Vet costs
August 8, 2005 8:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm bringing my eleven-year old cat to the vet tonight for his first teeth cleaning. I know he has to have blood tests first, and that anasthesia will be involved. The vet said there might be some extractions depending on the condition of his teeth. Can anyone give me a ballpark on what this is going to cost? I need to figure out how to juggle my finances to pay for it.
posted by ereshkigal45 to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
When our cat was about 7 she had one tooth extracted and the rest cleaned. Total cost was about $350. Your vet should be able to give you an estimate.
posted by onhazier at 8:56 AM on August 8, 2005

Your vet can - and should - give you an estimate before you agree to the procedure. Ballpark I would say about $300-$500 for the anesthesia and the blood tests. I can't say for the extractions. Price may vary based on your geographical area and the quality of your vet (mine do very thorough tests for elderly cats, some of which are more expensive).
posted by matildaben at 8:56 AM on August 8, 2005

I paid $350 for a cleaning w/ three teeth extractions for one of my cats.

At our vet the bloodwork ranges from $50 to $100 alone, depending on the age of the cat and any conditions he might have. Then add in at least $100 for the cleaning and doping-up, and maybe another $100-200 for yanking several teeth if they need too.
posted by divka at 9:21 AM on August 8, 2005

It also depends on which tooth they have to pull. My cat and I went through this ordeal a few months ago. With the anaesthesia pre-tests, cleaning, and an extraction that was supposedly more complicated (they had to chop the tooth in half and then pull it out) than a typical pull, my total was $477.

The vet called me while she was still knocked out and he knew the extent of her teeth's condition -- he didn't know what my bill would be until then -- and I had the option of scheduling the extraction later if I wanted to postpone paying the $189 or whatever it was for pulling the tooth. I opted to not put her through two vet visits and get it done in one trip.

My cat was SO much happier after it was done, but I do think I should have shopped around and gone to a new vet... I'd had concerns about price-gouging from the same clinic before and am no longer their customer.
posted by kittyb at 9:32 AM on August 8, 2005

Thanks, all. I was worried that the costs might end up north of $600, which will be a bit of a stretch for me. I'll be happy if it stays under $500. I'm just glad I can finally do this for Sweetie. I was, um, underemployed for a few years, and we both went without a lot of basic health care during that time, so we're both catching up now. I hope the delay doesn't cost him too many teeth. He's not in any pain, and his only symptom is some pretty bad assbreath, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:55 AM on August 8, 2005

My bill for cleanings/bloodwork/etc was about $300 (no extractions, though). To save costs in future, you might want to look in to brushing your cat's teeth. I know, I know--sounds like a crazy thing to do. But the preventative maintenance might pay off in smaller dental bills down the road. I got a small toothbrush and some special toothpaste the vet makes for about $10, and I brush my cat's teeth about three times a week. You only have to do the outsides of the teeth for about thirty seconds total, and the vet said that just getting the paste in the mouth helps. We've got it down to a pretty good routine with a minimum of fussing--and plenty of treats afterward.
posted by handful of rain at 10:15 AM on August 8, 2005

No way, handful of rain. It's just not going to happen. Sweetie was a semi-feral kitten, and he's always been skittish. He's very cuddly, but only on his terms, which is to say, when I'm falling/asleep he'll come and curl up against me and let me hold him. I can't pick him up at all. His skittishness is only exacerbated by the fact that I have to sneak up on him when he's sleeping every couple of days and cram a pill down his throat for his Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Also, he weighs 19 pounds (but he's not fat, I swear!) and when he's determined to get away, there's no holding him.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:50 AM on August 8, 2005

You didn't ask the vet what it was going to ballpark cost? He/she would know best. How do we know what your vet charges?
posted by agregoli at 11:02 AM on August 8, 2005

We paid about $300 (no extractions). In order to prevent this from happening again (and to avoid brushing the cat's teeth, which is not really an option), my vet recommended that we give the cat a small handfull (around 5-6 pieces) of Feline T/D catfood from Hills Prescription Diet every day. I think you can only get the food from the vet, but since it's only a little every day, it's not so expensive.
posted by gokart4xmas at 11:32 AM on August 8, 2005

Are there Banfield pet hospitals near you? I pay $25.00 a month for kitty insurance and her teeth are cleaned for no extra charge once a year. It's a good deal here in Portland.
posted by yodelingisfun at 11:36 AM on August 8, 2005

No way, handful of rain. It's just not going to happen.

