Dog Tooth Extraction: Procedure and Costs

There’s nothing like a goofy grin from your favorite canine. But there’s a lot more lurking behind your dog’s pearly whites than you might imagine. And if you aren’t careful, this silent threat could lead to a dog tooth extraction…giving your pup less to smile about. 

According to pet insurance data, dental disease in dogs ranks among the top 10 most common reasons dogs visit the veterinarian. [1] And between 80 to 90 percent of dogs age three or older have active periodontal disease. [2] 

Even if you’re feeling confident in your dog’s dental health, tooth extraction may still be in your future, as canines’ canines often become more fragile with age.

Here’s what you need to know about dog tooth extraction, including what the procedure entails, what it could cost you, and how to help your pet recover.

Reasons Dogs Need Their Teeth Removed

We all know how important tooth brushing is for our own dental health. And dog teeth are no different…except for the fact that dogs can’t break out the toothbrush and toothpaste to do the task themselves. That means it’s up to us to brush their teeth daily.

While that can be a challenge — especially if your dog isn’t the biggest fan of toothbrushing — slacking off could eventually lead to even bigger, costlier challenges. 

That’s because daily brushing helps remove soft plaque from your dog’s teeth. If that builds up, hardened tartar below the gumline can produce bacteria, causing gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis (erosion of the bone and structure that hold teeth in place).

This cycle of inflammation, infection, and bone loss is called periodontal disease. As it progresses, it can lead to dental pain, tooth abscesses, and loss of bone support around the tooth roots. No amount of brushing can reverse the damage, and the best option to relieve pain and prevent further complications is to extract the tooth.

Progression of dental disease is the most common reason dogs need teeth extracted. However, it’s not the only one. Here are several other causes pet parents should know about.

Fractured or broken teeth – In dogs, fractured teeth are most often caused by chewing on inappropriately hard objects, such as elk antlers, marrow bones, or even the metal wires of their crate. Though less common, dental trauma can also cause teeth to break. This can happen if your pet bites a moving object or experiences blunt force trauma to the face or jaw. 

In either case, if the pulp of the tooth is exposed by the fracture or breakage, extraction might be necessary to prevent infection. 

Deciduous teeth – A dog’s baby teeth normally fall out by the time they are 6 months old. However, in some dogs (normally smaller breed dogs) these teeth do not fall out on their own. This can lead to tooth crowding and misalignment, known as dental or skeletal malocclusion, which can cause trauma to both gums and teeth. To prevent such damage and the potential for premature dental disease, these retained deciduous teeth often need to be extracted. 

Oral tumors – A number of oral tumors are common in dogs. These oral tumors can arise from several different cell types. Epithelial (or skin) cells, bone cells, fibrous cells, and others can become cancerous. Surgical removal of the tumor is usually the first part of treatment for these tumors, with some tumors requiring radiation or further chemotherapy for local control. The teeth within or surrounding the tumor must inevitably be extracted.

Orthodontic abnormalities – Just like humans, sometimes dogs have teeth where they don’t belong. This can be caused by retained deciduous teeth, as described above. Or it can be a function of breed. For example, brachycephalic dogs often do not have enough room in their mouths for all their teeth. 

These abnormalities can cause pain when pets bite down if their errant teeth hit soft tissue. Extraction may be required to remove the specific teeth causing the issues.

Dog Tooth Extraction Procedure: What to Expect

It’s easy to get stressed out if your veterinarian recommends a tooth extraction for your dog. However, extraction is often preferable to the alternative. If broken or diseased teeth go untreated, your dog could be in for increased pain, more severe infection, or even systemic complications from dental bacteria entering the bloodstream and impacting other organs. 

So, to help ease any concerns you have about dog tooth extractions, here’s a helpful overview outlining what to expect from the procedure. 

Dog tooth extractions typically begin the same way that a routine dog dental cleaning would — with your pet placed under general anesthesia.

Note, though some providers advertise “anesthesia-free” or “non-anesthesia” cleanings for pets, veterinary dental specialist Dr. Brook Niemiec, DVM, advises against them. Not only is the practice less effective than anesthetized dental cleanings, but Dr. Niemiec says it could also be considered inhumane. Humans can understand what’s going on at the dentist’s office and psychologically cope with the pain, but dogs cannot.

Once safely under anesthesia, the veterinarian will clean your dog’s teeth with an ultrasonic scaler and then take dental radiographs (X-rays) to help determine which teeth, if any, need extracting. 

This is based on a number of factors, including evaluating the depth of any periodontal pockets with a dental probe, as well as X-ray imagery.

Proper veterinary dentistry cannot be performed without dental radiographs. Because most of the tooth structure is hidden beneath the gumline, radiographs are necessary to “see” and evaluate the root and bone structure underneath.

If the radiographs reveal anything concerning, such as bone loss surrounding the teeth, root tip abscesses, or abnormalities in the crown or root of a tooth, your veterinarian is likely to extract the affected tooth.

To do this, your vet may inject a local anesthetic such as lidocaine or ropivacaine into the oral cavity to help temporarily block pain and sensation. Then they’ll lift the gum away from the affected tooth using a periosteal elevator to provide access to the roots. 

Your veterinarian may then use a high-speed dental drill to remove bone, then separate the affected tooth from the tissue, and extract it using luxating dental elevators. To close the gum incision, vets typically use absorbable sutures which dissolve within a few weeks. 

