When we think about covering veterinary costs for our pets, we’re usually thinking about routine checkups, vaccinations, and the costs of treatments for serious illnesses or accidents. But just like humans, dental care is an important part of maintaining our pet’s overall health.
Dental disease in dogs and cats can be just as serious as any other illness. If left untreated, bad oral hygiene can lead to bad breath, infection, tooth loss, and malnutrition. Unfortunately, this often happens because dental treatments at the vet can be very expensive.
Many owners choose to defer the cost of routine dental cleanings and allow the problem to slowly worsen over time, leading to more expensive treatments down the road. Some dental treatments can cost over $1,000, so you might want to consider getting dental coverage as part of your pet insurance plan.
Here’s what you need to know about pet dental insurance and how to find gold star coverage for your pet.
Table of Contents:
- How does dental insurance work for dogs and cats?
- Which pet insurance companies cover dental treatment?
- What is a pre-existing condition?
- What dental treatments are covered by pet insurance?
- What dental treatments are excluded by pet insurance?
- How do you add pet dental insurance?
- How do I find the best dental insurance for my pet?
- How can you save on money on pet dental care?
- Key Takeaways
- Frequently Asked Questions
How does dental insurance work for dogs and cats?
Unlike human healthcare, pet dental insurance is not sold separately; rather, it's included as a feature within most traditional pet insurance plans. In most cases, owners pay a monthly fee toward their annual premium and receive reimbursement for a certain percentage of upfront vet costs paid for out of pocket once they've met their deductible.
Note that not all pet insurance plans cover the cost of dental treatments, nor are all treatments covered, so it's important to carefully compare the details of each policy to ensure you find the right solution.
Pawlicy Advisor makes it easy to search for pet insurance plans with dental coverage, but remember to carefully read through other policy details to know whether it's included elsewhere.
Which pet insurance companies cover dental treatment?
Most pet insurance providers offer some form of dental coverage for dogs and cats, but every plan is different. You can find pet dental plans from all of the insurance companies that partner with Pawlicy Advisor, including:
- ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
- Hartville Pet Insurance
- Pet’s First Pet Insurance
- Petplan Pet Insurance
- Pets Best Pet Insurance
Why do I need dental insurance for my pet?
According to Tufts University, about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of three show signs of oral disease by the time they are three years old. This widespread prevalence at such a young age presents a cost risk to insurance providers, which is why they often limit or deny dental coverage. For example, they typically set a maximum reimbursement rate, exclude coverage for specific treatments, and deny claims pertaining to pre-existing conditions.
What is a pre-existing condition?
In terms of pet insurance, a pre-existing condition refers to any health issue discovered before your pet's insurance policy took effect. It could be related to an illness, such as periodontal disease, or accident, as in the case of a lost tooth during playtime. Pre-existing conditions can also be hereditary, and they include both short- and long-term ailments.
It's important to note that no pet insurance policy covers pre-existing conditions, meaning you cannot be reimbursed for those related expenses (although you should still enroll to receive coverage for other health concerns that might arise due to accident or illness in the years to come).
That's why it's critical to sign up for dog insurance or cat insurance while they're young, before they can develop dental diseases or other health problems that could require expensive treatments, medications, and vet visits over the course of their lifetime.
What dental treatments are covered by pet insurance?
You can many plans that include pet dental insurance for issues such as:
- Dental injuries (broken, chipped, and fractured teeth)
- Tooth extractions
- Root canals and crowns
- Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis)
What dental treatments are excluded by pet insurance?
Routine teeth cleanings are considered preventative care, so they typically do not qualify for coverage under traditional accident/illness plans. However, most pet insurance providers offer supplemental pet wellness plans that can reimburse you for cat or dog dental cleaning costs.
Some companies may have coverage requirements based on your pet’s age, for example, requiring a vet to perform an oral inspection to identify existing health concerns when enrolling pets over the age of three. Pet insurance will never cover pre-existing conditions, and they will not reimburse you for the cost of cosmetic procedures, but only those that are deemed medically necessary for your pet’s health.
The best approach is to sign up for a plan early in your pet’s life to ensure they are covered for any illnesses that may occur, oral or otherwise.
How do you add pet dental insurance?
Most the best pet insurance providers include dental treatment related to accidents and illnesses that occur after the policy goes into effect by default. If you would like routine care included within your pet dental insurance plan, you’ll typically need to add a preventative care plan.
You can find these by navigating to either the “Overview” or “Coverage Details” sections in a quote on Pawlicy Advisor and scrolling to the bottom. Here’s an example of some ASPCA Pet Health Insurance routine care add-on options for a plan for a two-year-old dog:
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plans offer generous coverage for dental issues, but you’d need to sign up for one of their Preventive Care options if you want to get coverage for routine dental cleanings. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for these expenses out of pocket.
How do I find the best dental insurance for my dog or cat?
