Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Vet brushing a dog‘s teeth

The essentials

  • Several factors determine the cost of a dog’s dental cleaning — Your dog’s age, size, and pre-existing health conditions are all taken into consideration.
  • Dental cleaning costs vary by practitioner — A general practitioner will charge $500-$1,000 on average, while a veterinary dental specialist can cost upwards of $2,000.
  • At-home preventative care can reduce dental cleaning costs — Routine teeth brushing and dental water additives can help prevent the need for costly extractions and root canals.

Dental care is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of owning a dog, even though it’s just as important for our furry friends as it is for us. Our best friends can be difficult when it comes to teeth brushing, to the point that many dog parents opt to not bother with the practice at all.

If you fall into this category, you will likely find your pup in need of professional teeth cleaning to prevent dental problems like gingivitis and periodontal disease, as well as other health conditions — like heart disease and kidney disease.

By now, you’re probably wondering: How much is that going to set you back?

The average cost of a dog’s teeth cleaning

As with all veterinary care, professional teeth cleaning can be expensive. While some clinics may offer teeth cleanings without anesthesia for as low as $100 to $300, this is considered an unsafe and ineffective method by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) . When put under anesthesia, the vet will be able to remove more tartar and plaque buildup, as well as avoid distressing your dog with an anxiety-inducing dental procedure.

Based on first-hand research with our team of veterinary experts, the average cost of a canine dental cleaning with anesthesia ranges from $500-$1,000 with a general practitioner. Of course, there are additional costs that may be added to your bill depending on a variety of factors.

Factors that impact the cost of a dental cleaning

When talking to fellow dog owners, you may be surprised to find them paying different rates than you do for the same canine dental care. This is because each dog is unique, and the cost to care for your pup will differ from care for another one based on several considerations.

Here is what your veterinarian will take into account when determining the price of your dog’s dental cleaning:

  • Age. The cost of canine dental cleanings can vary based on age. For example, senior dogs may require more blood work ahead of time to determine their ability to handle the procedure.
  • Weight. The size of your dog will be factored into the calculations that determine how much anesthesia your canine companion needs. This is why performing dental cleanings on larger dogs tends to cost more than smaller breeds.
  • Pre-existing conditions. Your vet will also need to take into consideration any underlying medical issues facing your dog to determine the cost of their dental cleaning, as they may require additional monitoring.
  • Procedure. The cost of a canine dental cleaning can go up depending on what kind of procedures are deemed necessary. Just removing plaque won’t be as expensive as something like an extraction ($100-$400 per tooth), x-ray imaging ($75-$500), or a root canal ($1,500-$3,000).
  • Practitioner. While the $500-$1,000 mentioned above is the average cost for general practitioners, a veterinary dental specialist could be as high as $2,000. These specialists may be recommended by your vet if your pooch is experiencing more severe dental issues, like gum disease or oral cancer.

👉 Some dental problems may not be evident to your veterinarian until the dental cleaning is underway, which can lead to more surprise costs than what you were quoted going into the procedure.

Does pet insurance cover the cost of a dental cleaning?

With such high rates associated with canine dental cleanings, you’re probably wondering if having pet insurance will help offset these costs. This depends largely on what kind of plan you’ve enrolled in.

For the most part, dental cleanings are considered preventative care, and most insurance plans are geared toward accidents and illnesses. That said, many providers offer wellness plans as an additional add-on to their accident and/or illness coverage, which does cover some preventative care.

How to save money on the cost of a dental cleaning

The best way to save money on canine dental cleanings is to take preventative steps to make the cleanings less expensive. While this doesn’t rule out the need for professional dental care, you can avoid the need for extractions, root canals, and other expensive additional procedures with routine at-home oral care. Once you get in the habit, these small tasks will pay dividends over time.

Brush your dog’s teeth properly

To keep teeth and gums healthy, dog owners should aim to brush their pup’s teeth once a day, 3 to 4 times per week. Be sure to only use a vet-approved canine toothpaste because the fluoride in the toothpaste we humans use is toxic to dogs.

You’ll want to ease into the process by at first introducing your dog to the toothpaste with a dab on your finger or toy. If they lick it off, put a little more on your finger or vet-approved toothbrush and slowly massage their teeth and gums.

If they get agitated, start over, as forcing your dog into it will only give them a negative connotation with the practice. After you’ve successfully brushed their teeth, you can reward them with praise or a treat!

Give your dog a vet-approved dental product

You can also reduce tartar buildup and help freshen your dog’s bad breath with vet-approved dental products. Before you purchase oral care products for pets, make sure it has a Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal on the packaging. Here is a list of the approved products .