Hey, that's what I thought, too--but here I am, four months later, brushing the cat's teeth. My does sound more mellow than yours, though. I'm mostly interested in not having to have his teeth cleaned again any time soon, both to save him the stress/danger of a trip to the vet and general anesthesia, and also to save myself some cash!
posted by handful of rain at 11:39 AM on August 8, 2005

Well, I'm willing to give it a try, handful of rain, because, as you say, it would be worth it to save him the stress and danger of additional vet visits.

I will definitely give the Hills food a try. He's not much of a chowhound, despite his size, but he does like his kibble.

agregoli, I did ask my vet and she was very vague about it. Therefore, I wanted to get an idea of what people's typical experiences were. But thanks for contributing so positively.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:51 AM on August 8, 2005

>I did ask my vet and she was very vague about it.

It's probably hard for her to know until she gets in there. The extractions will drive the price up, as will the level of cleaning they have to do (i.e. light vs. really heavy buildup). My vet provides a price range--and wants 50% paid when you drop the animal off, the other 50% when you pick him/her up--but makes it clear that the costs may go higher.

You might actually want to follow kittyb's lead and tell the vet to phone you if the price of the extractions drive the cost above a certain point. Although it will cost you more in the long run to bring the cat back for another go-round, it might help keep from blowing your budget this month. Some vets also offer financing plans, but I'd check on that before you get the work done.

And, hey, give the brushing a shot! My cat took a few days to recover from his cleaning, so I really don't want to have to take him back again. He was a little spacey and skittish when we brought him home, and he just seemed sort of shell-shocked for a day or two after.
posted by handful of rain at 12:03 PM on August 8, 2005

agregoli, I did ask my vet and she was very vague about it. Therefore, I wanted to get an idea of what people's typical experiences were. But thanks for contributing so positively.

Just asking the question - seems fairly obvious that the vet would know best. If someone answers me vaugely about what a procedure is going to be costing me, I press for a more concrete answer. But thanks for looking for speculative answers!
posted by agregoli at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2005

A tip my vet gave me - if your cat (or dog) is going under anaesthetic for anything else, ask the vet to clean the animal's teeth at the same time.

The teeth cleaning itself is relatively cheap, it's the anaesthetic, etc. that's expensive, so if you can, try to kill two birds with one stone (to use a rather unfortunate phrase in a vet thread ...)
posted by essexjan at 1:09 PM on August 8, 2005

Handfull of rain:
Just for the record, the vet dental cleaning is (or at least should be) preventative work, and from the sound of it, has some pretty incredible knock-on benefits to their quality of life. (I know some people at a clinic, and they're amazed by the difference seen in the few cats that get an annual dental for preventative reasons, rather than the usual situation. A cat's mouth and their comfort in eating (and presumably their hygene and other factors) affects so many different things.

Not saying that cleaning them yourself isn't totally fantastic, as it is, just that the goal shouldn't be seen so much as avoiding the other preventitive maintenance, but as companions fighting the same good fight. (Yeah I know, reality check, finances and stress do come into it, but I just wanted to say). And from what I've heard, your cats quality of life, epecially as it ages, will be greatly improved. And it will age slower and more gracefully than other cats.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:21 PM on August 8, 2005

My vet does a nice thing, with low and high estimates based on the number of procedures.

Hitting the high estimate, I spent well over a grand on kitty tooth extractions and surgery-related stuff.

(Part of that is New York inflation, of course—but also, if your cat is 10+ years old, there could be lots of rotten chompers in there.)

Of course, I haven't been to the dentist myself in years. But, hey, kitten is happy and healthy. When I get to heaven, will there be dozens of cats to wait on me hand and foot?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:22 PM on August 8, 2005

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