From beginning to end, dental extractions can last anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour. The length of the procedure depends on the location of the affected tooth, the amount of bone loss, and the severity of the dental disease. 

Generally, this process is an outpatient procedure. However, in some cases, the veterinarian might suggest overnight observation.

Cost of Dog Tooth Extraction

Dog tooth extraction costs can certainly vary. The extraction costs will be in addition to the cost of a regular dental cleaning, which is necessary prior to extraction. Factors include the number of teeth extracted, which teeth are extracted, dog breed, and geographic location. 

On average, the additional costs can range from $100 to upwards of $2,000 in some areas.

Pet parents seeking help with the costs of dog tooth extraction may want to consider a CareCredit health and pet care credit card, which allows you to pay over time with flexible financing options* so you’re always ready to get the care your pet needs.

You can also consider applying for financial assistance from funds that provide financial aid to help pet parents cover the cost of veterinary care. Many of these organizations require proof that you have applied and been denied other financing options.

Pet insurance is also a great option that some owners may already have in place for their pets. Check with your specific insurance company to see which parts of the dental procedure are covered. Some may only cover the cleaning, while others may cover part or all of the extraction costs. 

Alternatives to Dog Tooth Extraction

In some cases, if your veterinarian believes the function of the tooth could be preserved, they may recommend an alternative to dog tooth extraction.

For example, in cases of tooth fracture, if the tooth’s structure is not too damaged and the treatment can happen very soon after the trauma, a root canal may be an appropriate alternative to a full tooth extraction.

Though less invasive than an extraction, a root canal would require a visit to a dental specialist. The procedure would likely cost more than an extraction, but the benefit for the pet would be that the tooth is saved. 

Tooth capping is another alternative to extraction that a veterinary dentist might suggest in certain situations. If your dog has a broken tooth but no internal decay or damage, capping can protect and preserve the tooth. 

Doing nothing is never a viable alternative If your vet recommends a dog tooth extraction for your pet. Inaction can only lead to increased pain and suffering for your dog and may even cause them to stop eating, which could prove fatal.  

Dog Tooth Removal Recovery

Recovery and Pain Management

After any procedure requiring general anesthesia, including a tooth extraction, dogs may appear groggy for 24 to 48 hours. Rest is crucial during this time. Your veterinarian will prescribe a pain management medication, such as NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory), to ensure comfort. In some cases, veterinarians may prescribe an antibiotic post-procedure, depending on their preference. 

Pet parents don’t need to do anything to care for the extraction site during recovery. Your main responsibility is to make sure your dog takes any medications prescribed and gets rest so they can heal quickly.

What Can a Dog Eat After a Tooth Extraction?

It’s normal for dogs to show little (if any) interest in food following their anesthetic procedure. To encourage their appetite, offer several small meals throughout the day and only soft foods in the days following the extraction.

Canned foods are a good choice, or you could soak your pet’s dry food in a small amount of water. You can also feed them something bland like boiled chicken and rice. 

Always consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations. Soft food should be fed for a minimum of 1 week if not 14 days. This will give the extraction site plenty of time to heal. 

Healing Time for a Dog Tooth Extraction

The initial recovery can take a few days, but complete healing — especially in the case of senior dog tooth extractions — may take a couple of weeks. 

Monitor your pet’s eating and drinking. If you see any facial swelling, pawing at the mouth, or excessive amounts of blood in their water bowl, you should contact your veterinarian immediately for further instructions. 

FAQs About Dog Dental Extraction

Do dogs need antibiotics after a tooth extraction?

Normally, antibiotics aren’t needed after extraction, as the infected site is either left open to heal or is flushed prior to suturing. However, depending on the veterinarian’s preference, antibiotics may be prescribed for your pet. 

Are dogs in pain after a tooth extraction?

Just like any surgical procedure, tooth extractions do temporarily cause pain for your pet. However, pre-operative local oral blocks, post-operative pain injections, and NSAIDs after surgery can help to decrease your pet’s pain. With appropriate pain management, your pet should be back to feeling normal within 2 to 3 days. 

Can dogs eat after a tooth extraction?

Yes, but soft food is recommended for several days following the procedure. Consider canned foot, soaking dry food in a small amount of water, or feeding something bland and soft, like boiled chicken and rice.

Does dog insurance cover tooth extractions?

Some pet insurance policies might cover extractions. Check with your provider for specific information about your pet’s policy.

Tooth extraction in dogs plays a pivotal role in promoting their overall health and well-being. Just like in humans, a compromised tooth can lead to severe pain, infection, and systemic health issues in our canine companions. Untreated dental problems can spread bacteria to vital organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys, thereby endangering their life. 

By proceeding with tooth extraction when recommended by a veterinarian and providing appropriate after-care, pet parents not only help alleviate immediate discomfort and pain for their pets but also thwart potential long-term health complications. 

As part of a comprehensive veterinary care regimen, timely dental interventions, including extractions, ensure our furry friends lead comfortable, healthier, and happier lives.

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  1. “Dermatitis, Otitis Externa Continue to Top Common Conditions That Prompt Veterinary Visits.” Nationwide Newsroom, Nationwide Mutual Insurance, 13 Apr. 2023, 
  2. “Periodontal Disease.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Belvoir Media Group, 16 Oct. 2023,

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