Pawlicy Advisor makes it easy to find the best dental insurance plan for pets. That’s because we’ve read all the fine print on top providers’ policies, so you don’t have to.
When shopping for a pet insurance plan on Pawlicy Advisor, you can view each policy’s covered items and exclusions in the “Coverage Details” section after you search for and click on a quote. If you want to see what types of dental treatments are covered, just scroll down to the “Dental” section.
Below is an example of the dental coverage provided by a PetsBest insurance plan for a two-year-old dog:
As you can see, the plan covers tooth extractions and illness-related cleanings without any stipulations.
Tooth extractions are one of the most common pet dental health procedures conducted by veterinarians. They might be necessary if your pet has loose teeth or tooth fractures, which have been reported in up to 49.6% of companion animals according to the AAHA. The dental procedure itself is often simple, but it may require anesthesia, which can increase the cost.
The PetsBest plan also covers “Illness-Related Cleaning.” This refers to a non-routine dental cleaning your veterinarian might recommend if they’ve identified a dental or oral illness in your pet. If you’re covered for this, you can get a percentage of the cost from your veterinary bill back from your pet insurance company.
But the remaining items, “Dental Coverage for Periodontal Disease” and “Dental Coverage for Deciduous Teeth, Cysts, Enamel, and Unerupted Issues,” are only covered sometimes. You can learn more about the conditions of coverage by clicking on “Click for More”.
Under this PetsBest plan, pets under the age of three get full coverage of periodontal disease, a common gum disease that damages gums which can extend to the jawbone, leading to tooth loss.
However, if your pet is over the age of three, you can only receive reimbursement for treatment costs if your pet has been examined by your vet under general anesthesia within three months of the claim's date of service. This is why it’s so important to take your pet in for regular dental checkups.
Similarly, this PetsBest plan will only cover tooth extractions for periodontal disease if your pet was enrolled prior to six months of age. Although the plan lists “Dental Coverage for Tooth Extractions” as “Covered,” this is an exclusion to be mindful of.
PetsBest is just one of the brands you can get pet health insurance from through Pawlicy Advisor. Here’s another example from ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan for the same dog:
We’ve placed a star on the dental coverage details for this plan because it doesn’t include any restrictions or stipulations on coverage. If you’re serious about covering your pet’s dental health, keep an eye out for starred dental plans like this one. Always check the dental health section in each plan’s coverage details before you sign up for a plan.
How can you save money on pet dental care?
Most veterinarians recommend dogs and cats receive a dental cleaning during an their annual check-up. This will help your vet identify the first signs of health issues and ensure your pet is at a lower risk of contracting costly dental diseases later in life.
You can also take care of your pet’s dental health by brushing their teeth regularly. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, you should brush your dog's teeth twice per day or a minimum of three times per week. They recommend the same schedule for cats.
Dental hygienic treats and chews may also help maintain your pet’s oral health between cleanings.
In the meantime, use Pawlicy Advisor to search for a pet health insurance plan that provides dental coverage. Don’t forget to check the coverage details under each quote. You can also use Pawlicy Advisor to compare plans side-by-side, helping you find the best dental coverage for your furry friend.
- The cost of treatment for most pet dental issues can be very expensive without insurance.
- Many pet insurance plans include coverage for treatments related to oral injury and dental disease in pets, but coverage for routine cleanings usually falls under a separate preventative care plan.
- Pet insurance companies do not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, such as gum disease that affects two out of three pets by age three, so it's best to enroll your animal as soon as possible.
- Pawlicy Advisor can help you compare pet insurance plans from top providers to find the best fit for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does dog dental cleaning cost?
Dog teeth cleanings cost between __ depending on a number of factors including the condition of your pet's oral health and the rates of your veterinarian's practice.
How often do I need to get my dogs teeth cleaned?
Vet recommend professional dental cleanings for dogs once a year as part of a routine care plan. This helps ensure your veterinarian can detect the onset of gum disease early on and recommend a treatment plan before it significantly worsens.
Are routine teeth cleanings included in pet insurance?
Most of the time, dental cleanings for dogs and cats are considered preventative care and therefore do not classify for coverage under traditional accidental/illness plans. However, most pet insurance providers offer supplementary pet wellness plans you add on for extra coverage, including the cost of routine cleanings.
How often should I brush my dog's teeth at home?
It's a great idea to brush your dog's teeth at home to prevent plaque and tartar build-up. This helps them maintain good oral hygiene and minimizes the deep cleaning required during annual dentistry, which can be uncomfortable.
Does pet insurance cover dental care?
Some, but not all, pet insurance plans cover dental treatments related to illnesses, such as tooth infection and gum disease, as well as dental injuries due to accident. However, no pet insurance covers pre-existing conditions, including dental diseases that are known to develop in 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by age three. That's why it's important to enroll in pet insurance while your animal is young.