’s teeth
The best way to prevent a trip to the vet to clean your dog’s teeth is to brush their teeth yourself. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 80 percent of dogs show signs of oral disease by age 3. It’s important to brush your dog’s teeth for the benefit of your dog’s teeth (and your wallet!).
Never use human toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth. Many of them contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Even if the ingredients list does not include xylitol, it is better to use a product made for dogs.
Before you begin brushing, touch the teeth and gums without the brush. Ideally, your dog should be comfortable with having their mouth handled. Then, touch the toothbrush (without toothpaste) to your dog’s teeth. If your dog tolerates this step, give them a treat or a reward.
Introduce the toothpaste to your dog by letting them lick it off of your finger. If your dog accepts the toothpaste, add it to the toothbrush and begin brushing gently. Start with the top teeth and then move to the side and back, making sure to give your dog praise. Repeat this step with the bottom teeth.
When you are done, reward your dog with a treat or a dog chew so that they have a positive association with brushing their teeth.
When you can’t brush your dog’s teeth
Most dogs dislike getting their teeth brushed, but sometimes it is impossible to have your dog sit still or touch their mouths. If this is the case, there are other ways to clean their teeth.
Certain dog chews, such as bully sticks, antlers, and trachea, scrape the plaque off of teeth as your dog gnaws and bites the treat. This can prevent plaque and tartar buildup for a healthier mouth.
If your dog has bad breath, discolored teeth, abnormal chewing, or pain in their mouths, you should visit a dentist for an oral checkup.
Getting your dog’s teeth cleaned
Teeth cleanings at the vet are a normal procedure, but they can be expensive. The price of teeth cleanings varies depends on your location, dog breed, age, if they require anesthesia, and more.
According to HomeGuide, an anesthesia-free cleaning will range from $100 to $300. Location, veterinary office, size and age of the dog, bloodwork, extractions, medications, and aftercare will all affect the price, so do some research or ask your vet for an estimation.
An anesthesia-free dental cleaning requires virtually no downtime so the dog can go home once the procedure is finished. Typically, no aftercare is required.
Some dogs are extremely nervous and require sedation for the procedure. This will increase the cost. Anesthesia-based cleanings can range from $500 to $1,000. Not only is the anesthesia a factor in the increased price, but this type of cleaning is the most thorough. It provides a deeper cleaning that goes below the gum line and beyond the surface of the teeth themselves. X-rays are sometimes necessary and will also contribute to the price of your dog’s cleaning as well if any extractions or root canals are involved.
What is included in an anesthesia teeth cleaning?
Most dental cleaning services will include the following:
- Full oral examination
- Digital X-rays
- Oral radiography
- IV fluids
- Oxygen and EKG monitoring
- Dental probing, scaling, polishing, and charting
- Before and after photos
- Before and after care, potentially overnight
How often do dogs require teeth cleaning?
Veterinarians recommend a professional dental cleaning once or twice a year, depending on your dog’s needs. Consistent daily brushing and dog chews can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, which can make for a cheaper visit to the vet. Your pet’s dental hygiene is an important factor in keeping them happy and healthy.