Dog Tooth Extraction Recovery

Christina Fernandez, DVM, DACVECC
By Christina Fernandez, DVM, DACVECC on Jul. 27, 2021

If your dog has dental disease, their veterinarian may recommend a complete oral health evaluation under anesthesia. Because your pet will be asleep, your vet can more easily evaluate the full extent of your dog’s oral cavity health and determine the care that’s needed, which may include tooth extractions. 

A complete oral health evaluation usually involves:  

  • Looking for masses, charting missing teeth, noting abnormalities

  • Probing your dog’s teeth and gumline

  • Taking x-rays to further visualize the teeth and their roots, located under the bone 

  • Removal (extraction) of any diseased teeth and tissue

  • Cleaning, scaling, and polishing healthy teeth

How to Care for Your Dog After Tooth Extraction

To avoid complications, your vet will give you specific recommendations for what your pet can eat after their tooth extraction surgery. They may also give you pain medication that you will need to administer.

Feeding Your Dog After a Tooth Extraction 

Your veterinarian may recommend feeding your dog soft foods (or moistening their kibble) for several days post-surgery. Ask your veterinarian if there are special feeding instructions you should follow during the recovery period, and for how long. 

Your vet may also suggest starting a new diet specifically formulated to manage your dog’s dental health. Whatever your vet recommends, be sure to follow their specific feeding instructions to encourage healing and prevent unnecessary pain. 

Pain Medication for Dogs After Dental Surgery

Numbing agents may have been injected into your dog’s mouth to control pain during anesthesia. Those local blocks can last anywhere from 6-24 hours, depending on what was used. You will likely be instructed to follow up by giving your dog oral pain medication at home. 

Monitor your dog’s tooth extraction recovery closely and watch for signs of pain. These can include: 

  • Whining or whimpering

  • Drooling

  • Pawing at the mouth

  • Refusal of food

  • Lethargy (moving slowly, sluggish)

Some of these signs can also be the effects of the anesthesia or pain medication that you are giving to your dog at home. 

If you notice these signs and are giving the medication as directed, call your vet to ask for the next best steps. Do not stop giving medications unless instructed by your dog’s veterinarian.

Stitches and Gum Tissue

The stitches used to close the gum tissue after a dog tooth extraction are often dissolvable. Stitches can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to dissolve, depending on the type of material used. They may start to dissolve to where you can’t see them in your dog’s mouth, but they are still present on the inside of tissue until the material is completely broken down. 

In some cases, gum tissue is left open to drain and heal. The mouth heals fairly quickly in most cases, but each dog will be different.

Dog Tooth Extraction Complications

If the tissue becomes infected, you might notice these symptoms: 

  • A foul odor from your dog’s mouth

  • Slight swelling on the lower or upper jawline, or under the eye area

  • Food refusal

  • Drainage from the nose or mouth

  • General sluggishness

Even though antibiotics may have been sent home as part of surgery aftercare, you should check in with your dog’s veterinarian if you notice any of these signs. 

Preventing Dog Tooth Extractions

Depending on your dog’s oral health, your veterinarian may make suggestions to reduce plaque accumulation in the future. Ask your vet for the right time to start these after your dog’s dental procedure.

These may include: 

Christina Fernandez, DVM, DACVECC


Christina Fernandez, DVM, DACVECC

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