What to Expect After a Dog Teeth Cleaning

After your dog gets their teeth cleaned, you can expect them to be groggy and require a lot of sleep after bringing them home. Make sure your dog has plenty of water and provide antibiotics if any teeth were pulled.

If this is your dog’s first professional teeth cleaning, you probably have many questions about aftercare.

Below we’ll tell you what to expect after the procedure, what happens before and during the procedure, and how to keep your dog’s teeth healthy all year long.

After the Cleaning

Your vet should give you detailed instructions about taking care of your dog after his teeth cleaning, so if you’re unsure of anything, be sure to check with them.

Most dogs can go home the same day as their cleaning.

Some dogs are recommended to be put on kennel rest following the procedure – your vet should tell you if this is the case.

Expect Grogginess

Your dog will be groggy from the anesthesia after surgery, so be prepared to see him looking drowsy and out of it.

This is completely normal and will wear off after a few hours. Make sure he has a warm, comfortable place to rest while the drugs wear off.

He will likely be back to his normal energy levels by the evening. If he hasn’t rebounded by the next morning, call your vet and let them know.

Lots of Sleep

Your dog just had a stressful morning and doesn’t know what happened. In addition to that, he’s recovering from the anesthesia, so he might need a good long nap.

Make sure he has an area where he can sleep undisturbed for several hours after the cleaning, especially if you have children.

Not all dogs need to sleep the anesthesia off, but it’s best to plan around him needing a nap if you can.

Food and Water

Your vet should tell you when to feed your dog after the procedure, what kind of food, and how much. This can mean:

  • A small meal two hours after getting home
  • Wet food for the first few days (either canned wet food or kibble soaked in water)
  • Antibiotics if any teeth were pulled
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While the anesthetic wears off, a lack of appetite is normal, but if it continues, it may be a sign that something’s wrong.


Although complications after dental cleaning are very rare, if it’s possible to stay home with your dog for the first day or two after the procedure, you may consider it.

This way, you can keep an eye out for signs that something’s not right, like:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swollen gums or eyes
  • Not chewing on toys as usual
  • Pawing at face
  • Trying to keep you from touching his face
  • Whining and crying
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding gums

Post-Op Appointment

Depending on what they did during the cleaning and whether the dog needed extra work done, the vet may recommend a post-op checkup about ten days after the procedure.

Before the Appointment

Before the professional cleaning, your vet will examine the dog, either during his yearly checkup or due to suspected dental issues.

You’ll then make an appointment for the procedure, and the vet should give you information about how to prepare for it.

Communicate Clearly

Although your vet should have an idea of how healthy your dog’s teeth look before the procedure, it will be impossible to tell until a full examination and x-rays are done during the cleaning.

Make sure you communicate with the staff beforehand and find out what their process is for notifying you in advance about additional costly procedures such as fillings and extractions.

Some clinics won’t add on additional procedures without your approval, but others will tell you after the fact and present you with a higher bill than you expected.

Now is also a good time to make sure they have the best way to reach you in case of an emergency during the surgery (which is rare, but possible).

Withhold Food and Water

Depending on your dog, the type of anesthetic the vet will use, and the appointment time, the vet may ask you to withhold food and possibly water the night before the procedure to reduce the chances of the dog throwing up.

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The Teeth Cleaning Process

A Professional canine teeth cleaning process isn’t much different than one for humans, the main difference being that dogs are put to sleep during their cleaning.

Humans are much less likely to squirm and bite, so most of us can get through cleanings without the use of anesthetics.

The vet will first do a full exam to determine the dog’s dental health, including teeth and gums.

She will then do an x-ray to check for potential issues below the gum line that she may not see during the exam.

Once this is done, she will scrape off the plaque and tartar buildup on the dog’s teeth, both above and below the gum line.

If extractions or fillings are needed, the vet will usually take care of these all at once, rather than making multiple appointments and risk putting the dog to sleep more times than necessary.

Once the procedure is finished, the dog will be put in a quiet recovery area where he will be kept warm as he wakes up and waits for you to pick him up.

Regular Dental Care

Getting professional dental cleaning is important, but so is the day-to-day care.

Brush Regularly

Not everyone realizes how important it is to brush your dog’s teeth regularly.

Although they don’t need to be brushed daily, several times a week is the minimum if you’re serious about maintaining your dog’s dental health.

There are toothbrushes specially designed for dogs, one that looks similar to a human toothbrush and one that slips over a fingertip.

Never use human toothpaste for a dog, as the ingredients are toxic. Instead, use a toothpaste formulated for canines, which often come in flavors like peanut butter and chicken.

Food and Treats

Dry food is better for dogs’ teeth than wet food, although older dogs with chewing difficulty might have to switch to wet food.

There is kibble specially formulated to be good for dental health, but it’s usually unnecessary unless your dog is prone to dental problems.

Some dog food additives, which you can sprinkle on top of their meal, can help improve dental health as well.

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Some treats remove plaque and freshen breath, though these aren’t replacements for regular brushing.

Dental Toys

Besides dental-friendly treats, there are plenty of dental-friendly toys on the market designed to encourage chewing and aid tartar removal.

These are especially good for dogs who are heavy chewers.

Signs of Trouble

In addition to a yearly checkup and cleaning, it’s important to stay on top of your dog’s dental health.

Oral health can affect many other areas of a dog’s wellness, and bacteria from periodontal disease can make its way into the bloodstream and affect the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Signs of dental issues in dogs are:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Trouble eating, dropping food
  • Pain when chewing
  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Obvious signs of yellowing and plaque
  • Chipped or cracked teeth

If your dog has any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your vet right away to get any problems under control before they get worse.

Final Thoughts

For most dogs, getting a yearly teeth cleaning is no big deal, and they recover within a few hours of the procedure.

As with all aspects of canine health, regular dental maintenance is more important than fixing problems once they start.

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