Dental chews have ridges designed for reaching difficult-to-clean areas of your pup’s mouth. They come in a variety of flavors like chicken, beef, bacon, and cheese. Some vets may also recommend mixing dental water additives into their water, which essentially serves as a mouthwash for dogs to curb tooth decay.

Is it necessary to get your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned?

Vets recommend dogs have their teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year regardless of their oral health. It can help catch and treat dental disease in the early stages, which is better for your dog and your bank account.

Tartar buildup can lead to problems such as gingivitis, gum recession, tooth root exposure and infection, and abscesses. Routine dental cleanings allow us to remove tartar buildup and identify and treat any issues.

Dr. Jennifer Schott

Some dog breeds, like greyhounds, and smaller dogs like Yorkies and pugs, have an increased risk for tartar formation, gum recession, and eventual loss of teeth. In these cases, more frequent cleanings may be required. Older dogs also typically require professional dental care more frequently than their younger counterparts.

What’s included in a dog's professional dental cleaning?

Similar to human dentistry, a dog’s dental cleaning is thorough and designed to prevent problems in the future, like periodontal disease . Unlike human dentistry, most of the cleaning is done under anesthesia for the safety and well-being of the dog.

Here are the six steps typically performed during a canine dental cleaning:

  1. Conscious oral evaluation — Before your dog is put under anesthesia, your vet will examine their teeth and gums while they are awake. Here they can look for plaque, cavities, and any oral trauma.
  2. Anesthesia — General anesthesia is required for a full examination and cleaning. Only a limited oral exam and tartar removal above the gumline are possible without anesthesia. When your dog is put under, the veterinary team will monitor them throughout the procedure to ensure their vital signs stay stable and that they’re comfortable.
  3. Intraoral radiography — Once under anesthesia, x-rays are taken to evaluate the structure of the jaw and the roots below the gumline, as well as the surrounding tissue.
  4. Teeth scaling — With the help of an ultrasonic scaler, the vet will clean your dog’s teeth by removing the plaque on the crowns of each tooth and below the gumline.
  5. Crown polishing — Polishing is recommended after cleaning to help reduce micro-abrasions on your pup’s enamel.
  6. Periodontal probing — The vet will probe around each tooth to look for abnormalities, such as gingival pockets, fractured teeth, foreign material stuck between the teeth, signs of infection, and tooth movement.

In some cases, it may be necessary to perform additional procedures during the cleaning. Here are some extra procedures your dog might need:

  • Extractions. If a tooth needs to be removed, a nerve block is often administered beforehand to numb the pup’s mouth so that there is no pain at the extraction site.
  • Antibiotic therapy. If your dog has an underlying risk factor such as a heart murmur, the vet may prescribe antibiotics several days before surgery.
  • Antiplaque sealant application. To decrease plaque accumulation, your vet might apply a barrier sealant.
  • Oral mass biopsies. A vet will send any abnormal mass found in the mouth to a pathologist to analyze if it is cancerous.

Reading all this, you may understandably be anxious at the thought of putting your dog under anesthesia for professional teeth cleaning, let alone the costs associated with it. Keep in mind that as expensive as this procedure can be, it could end up costing you a lot more if a condition develops down the line from a lack of professional oral care.

Be sure to brush your canine pal’s teeth regularly, and have your vet keep an eye on their plaque and tartar buildup. Routine cleanings will help to keep the cost of dental care low and improve their overall health.

Frequently asked questions

Is it worth getting your dog’s teeth cleaned?

Even if your dog doesn’t have a dental condition, it is recommended that they have their teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year to catch oral diseases early. Some breeds that are prone to dental problems may require more frequent cleanings.

What does a professional dog teeth cleaning entail?

A teeth cleaning often includes a preliminary exam, pain medications, anesthesia, and monitoring devices to make sure your dog is okay throughout the procedure. Vets will clean under the gums to remove tartar and plaque and polish the dog’s crowns. Dental X-rays and tooth extractions may also be deemed necessary.

Can I remove plaque from my dog’s teeth at home?

Daily brushing of your dog’s teeth with special doggie toothpaste, plus giving them chews and adding dental water additives or a dental powder, can reduce plaque. It’s still important to take your dog in for professional cleaning when recommended by your veterinarian.

What factors determine canine teeth cleaning costs?

Your dog’s age, size, pre-existing conditions, and the extent of their oral problems will all be factored into the cost of their professional dental cleaning. The type of practitioner you see will also determine the cost, as general practitioners are typically not as expensive as veterinary dental specialists.

Does pet insurance cover dental cleanings?

Most accident and illness pet insurance plans won’t cover canine dental cleanings because they’re considered preventative. That said, some providers will have the option for an add-on wellness plan that covers preventative care like dental cleanings.