INDIANAPOLIS - While the dentist is a regular stop for healthy humans, dog owners should also consider taking their four-legged friends in for yearly cleanings, experts say.
Just like in humans, plaque and gingivitis left untreated can prompt serious health problems for dogs, and not just bad breath.
"If pets develop painful dental conditions or inflammatory conditions, like periodontal disease, it can affect their internal organ function," said Dr. Matthew Lemmons with Indianapolis' Circle City Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital.
Tooth cleaning includes scraping tarter and X-rays. Pets are typically put under for the procedure.
The cost of the cleaning depends on what all vets find.
"It can be anywhere from $200 to $800, depending on the extensive nature of the work that needs to be done," said Angie Hicks with Angie's List.
But experts stress that regular brushing at home can cut costs at the doggie dentist.
Sandi Lehr has trouble brushing the teeth of her 9-year-old dog, Harvey, but says she makes a point to take him to the dentist every year.
"Since he's a senior dog, he really needs to have his teeth cleaned every year," Lehr said.
Dog owners who notice their pet has bad breath, missing teeth or red gums are encouraged to see their vet about a possible cleaning.