Scheduling a dental cleaning for your cat is really important for their overall health, but it can do a number on your wallet. Cleaning your cat's teeth can cost anywhere from $800 or more, depending on whether your cat needs dental x-rays or teeth pulled. Fortunately, there are ways you can provide your cat with the best care possible while still saving money. How? Here are my seven industry secrets from my time working in veterinary hospitals.
1. Take Advantage of National Dental Month Discounts
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and a lot of veterinary hospitals offer discounts on teeth cleaning procedures to celebrate. You’re looking at a savings of around 10-20% in most cases, but every dollar counts, especially when the procedure is several hundreds of dollars.
If your veterinary hospital offers a dental month discount, get on the books ASAP because those appointments get snatched up fast!
2. Get Several Cat Dental Cleaning Price Quotes
We all do a little price-shopping before making a big purchase, so don't feelbad about doing the same before scheduling a big procedure. If you’re not married to your current veterinary hospital, call around to find a good deal elsewhere. Here are a few helpful questions you can ask to help with your search:
What’s Your Total Cost of a Cat Dental Cleaning?
Make sure you ask for the total cost because the cost of the cleaning itself is a lot lower than the cost of the entire procedure.
Many pets need tooth extractions at the time of their dentals. It's common for a veterinary practice to give a per-extraction cost, as they won't know how many extractions your cat needs until they're under anesthesia.
Is Anesthesia Included In the Price Estimate?
You’ll want to confirm that they’re not giving you the price of an anesthesia-free dental (which we’ll talk about in a sec). Anesthesia often accounts for the majority of the procedure price, so make sure that’s included.
Are There Any Extra Fees?
Things like pre-op exams, bloodwork, dental x-rays, extractions, or medications to go home sometimes aren’t included in estimates, but they can definitely drive up the total price. Ask about these so you can better compare prices.
Be aware that some veterinary hospitals won’t give you a price estimate without seeing your pet first, but you can ask for a general estimate to help you compare apples to apples.
3. Schedule Multiple Procedures at the Same Time
Does your cat need a dental cleaning along with another procedure, like a growth removal or spay? See if you can have them done at the same time. That way, you’ll pay for the blood work, anesthesia, and after-care meds just once. Yes, the initial cost will be more, but you’ll save in the long run. As a bonus, your cat won’t have to go under anesthesia twice.
4. Stay Away from Anesthesia-Free Dentals
Non-anesthetic pet dentals might sound like a cheaper and better option than having your pet put under, but there are a lot of risks involved. In fact, they’re illegal in many U.S. states for this reason. Scraping the teeth with a metal tool while your cat is awake creates rough grooves in the teeth, which actually attract bacteria. Plus, it’s not possible to get in there and see the very back molars or examine below the gumline, where a lot of dental disease lives.
Anesthesia-free pet dentals might be priced lower, but they usually cause more harm than good in the long run. Save your money for a real professional dental cleaning.
5. Get a Pet Wellness Plan or Insurance With Full Coverage
Pet insurance is an awesome investment, although a lot of people are discouraged to learn that most policies don’t cover routine things, like dentals. However, if you go with the full coverage plan or purchase a wellness care plan directly from your veterinarian, there’s a good chance they’ll cover a professional dental cleaning. Do your research to see what kind of coverage different providers offer.
6. Don’t Wait to Schedule Your Cat’s Dental
It’s a common misconception that it’s best to wait until a cat’s teeth are really dirty before scheduling a dental cleaning. But that’s not the case. You can actually save a lot of money (and save your cat a lot of discomfort) by scheduling routine dental cleanings, or at least scheduling one at the first signs of oral disease. This will help prevent rotten teeth and infections from occurring, which are expensive to address during dentals.
7. Take Regular Measures to Keep Your Cat’s Teeth Healthy
Regular dental maintenance can definitely save you money on cleanings. It’s never too late to start brushing your cat’s teeth, but if they won’t tolerate that, there are plenty of other things you can do. Dental treats, water additives, and spray gels are great alternatives.
Look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOH) Seal so you know they’re veterinarian-approved and will actually work.
Reducing Cat Teeth Cleaning Costs
Cat dental cleanings are kind of a non-negotiable expense. When your cat needs one, you’ll want to schedule it as soon as your finances will allow. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save a little money here and there. Through preventive measures and planning, you can definitely pocket a little. Don’t forget to share the wealth and let your cat-loving friends know how they can save, too.