It’s common knowledge that our pet’s breath can smell pretty bad. What’s less known is that bad breath isn’t actually normal among cats and dogs. Sure, a diet of minced-up meats with strange jelly pieces mixed through won’t leave your pet with roses on their tongue. But bad breath in pets is actually commonly a sign of dental disease.
The reality is many of us aren’t aware of the dental requirements our pets face. After all, wild animals can’t brush their teeth, and it’s hard to imagine they’re all roaming about in need of a root canal.
But centuries of domestication have made things a little different for our pets. Their diets are different, often higher in sugar and carbs and without tough bones to grind their teeth on. Plus their lifespans are longer. Many wild animals die long before their teeth can rot.
So how can you best care for your pet’s teeth? And how can pet dental insurance help you better manage the costs involved?
How will I know if my pet needs dental care?
Unfortunately, cats and dogs can’t communicate their problems clearly. And they commonly mask pain and discomfort. In fact, a dog suffering from serious dental issues will often eat as eagerly and normally as usual.
However, some tell-tale signs that your pet needs dental care include:
- Bad breath
- Unwillingness/hesitation to eat
- Red gums
- Visible tartar buildup
- Cracked teeth
Ultimately, you may need to physically inspect your pet’s mouth to get a better idea of your pet’s oral health. While regular dental check-ups will provide a more comprehensive assessment.
Of course, properly caring for your pet’s mouth and teeth in the first place will help reduce the likelihood of dental issues arising.
How to care for your pet’s teeth
There are a few simple steps you can take, at home, to keep your pet’s teeth in tip-top shape:
- Brush their teeth regularly (daily if possible) with an approved pet toothpaste
- Feed them treats specifically designed to remove plaque build-up
- Feed them a diet that helps minimise the risk of dental disease
- Providing appropriate chewing items, such as rawhide or raw bones can help reduce tartar and plaque build-up. Consult your vet on what is appropriate for your pet
While all the above steps can help keep your pet’s teeth in good health, a visit to a vet for dental procedures may still be still necessary. And that’s where the bills can really start to pile up.
How much does it cost to take your pet to the dentist?
Even a simple cleaning can easily set you back $200-$400+. This is because in order for the vet to do a thorough cleaning procedure, your pet will need to be anesthetised.
Factor in that your pet needs a cleaning every 6-12 months and that can be pretty costly.
And if your pet needs anything more than a clean, you could be looking at hundreds of dollars more. X-rays, tooth extractions, and root canals are all commonly needed by pets suffering dental issues. And they can all be expensive.
Does pet insurance cover dental care?
Dental cover is not a guarantee when it comes to pet insurance. In fact, plenty of policies have a specific exclusion for any form of dental cover. However, some policies do provide some level of dental cover. But there are a few things to note:
Is it an optional extra?
Many pet insurance policies have the option to add pet dental insurance for an extra cost, while others include it automatically in their comprehensive pet insurance policies.
It’s worth noting that if it is an optional extra, you will also need a comprehensive policy to add it to. You can’t get an accident-only policy, and then add dental cover to it.
→Related article: What Are the Different Types of Pet Insurance?
Even if your policy covers dental care, it’s essential to consider what is actually covered. While some policies cover general dental care, such as check-ups and cleanings, others only cover you for any medically necessary operations, such as root canals and extractions.
Furthermore, it’s important to ask whether there are any eligibility requirements for the cover. For example, your insurer may not cover your pet for a root canal if it’s the result of negligence on your part. For example, you haven’t taken your pet in for any prior dental check-ups or cleanings, which allowed the condition to worsen over time.
How much cover does it offer?
With most pet insurance policies, dental cover has its own benefit limit. This means while you may have $15,000 of cover per annum, only $500 can go towards dental bills.
Be sure to check any limits and whether they will be adequate, or worth the added premiums.
What other options do I have?
If your pet insurance doesn’t cover dental care, then there is little option but to pay for your pet’s dental work out of your own pocket.
Some vets offer payment plans, to help make the costs more manageable. Some may even offer a dental plan of their own, where, for a set price, your pet is entitled to a cleaning or two each year.
But if you’re already staring down the barrel of costly vet bills, you may have to look at putting it on a credit card, or taking out a personal loan to help manage the expenses. Here at Canstar we can help you find the best credit card for your needs, and help you compare personal loans, so you can get the best deal.
Or, if you want to learn more about pet insurance, and compare pet insurance providers, hit the button below:
About the author of this page
This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.