a peek inside the fishbowl

07 Nov, 2017

How much do you pay for dog dentistry?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: dog stuff

Guess who had a dental appointment last week? Our favourite four-legged family member, Piper:

For dogs, a tooth cleaning isn’t a simple appointment involving a chatty hygenist and a lecture about the importance of flossing. It’s kind of a big deal. First of all, it’s an all-day appointment that requires bloodwork beforehand, anesthetic, IVs, and monitoring. Our vets have always insisted on x-rays because you can’t see if there are issues under the gum line. I want to trust them. I do. After all, THEY are the experts and I am not. That being said, it’s important to remember that pet care is a for-profit business.

If you are a pet owner, you know how quickly all of this adds up and how expensive it can be, especially as it pertains to dog (and cat!) dentistry. Heaven forbid there needs to be an emergency extraction done while the dog is lying on the table. Unforeseen issues can add hundreds of dollars to a relatively routine cleaning (although it’s anything BUT routine, seeing as they put the dog under while they do it).

Here’s the dog dental cost breakdown (after tax) of our most recent appointment:

  • Hospitalization:$62.33
  • Anesthesia: $282.50 (This includes exam, medications, monitoring, recovery and care.)
  • Fluids: $95.46
  • Dental eval and clean: $139.67
  • Full mouth dental x-ray $207.92

The total for our appointment was $787.88, which does not include the $180 for bloodwork we paid the week before. Sigh. The reason I am sharing the costs here is that I think it’s time to have an open dialogue about the cost of these particular veterinary services. Is this what other pet owners in Ottawa have experienced? Is it more, or less, than the average? My mother thinks it might be cheaper in rural areas, but I’m not sure about that.

Don’t get me wrong. The staff at our vets are so great. They’re very kind and caring, and I do believe Piper has been treated well, but I’m hoping that other Ottawa dog owners will find this post and share the price of their dental care for (a) a cost comparison and (b) a good discussion.

Related: Some vets recommend these Dog Oral Hygiene Chews for her teeth. At the very least, this brand appears to be getting good reviews from Amazon customers, so I may pick up a bag in order to supplement her nightly brushing. (YES. We have committed to brushing her teeth every day. Does everyone do this? We just can’t afford not to, and of course, we don’t want Piper to lose any teeth.)

We always get asked about pet insurance at the vet’s, which we don’t have. What we DID do was skim a bit off each paycheque and sock it away in a TFSA. I think it’s better than pet insurance, although we’ve drained it now and need to start all over again. Sigh.

I’d love to hear your two cents about dog dentistry in Ottawa, or where ever you are!

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5 Responses to "How much do you pay for dog dentistry?"

1 | joy

November 7th, 2017 at 3:02 pm


we have 2 dogs, and have never had to do this! God help us if we ever have to – regular vet fees are high enough!

2 | andrea tomkins

November 8th, 2017 at 8:12 am


It’s funny that some breeds don’t seem to need that extra bit of dental care! Do you have small dogs or big dogs? We had a big dog growing up – an Airedale terrier – and I don’t think we ever took him to the doggy dentist! I wonder if small dogs are more likely to need their teeth professionally cleaned?

3 | Amy

November 8th, 2017 at 1:36 pm


I now live in Houston, TX. We recently took our cat in for dental cleaning, costs were about the same as what you listed. It was the first time we’d done so as well, I was rather floored by the costs.
The vet included the same brand of chews, our cats all loved them.
We’ve been too chicken to try brushing her teeth though, did Piper have any issues with you touching/inspecting her teeth before?

4 | andrea tomkins

November 8th, 2017 at 3:15 pm


Piper doesn’t LOVE having her teeth brushed, but she lets us in there long enough that we can have a quick go at it. I think the trick is to start slow. Start with a quick look at the teeth and gradually work your way up to a brushing. I’ve been doing some reading and there are some tooth pastes you don’t need to apply with a toothbrush! Just with a finger. It’s essentially about changing the chemistry in the mouth so as not to cause tartar build up and cavities. (But hey, I’m not a vet, so… ) :)

5 | Hattie

November 29th, 2017 at 11:18 am


I have two little dogs, they are seniors now and I brush their teeth every other day but they still need a cleaning every year. Without extractions it’s $1500 for the pair. It costs so much because they have to be anesthetized but I definitely feel like it’s worth it. I’m in Ottawa and downtown, vets might be cheaper out in the country but I’m loyal to my vets who know my dogs. Fundamentally I do not think vets are out to scam people but perhaps we don’t understand full costs of their operations because we ourselves have free health care.

As a society, we didn’t use to clean dogs’ teeth, true, but we also didn’t do a lot of things we now know are good for us/dogs/kids,etc. I bet we had a lot of pets die from preventable diseases due to rotten mouths. Not to mention the foul smell and pain they must have been in.

I don’t have pet insurance either, like you I skim some off the top and put it in a TFSA.

Woofs to Piper!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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