Dental Care for Pets from Angie’s List

If your pet's breath could knock you out
of your shoes, it's
probably time for the veterinarian to take a look inside his mouth. Too many
pet lovers forget that animals require great oral care, too

Every pet builds
up plague and gingivitis at different rates. Left untreated, periodontal
disease can affect your pet's heart and kidneys.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer
reviews, asked highly
rated veterinarians about the importance of dental care.

Teeth check during annual visit: Your vet should check your pet's teeth
during the annual checkup. Between visits, check regularly for redness, missing
or broken teeth or exceedingly bad breath

Dental cleaning may be needed: A dental cleaning is a medical procedure
where the vet will remove tartar and teeth will be evaluated. Once under
general anesthesia, the pet's teeth will be x-rayed and cleaned and polished.

What does a cleaning cost? Pet dental cleanings range from $200 to
$800. It can cost more if your pet's dental disease is extensive. Pets must be
asleep during this procedure, so check that your cleaning estimate covers the
price of anesthesia. Money saving tip: Bundle teeth cleanings
with other procedures that require anesthesia.

Who is at risk? Certain breeds of dogs and cats develop
more extensive dental problems than others, making dental care even more
important, so check with your vet.

Look for warning signs: Bad breath is often an indicator. Also
look for excessive tartar, redness of the gums, teeth that appear damaged,
broken or chipped. Other signs you may notice: your pet doesn't play with their
toys anymore or they may drop food or only chew with one side of their mouth.

List Tips: How to save money on dental care

Dental cleanings are expensive: It always pays to shop around. Hiring tip: Do your research and call
at least three veterinarians and ask what they charge for this procedure and
what is included.

Consider your options: Some pet owners have found it helpful to
open a pet savings account to prepare for these costs, or you can ask your veterinarian
if they offer a payment plan. If you are considering pet insurance, be sure to
ask about deductibles, exclusions, co-pays and caps.

Remember that old adage that an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure?
Brushing your pet's teeth can lessen the number of times you need a
professional cleaning and you'll be able to detect problems at the outset when
it's easier and cheaper to treat. If it's difficult to brush your pet's teeth,
ask your vet any alternatives to help keep your pet's teeth clean.