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What to Do the Night Before a Dog Dental Cleaning?

German Shepherd on an exam table with a person in scrubs, wearing a stethoscope, scrubbing the dog's teeth with a toothbrush

Just like humans, dogs can have also dental diseases because of tartar and plaque. Therefore, it’s important to keep your dog’s teeth clean to avoid serious health problems. In some cases, dental cleanings are needed for better health and your pup will have to be put under anesthesia. Owners will need to take certain precautions before this procedure to ensure a smooth experience. Keep reading to know more about how you should prepare your dog the night before a dental cleaning.

How to Prepare Your Dog the Night Before a Dental Cleaning?

Pets are very good at hiding pain or discomfort. Dogs have mastered this art and do quite well at hiding all sorts of problems, including dental pain. However, dental cleaning becomes extremely important for them in specific situations and the owners should prepare them well for the procedure. The following are some critical steps that may need to be taken the night before, even days before a dental cleaning for your dog.

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Preliminary Dental Exam

Vet examining a Jack Russell Terrier's teeth

Visit your dog’s veterinarian for a preliminary dental exam before having a dental cleaning. This examination is important for your dog, especially before going under anesthesia. It ensures that your dog is very much healthy for the procedure.

Based on the exam, the vet will estimate any heart murmurs or abnormalities. He/she may suggest chest radiographs or a cardiology consult which can uncover a problem that cannot be seen on visual examination. This dental exam will also scan the mucous membranes, especially for any signs of anemia.


Yellow lab holding an empty food bowl in its mouth

The owners need to make sure that their dogs don’t eat or drink anything before a dental cleaning. Most dogs should not eat or drink the night before a dental cleaning. However, a veterinarian may allow some pups to have water until the morning in some cases.

The fasting schedule may vary depending on the medications and medical conditions of your dog. However, the general rule of thumb is to fast completely (no food and water) for at least 12 hours before the cleaning. It will help to avoid vomiting while your dog is under sedation because it can cause serious problems.

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Provide Antibiotics

Teal and white capsules dropping onto a lighter teal background

Before having a dental cleaning, your dog mustn’t have any dental infections. Therefore, if your vet prescribes antibiotics, you should make sure your dog receives the antibiotics according to the veterinarian’s directions. Slight infections can be resolved by 1 or 2 doses provided you have a day (including night) before your dog’s dental cleaning.

On the other hand, dogs with severe dental infections or gingivitis may need to take antibiotics for a few days, and will need to begin a week or so before the procedure to avoid any complications.

Pre-anesthetic Blood Exertion

Gloved hands drawing blood from a dog

You may need some tests to determine the pre-anesthetic blood flow of your pooch. It is the safest method to confirm that your dog’s organs can handle the anesthesia. Checking the liver, kidney functions, and red blood cell count of your dog is necessary. These values work great in displaying whether your dog is ready to go under anesthesia or not.

Blood work is not mandatory for dogs who are under the age of 7. However, it is very crucial for senior or elderly dogs. This is because early detection of kidney or liver disease can ensure the smoothest possible sedation, anesthetic, and recovery. If the blood work displays abnormalities, the veterinarian will discuss all the possibilities before your dog is sedated.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for Anesthesia?

Golden retriever on an exam table, under anesthesia with a gloved hand patting its head

Anesthesia is an important part of most major surgeries, including dental cleaning. Therefore, your vet will give you a set of instructions to prepare your pooch for anesthesia. Some of these instructions are as follows.

No Food and Water  –  Do not provide any food to your dog after its sleeping time (9 to 10 PM) or the night before a dog dental procedure. Similarly, do not provide any water to your dog the night before the dental cleaning or the morning of the procedure depending on the dog’s medical condition.

Bath Your Dog – It is highly recommended to bathe your dog before going for a cleaning procedure. It reduces the chances of infection significantly because most of the harmful bacteria are washed away.

Check Existing Medications – If your pup is taking a medication, its last dose should be given 24 hours before the procedure. It will give a complete idea about whether your dog can handle anesthesia or not.

How Long Should a Dog Not Eat Before Dental Cleaning?

Yellow lab laying on hardwood floors next to an empty dog food bowl

Once it is confirmed that your dog is healthy enough for anesthesia, you can schedule a dental cleaning. Your dog should not be given any food (and must observe a complete fast) the night before the procedure. The dog must be fasting for at least 8-12 hours to prevent vomiting when he/she will undergo anesthesia.

Are Dental Cleanings Safe for All Dogs?

Poodle under anesthesia having its teeth cleaned.

Usually, dental cleanings and anesthesia are considered quite safe for canines. However, the exact answer to this question is heavily dependent on the health of your dog. If a dog is suffering from any illness, you should observe every possible precaution to lessen the risks associated with the procedure. It is highly recommended to discuss the condition of your pooch with your vet before making a decision.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.