If you’ve noticed your dog coughing after a dental cleaning, you’re likely concerned about whether this is normal or something to worry about.

Dental health is a crucial aspect of overall wellness for dogs, and regular dental cleanings are essential for preventing issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and even more systemic health problems. However, it’s not uncommon for some dogs to exhibit mild coughing following these procedures.

This can often be attributed to normal responses to the cleaning process itself, such as throat irritation from the tubes used during anesthesia or a mild inflammatory reaction.

Although seeing your dog cough can be unsettling, understanding the nuances between harmless post-procedural coughs and symptoms that may indicate a more significant health issue is key to ensuring your pet’s health and peace of mind.


Why Dogs May Cough After Dental Cleaning

Overview of Dental Cleaning Procedures

A dental cleaning for a dog typically involves more than just scraping plaque off the teeth. To ensure a thorough cleaning and to protect the dog’s and veterinarian’s safety, the procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia.

During this process, a tube is placed in the dog’s throat to aid breathing, which can sometimes lead to irritation.

The cleaning includes scaling to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line, followed by polishing to smooth out the surfaces of the teeth, which helps prevent subsequent plaque buildup.

Common Causes of Coughing Post-Cleaning

Coughing after dental cleaning can occur for several reasons:

  • Anesthesia-related Irritation: The endotracheal tube used to deliver anesthesia can irritate the trachea (windpipe), leading to temporary coughing.
  • Mild Throat Inflammation: Manipulation during the cleaning process can cause mild inflammation in the throat or the upper airway.
  • Reaction to Medications: Occasionally, dogs might react to anesthetics or other medications administered during the procedure.

Distinction Between Normal and Abnormal Coughing

Understanding the difference between normal and abnormal coughing is crucial:

Normal Coughing:

This is typically mild and short-lived, occurring right after the procedure and resolving within a few hours to a couple of days. This coughing is usually soft, infrequent, and not accompanied by any other signs of distress or illness.

Abnormal Coughing:

If the cough is persistent, worsens over time, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, excessive drooling, difficulty breathing, or bleeding, it may indicate a more serious condition, such as a bacterial infection, or in rare cases, damage to the trachea. In these instances, it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Recognizing these signs and understanding when coughing is a normal response to dental cleaning and when it indicates potential complications can help ensure your dog recovers quickly and comfortably.

How to Care for a Dog After Dental Cleaning


Proper post-operative care is crucial to ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery for your dog after a dental cleaning.

Here’s how you can help your pet navigate the recovery period effectively:

Immediate Post-Care Tips

  1. Rest and Recovery: After coming home from the vet, your dog will likely still be under the effects of anesthesia. Provide a quiet, comfortable space away from noise and activity to allow your pet to rest undisturbed.
  2. Food and Water: Follow your vet’s instructions regarding food and water. Some dogs can eat normally soon after the procedure, while others might require a soft diet for a few days. This depends on the extent of dental work done. Introduce food and water gradually and monitor your dog’s ability to eat and drink without discomfort.
  3. Handling Medications: Your vet may prescribe pain relievers, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medications. Administer these as directed, and don’t hesitate to contact your vet if you’re unsure about the dosage or frequency.

Monitoring for Complications

While complications from dental cleanings are rare, it’s important to be vigilant during the recovery period:

  • Persistent Coughing: As noted earlier, mild coughing shortly after the procedure can be normal; however, if the coughing persists or worsens, it might be a sign of infection or tracheal irritation.
  • Bleeding: Some minor bleeding might be noticed immediately after the cleaning, especially if tooth extractions were performed. However, ongoing or heavy bleeding is not normal and should prompt a call to your vet.
  • Behavior Changes: Watch for signs of excessive lethargy, refusal to eat, signs of pain, or changes in behavior. These could indicate complications requiring veterinary attention.

Comfort Measures

Making your dog comfortable after dental cleaning can help speed up recovery:

  • Soft Bedding: Ensure your dog has a comfortable, soft place to rest that supports its head and body.
  • Warmth and Quiet: Keep the environment warm and quiet as your dog recovers from the effects of anesthesia.
  • Gentle Affection: Offer gentle affection to reassure your pet, but avoid vigorous play or unnecessary stress.
  • Regular Check-ups: Monitor the healing process and keep in touch with your vet. If you notice any abnormalities in your dog’s mouth or behavior, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure your dog recovers quickly and with minimal discomfort after a dental cleaning.

Always keep in close communication with your vet during the post-care period to address any concerns that may arise.



Is it normal for my dog to cough only once or twice after teeth cleaning?

Yes, it’s relatively normal for dogs to cough a few times immediately after dental cleaning. This can be a reaction to the anesthesia or a minor irritation caused by the endotracheal tube used during the procedure.

Typically, this should not be a cause for concern if the coughing stops shortly after the procedure.

How long should coughing last after dental cleaning before it’s considered abnormal?

Coughing that persists for more than 24-48 hours after dental cleaning can be considered abnormal, especially if it’s frequent or severe. If your dog continues to cough beyond this timeframe, consult your veterinarian to rule out any complications or underlying conditions.

What should I do if my dog starts coughing several days after the procedure?

If coughing begins several days after a dental cleaning, it could be indicative of an infection or other health issues. It’s important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. They may need to examine your dog, potentially adjust medications, or take further diagnostic steps.

Can coughing after teeth cleaning indicate an allergy to anesthesia or medications used?

While it’s less common, coughing can sometimes be a reaction to anesthesia or other medications used during dental cleaning. Allergic reactions can also manifest as swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing. If you suspect an allergic reaction, immediate veterinary care is crucial.

Are there any preventive measures to reduce the risk of coughing after dental care?

To minimize the risk of coughing:

  • Ensure that your veterinarian is aware of your dog’s medical history and any prior reactions to anesthesia.
  • Follow the pre-operative and post-operative care instructions provided by your vet carefully.
  • Keep your dog calm and quiet after the procedure to help reduce the risk of irritation or injury to the throat.


Dental health is a vital part of your dog’s overall well-being. While mild coughing right after dental cleaning can occur due to normal reactions to anesthesia or the procedure itself, it’s important to monitor your pet for any signs that fall outside of the expected range.

Persistent, worsening, or delayed coughing can signal a more serious issue and should prompt a visit to the veterinarian.

Remember, the key to a successful recovery and overall health is adherence to the care instructions provided by your veterinarian.

Regular check-ups and cleanings are essential, not only to maintain dental health but also to prevent potential complications. By staying vigilant and proactive about your dog’s dental care, you can help ensure they remain happy and healthy for years to come.

Doctor Xeeshan

Doctor Xeeshan

I am Doctor Xeeshan, located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. In this blog, I am providing authentic information about dog breeds, diseases, medications, etc.


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