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Average Cost to Clean Your Dog's Teeth 2019

A professional dog teeth cleaning is recommended once a year to help stave off plaque and tartar that can lead to gum inflammation, periodontal disease and even tooth loss. But how much should you pay to have your pooch's teeth scaled and polished? We've researched the market to discover average dental cleaning costs, so you know if you're getting a good deal or not from your vet.

How Much Does it Cost to Clean Dog's Teeth?

The average cost to clean your dog's teeth in the UK is around £233. Prices can vary considerably, however, depending on factors like where you live and the age and weight of your dog. For example, the highest prices in our study reflected dental cleanings in London including blood work and an IV, which both add to the cost of a teeth cleaning and are typically needed for older dogs. If your dog is small, young and healthy, you might pay as little as £149 for a scale & polish in some areas.

Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost UK
Low£149
High£516
Average£233
chart showing the cost of dental cleaning for dogs in the UK
How much is dog teeth cleaning in the UK?

Why is Dog Teeth Cleaning So Expensive?

In most cases, it costs more to have your dog's teeth cleaned than your own. Why is that? Primarily, anesthesia. While most people will sit calmly in the dentist's chair and cooperate—as much as they may hate it—the same can't be said about your four-legged friend.

A professional dental cleaning can be quite painful, as it involves working under the gum line to remove the built-up plaque, tartar and bacteria that can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss. To save the vet from being bitten and your dog from pain and distress, dogs are typically put under anesthesia for a dental cleaning.

Why is dental cleaning for your dog so expensive?

  • 1. Pre-cleaning blood work: Older dogs or dogs in questionable health may need pre-procedure blood work to ensure their kidneys and liver can process the anesthesia.
  • 2. Anesthesia: In order to safely and comfortably clean your dog's teeth, he'll need to be put under anesthesia.
  • 3. IV drip: Not used in all cases, an IV drip can help your pet stay hydrated and maintain their blood pressure during anesthetic. Your dog will have fasted before the procedure and already be low on fluids, so an IV helps keep him hydrated to assist the liver and kidneys in processing the anesthesia.
  • 4. Post-cleaning pain medication: Your vet may prescribe pain medication for you to take home to alleviate post-cleaning pain if the plaque and tarter on dog's teeth were particularly bad. The more built up the plaque and tarter, the more your vet will need to scrape the teeth and under the gums, leading to painful gums later on.
  • 5. Weight of your dog: Anesthesia and pain medication are dosed by weight, so large dogs will have a larger teeth cleaning bill than small dogs.
  • 6. Age of your dog: Older dogs are more likely to suffer from kidney or liver weakness, so your vet is more likely to order blood work for an older pet. As a result, teeth cleaning is generally more expensive for older dogs.

If your dog is older or in poor health, a dental cleaning is likely to cost more. For older pets or a pet displaying signs of poor health, your vet may recommend pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure the liver and kidneys are functioning properly. If these organs cannot process the anesthesia, your dog could become very ill or even die. Blood work can help ensure that your dog will wake up from anesthesia as he should.

An IV might be recommended as well, to help assist the liver and kidneys to process the anesthesia, as well as maintain blood pressure. Whether or not these expenses are required for your dog will depend primarily upon his age and general state of health.

Do You Need to Get Your Dog's Teeth Cleaned?

Dental cleaning is important to maintain the long-term health of your dog—flashing a pearly white smile and better breath are just added side benefits. A dog whose teeth are not cleaned will develop a build up of plaque and tartar, which can first lead to gingivitis (inflammation and redness of the gums) and later to periodontitis (a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth, leading to loose teeth or tooth loss). In addition, bacteria from a gum infection can move to other organs in your dog's body (e.g., heart, liver, kidneys, etc.) causing further illness.

How Often should you Professionally Clean your Dog's Teeth?

The vets we spoke to recommended a dental exam once a year, which you can coordinate with their annual vaccinations. Depending on the state of your dog's mouth, your vet may or may not recommend a professional cleaning at that time. It's possible your dog will need a cleaning once a year. However, dogs accumulate plaque and tarter at different rates and your dog may need a cleaning more or less often.

If you think once a year sounds too frequent to have your dog's teeth cleaned, consider that humans should get their teeth cleaned every 6 months—and we brush our teeth every day! Having an annual dental exam is also important if you have pet insurance. Many plans require dental exams every 12 months and not doing so could invalidate any related dental insurance claims, if dental is covered by your pet insurance plan.

Tips to Save Money on Dog Dental Cleaning

Given the expense and frequency of dog dental cleaning, many pet owners will pay thousands of pounds over the course of a dog's life to keep their teeth and gums healthy. A scale & polish can be one of the largest annual costs of owning a dog. By following a few simple steps you may be able to knock hundreds of pounds off the cost of dental maintenance for your dog.

Compare prices: Perhaps the simplest way to save money quickly on your dog's teeth cleaning is to compare prices with a few local vets. Given the wide range in prices we found in our study, it's clear that shopping around for the lowest price could potentially save you 50% or more on a dog dental cleaning. For example, our data showed a vet practice located on a high street on the outskirts of London charged 1.6X the cost of another practice just a mile away on a quiet side road, for the same dental cleaning. As they say in real estate, "location, location, location!"

When comparing quotes, however, be wary of any ridiculously low prices and be sure to understand what's included in each quote to make a fair comparison. For instance, are pre-cleaning blood work (also called a "blood profile"), an IV (also called a "drip") or post-cleaning pain medication (typically Metacam) included in the price? Whether or not blood work and an IV are recommended depend largely on the age, health and severity of your dog's condition.

Join your vet's wellness care plan: For a monthly fee in the range of £12 to £26 (depending on factors like the size of your pet) some veterinary practices offer a wellness plan to help you spread out costs of an annual wellness exam and preventative treatments such as vaccinations and flea, tick and wormer medication.

Additionally, wellness plans typically provide access to discounts for other procedures such as dental cleanings, neutering or spaying, etc. The discount for dog and cat teeth cleaning from a wellness plan is frequently around 10% (5% to 15%), which can save you on the order of £15 to £50 depending on the cost of dental cleanings for your pet at your vet.

Brush your dog's teeth: By brushing your dog's teeth with an antibacterial enzyme toothpaste to help fight plaque and tarter you might prolong the time between cleanings, thus saving money in the long run. We don't know anyone who actually remembers to do this regularly, however—a tip that is admittedly easier in theory than in practice!

Specialist dental dog food and chews: There are a number of dog foods and chew sticks on the market that claim to help knock off the plaque and tartar from a dog's teeth as they chew. The chew sticks help clean the teeth because they are quite hard and rub along the teeth as the dog works through the treat. Dental dog foods are designed as larger-than-normal pieces of hard kibble that a dog has to crunch into and break up in order to eat (as opposed to small pieces of kibble that are practically swallowed whole), also helping to physically clean the teeth.

We've tried both dental chew sticks and dental dog food with some success—it's hard to prove exactly how effective they are, but in our experience the build up of plaque and tarter has been reduced when using these methods. As a result, cleanings might needed less frequently, saving you money in the long run.

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