Oral hygiene is an often-overlooked but still super important factor in your dog’s overall health. A toothache, sore gums, or bacteria can cause things like infections, pain, and stress. Left untreated, it can begin to affect their heart, kidneys or liver.
If you’re going to have a healthy dog, you need to address their teeth and gums too. Dental care is not always easy, and certainly not cheap. Here’s how we dealt with it in New York City.
Getting Your Dog a Dental in NYC
Adopting a puppy mill rescue meant we had a chihuahua with a mouth full of rotten teeth and breath that smelled like rotting trash. Boogie also needed a cleaning, since he was a few years old and also a rescue with an unhealthy past. Our vet recommended that both dogs get the procedure done.
Dentals are more than just a one-stop-shop type of procedure. They require a check up, blood work, and anesthesia. After calling around to a few recommended vets in the New York City area, we realized that when all was said and done (extractions, lab work, etc.) we’d be looking at a $1,200+ price tag…per dog.
The stress of putting our two dogs under, going through all of the necessary steps, and paying the steep price were a bit much. There had to be another way. Enter the Humane Society.
The Humane Society
The Human Society is a nonprofit that is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization. They provide direct care to more than 100,000 animals each year—more than any other animal welfare organization—through their sanctuaries, veterinary programs and emergency shelters and rescues.
The Humane Society of NY has been in NYC for over 100 years. They were founded to protect the city’s horses against abuse, but have greatly expanded to provide services like affordable medical care, a free Spay/Neuter Program, an adoption center for cats and dogs, and more. They’re located at 306 E 59th St and their telephone number is (212) 752-4842. Their clinic is open 7 days a week, from 8:30am to 4:00pm. They offer low cost, quality care to dogs with the help of volunteers.
The Wait List
The doggy dentist performs dentals 4 – 5 days a week, and works on four dogs per day. Sessions get booked up super quickly. That means you might not get an appointment until months later. The Humane Society uses a list to assign dental appointments.
Important: you must have your name on the list to get an appointment.
Here’s how it works: call or email them to get your name on the list. If you are a new client and have never been to the Human Society before, your name will automatically be put at the end of the list. The wait time fluctuates, but expect to wait a period of several months (like 10-12 months) to get an appointment. If you have been to the Humane Society before, you will get preference, meaning you won’t have to wait as long.
Important: The Humane Society does not call you when a spot opens up. You must call them to see if there are any openings – it’s luck of the draw. They recommend calling every few weeks to see if there’s a spot.
Keep in mind that service is not as quick as if you’re dealing with a regular vet office because they’re a non-profit that runs with the help of volunteers.
Make the Call
You can get in contact with them via phone, email, or voicemail, but you can only make an appointment by speaking directly with a HSNY representative, so we recommend calling. I called many times, with varying wait times to get through. Sometimes I got through right away, and sometimes I didn’t. My tactic became to call, press the necessary buttons, put the phone on speaker, and do something mindless, like wash the dishes, while waiting for someone to pick up the line. It also helps to call at unpopular times. Once through, I was told various times that the sessions were fully booked and I’d have to wait until the next month to try again.
Be persistent, and keep calling! Put a reminder in your calendar every 3 – 6 weeks to call again.
You’ve Got a Spot! Now What?
If there’s an open spot available, then you’ll be given two appointment dates: one for a dental, and one that’s 2 – 3 weeks before your dental for a regular exam. The regular exam includes blood work, and is done to be sure that your dog is healthy enough to be put under. Both dates will be scheduled during your call. Have your credit card on hand, because you will be expected to pay for both the dental and the exam up front. Also have your calendar open to pick a date that works for you.
The cost of the dental is a flat fee of $300. This includes any extractions needed, so you won’t have to pay any extra fees for the dental itself. The cost of the exam is $40, so your payment to the Humane Society up front will be $340. You will have to pay for the blood work the day of, which is usually around $80-$133, depending on your dog’s needs and age.
Be aware that payment is non-refundable and non-transferable.
Our last dentals at the Humane Society cost us $421 per dog – that’s $842 all together for both. Here’s the break down:
- $300 per dental (x2)
- $40 per exam (x2)
- $81 for blood work (x2)
That’s a huge savings!
Pros and Cons
The pros for getting your dog a dental at the Humane Society are:
- Quality care: The Humane Society has amazing vets that provide top notch care for animals.
- Price: Their affordable dentals cost less than half of what dentals cost in other animal hospitals in NYC. This is great, especially if you have multiple dogs.
The cons for getting your dog a dental at the Humane Society are:
- Wait time: You’ll most likely have to wait months to get your dogs dental scheduled.
- Constant Calling: You might have to call a few times before you’re able to secure an appointment. Be persistent!
In my opinion, the pros certainly outweigh the cons. Our dogs have each had two dentals done at the Humane Society and we’ve had great experiences with all four procedures. While it’s annoying to have to call and stay on top of things, it’s a small price to pay for saving well over $2,000.
Remember though, is not the place should your dog need emergency dental care, and there will always be a wait.
If you’re thinking of getting your dog a dental at the Humane Society,
- Use their services at least once, for something like a routine exam, so you won’t be considered a new patient when it’s time for a dental and be put at the very back of the list.
- Email them to be put on the waiting list – it’s faster than calling.
- Set reminders in your calendar to call every 3 – 6 weeks and see if a spot has opened up.
- Always have your credit card within arms reach when you call, just in case you are able to book your appointments.
- Have your calendar up so you can schedule a date!
- Your dog must be spayed or neutered, or you must have a plan to spay/neuter them in order to get a dental.
Have you ever gotten your dog a dental? How much did it cost? We’d love to hear!
Learn more about dog-friendly NYC here.