Question: Why Is My Dog Acting Strange After a Teeth Cleaning?

Pet Care


July 2, 2023

Just like humans, dogs need regular teeth-cleaning by professionals to enjoy excellent oral health for a lifetime.

Also like humans, having their teeth cleaned can make dogs anxious and nervous, which is why anesthesia is usually used on them during the procedure.

If you find your dog is acting strange after their teeth are cleaned, there could be several reasons for it. The first and most obvious is the anesthesia itself, but there are other possibilities as well. Keep reading to get the information you need if this has happened to you.

Why Is My Dog Acting Strange After a Teeth Cleaning?

So, you’ve had your dog’s teeth cleaned by the pros and now the dog is acting differently and unlike they usually do. You’re right to wonder why and to be concerned, but in most cases there’s nothing for you to worry about.

Let’s start with anesthesia. They have to give dogs enough anesthesia to last through the procedure, so it doesn’t wear off quickly in most cases.

In fact, it could take 12-24 hours for the anesthesia to wear off completely. Anesthesia is used so that dogs don’t experience anxiety or stress during the procedure, and it allows the vet workers to be able to reach every single tooth in the dog’s mouth without rushing.

Most humans don’t get anesthetized for teeth-cleaning, but it is usually a good idea for dogs and other animals.

Of course, there are other reasons why your dog might be acting differently after getting its teeth cleaned, and below are some of the most common ones:

1.  The Dog Is Tired

Not only anesthesia, but also the procedure itself can wear your dog out and make them tired for up to 10-12 hours after they are discharged.

It simply takes time for the dog to feel relaxed and rested again, but this isn’t abnormal. Just make sure your dog gets lots of extra rest for about a day after they get their teeth cleaned so that they can get back to their normal selves again.

2.  The Dog Is Uncomfortable

Being physically uncomfortable after dogs get their teeth cleaned is not unusual. It’s normal for their mouths and gums to be uncomfortable, but they can have discomfort in their muscles as well, due to the positions their bodies are in during the cleaning itself.

During this time, they may bark more than usual or even become aggressive. They can also stop eating for a while.

This is often a sign that they are uncomfortable, and it can last for 12-16 hours after they come home. The best thing to do is be patient, let them rest, and give them some extra attention until their behavior starts to change.

3.  The Dog Is Still in Some Pain

After the anesthesia wears off, it’s normal for your dog to be in pain. Even if you give your dog the pain medication given to you by the veterinarian, it is normal for the dog to feel pain at some point during the day.

To lessen the pain throughout the day, give the dog the medication on a regular basis so that the pain is kept to a minimum.

In other words, if you’re supposed to give them the medication every six hours, don’t wait six-and-a-half or seven hours – or longer – before giving them the next dose.

Read the instructions carefully so you’ll know when to give them the next dose, and set a timer if you need to remember so they don’t have to suffer anymore than necessary.

4.  The Dog Is Stressed or Anxious

Memories of the procedure can come back to haunt your dog, causing them to have anxiety over it later on in the day.

Even though they were put to sleep for the procedure itself, the time before and after the procedure will still be in their memory. This can cause them to be very anxious, stressed out, nervous, and fidgety. Give them frequent treats and let them rest to get over it.

5.  The Dog Is Lethargic

Simply put, the procedure and the anesthesia may have zapped your dog of a lot of energy, so they can be beyond exhausted. This is normal and nothing to worry about, and the best thing you can do is give your pet some extra TLC and allow them to take all the naps they want. They need rest at this point, and giving them opportunities for rest is a smart thing to do.

When Should You Contact Your Vet?

You know your dog’s behavior better than anyone. While these things are very common when a dog has had its teeth cleaned, if you notice anything else that seems out-of-the-ordinary, you should call your vet.

If there is even a hint that something might be wrong, call your vet. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health and happiness of your beloved pet.


Dogs can act differently after they have their teeth cleaned, and part of the reason could be the anesthesia that’s used.

Because of the anesthesia and the procedure itself, dogs can be lethargic, in pain, exhausted, uncomfortable, or even stressed and anxious. For the most part, this is nothing to worry about, but none of those should last for very long.

If your dog isn’t acting or feeling better after 24-48 hours, it’s time to give your vet a call. You should also place the call if you feel as though there is something wrong at any point.