Cat dental care in San Francisco
November 22, 2010 11:02 PM   Subscribe

About a year ago, the vet at the San Francisco SPCA told us our cat needed to get her teeth cleaned (and possibly have some teeth extracted) and that it would be almost $1000. We know we need to do this, and were wondering if there are cheaper (but still good) alternatives available in San Francisco.

Our cat is now 7 years old. We tried to communicate to the SPCA staff that cost was an issue, and asked if there was any way we could pay in installments or if there were any other options. We were told we had to pay for the whole procedure upfront, and the only financial assistance we were offered was some sort of credit card with a slightly lower interest rate than average. I love organizations like the SF SPCA, but the lack of payment options really surprised me and seems kind of seems at odds with their mission. In any case, we want to be responsible pet owners and do the right thing, but we also have medical and dental bills of our own! What other options are there in San Francisco? I have also heard that anesthesia-free cleanings are cheaper, but I'm not sure if that is what is best for my cat. Any help is appreciated!
posted by firemonkey to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you do the process in stages?

eg, break the teeth cleaning up into four mini-cleans (each dealing with some but not all teeth), to make the cost more manageable?

and postpone the extractions until you are able to pay for it?
posted by Year of meteors at 11:26 PM on November 22, 2010

$1,000 seems a bit steep, even with the extractions.

My understanding is you don't want to break this up into stages, because part of the reason it costs so much is that they put your cat out when they clean her teeth. Putting her out several time will end up costing more, and can't be good for you cat.

I'm sure you can find a cheaper option. I got my cat's teeth cleaned once, in the metro-Los Angeles area, and it didn't cost anywhere near $1,000. I'd say you need a second opinion. Try Yelp!ing other local vets.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:54 PM on November 22, 2010

$1,000 is steep. My mog has just had her teeth cleaned in London and it cost £250 ($400).
posted by MuffinMan at 12:23 AM on November 23, 2010

That sounds really expensive. When Al, the Best Cat Ever, had two rotten teefs pulled and a cleaning a few months ago it was less than $400.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:29 AM on November 23, 2010

Our dachshund has been scheduled for a cleaning on Dec 1. They have to put him out for the procedure ( no extractions) $275. This is in Maine.
posted by lobstah at 5:37 AM on November 23, 2010

My cat had this done a month ago. Pre-op labs & EKG, anesthesia, cleaning, and one pulled tooth (and pain meds to go home with) were around $350. This was in San Jose. If you feel like making the drive down, memail me and I'll give you my vet's info.
posted by dogmom at 5:45 AM on November 23, 2010

How's her heart? We were looking at a similar bill with ours due to needing an EEG and ultrasound (sep. traveling doc for that) to determine first if she was fit for the anesthesia required, since she had a heart murmur. It turned out she wasn't a good candidate but also didn't need a cleaning, so it was just the cost of the EEG, ultrasound, and dental care regime materials like a toothbrush and toothpaste.
posted by jwells at 5:57 AM on November 23, 2010

I'm also scratching my head here. Like jwells, I have a cat with a heart murmur that needed to be checked before doing the cleaning & extractions, and the cost was still about half of what you were quoted. Definitely check with another vet.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:46 AM on November 23, 2010

The SPCA's rates seem to be the most expensive, across the board. I would hazard a guess that a private vet would be less pricey and more open to a payment plan. Good luck!
posted by noxetlux at 7:38 AM on November 23, 2010

Response by poster: I'm glad I am not the only one who thinks this is steep. This is my first foray into the kitty dental world, so I don't really have a basis for comparison. Other than her teeth, our cat is completely healthy. She is also a terrible traveler, so we want to stay within SF if possible.
posted by firemonkey at 7:50 AM on November 23, 2010

Best answer: I can't remember if I had my cat's teeth cleaned there (I know she needed it) but I had a good experience taking her to the Mission Pet Hospital on Valencia. The website is pretty minimal but when my cat was in her last days they could not have been more helpful and compassionate. I'd give them a call and check their rates.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:41 AM on November 23, 2010

The SF SPCA is notoriously more expensive for some reason, even for booster shots.

Our vet is Avenues Pet Hospital in the Outer Sunset -- depending on where you are, this might be a bit of a trek, but they're really friendly and nice. We have paid vet bills in installments on credit cards there for years.

Cat No. 3 got her teeth cleaned earlier this year, and had to have three pulled (they were baaad, but she'd never let us get near her to clean them, and she would never have gone for anesthetic-free cleaning without there being blood and fur on the walls).

I think it cost about $1000 all told, including pain meds and some sort of antibiotic mouth lotion. I think a cleaning would be a lot cheaper than that, but do ask first.
posted by vickyverky at 10:47 AM on November 23, 2010

Best answer: For complicated reasons, I can no longer take my kitty to his old vet that I liked a lot. I ended up taking him to the local Petsmart, which has a vet office with like 4-5 vets who rotate around during the week, and where they happen to have a $350ish yearly health plan for cats that includes teeth cleaning (and lots more), and he got his cleaning a couple months or so ago. It's much cheaper than $1000, plus has coverage for a lot of other services, should kitty need them.
posted by so_gracefully at 12:59 PM on November 23, 2010

Best answer: I would also call the Nob Hill Cat Clinic. I haven't had to take my guy in for teeth cleaning yet, but everything so far has been reasonably priced, and they are super nice.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:05 PM on November 23, 2010

My 12 yr old son's 2 yr old cat, Angelica, started having peculiar breath, got nervous when the other cats came around, and flinched if you touched her cheeks, so I had her checked out. Turns out she has 'stomatitis' -- some kind of disease wherein her gums are growing over her teeth. As tartar on the teeth makes it worse, hard food is helpful because it scrapes some of the tartar away, but crunchies are pretty painful for her to eat. The treatment, other than heavy pain meds forever, is to have most or all of her teeth removed. And I was told to expect it to be in the $800-$1000 range.

Cleanings typically do require anesthesia. Sometimes you can get them to skip the blood tests beforehand if the cat is younger than, say, 5.

The SPCA in my state is HORRIBLE for pricing -- even the 15% discount for foster parents is MORE expensive than my regular vet.
posted by MeiraV at 4:29 PM on November 23, 2010

I can't recommend it personally, but I've been researching vet options for adopting a dog in the next few months and have seen a lot of East Bay recommendations for the cheap-but-good clinic at PetVet Pet Food (one in El Cerrito, one in Oakland). Apparently there's a vet who has specific hours two days a week for walk in appointments, and also a dental person who does cats & dogs. I would call to see if they do cat extractions as well as cleanings and if so, where/when/how much, but everything I've read suggested they're both professional & economical.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:19 PM on November 23, 2010

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