4 Reasons for Dog Licking After Tooth Extraction + Care Tips

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Just recently, Molly (one of our dogs) had her tooth extracted at the vet’s office.

The vet said that I should keep an eye on her for about 24 hours after the procedure to make sure there was no sign of infection or excessive bleeding (which could indicate internal damage).

What I did not expect was to see her licking her lips excessively and seeing her in a state of discomfort.

So today I’m sharing with you what worked best and some post-surgery tips.

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Dear Dog Owner

Why is My Dog Licking After a Tooth Extraction?

Why is My Dog Licking After a Tooth Extraction?

If your dog is licking after it’s had a tooth extracted, it could be for one of the following reasons:

It is in pain

One of the reasons why your dog might lick excessively after tooth extraction may be because it is in a state of shock.

During a tooth extraction surgery, your dog will be put under anesthesia and when it comes out, it will not only feel pain but also anxiety and confusion at being in unfamiliar surroundings.

In such cases, your dog might lick more than usual as it is trying to reduce the pain.

Doggy says, you might like this too:How to Keep a Dog Beard From Smelling? [5 Ways That Work]

Swelling, redness, and minor bleeding

After your dog’s tooth is extracted, it may experience some swelling, redness, and minor bleeding.

This is especially common if you have an older dog or a dog with existing health issues.

If your dog is licking after an extraction, it could be because of a sore mouth or because they’re trying to clean their wound.

The licking will help them feel better and reduce the pain from the swelling or soreness in their mouth.

Doggy says, read this too: Dachshund Not Eating? Causes and Solutions You Need

Not used to the new sensation

I think most of us should have some kind of memory about the time we extracted our teeth.

The empty spot left behind by the extraction feels incredibly weird and I don’t know about you, but I always stuck my tongue in between the gap to feel it.

That’s what your dog is doing!

Your dog may not have had an extraction before, so they don’t know how to react to the strange feeling.

It’s a weird sensation for them, and they’re probably just trying to understand why there’s nothing where their tooth used to be.

Doggy says, you might like this too: Can I Use Fairy Liquid to Wash My Dog? Mistakes to Avoid

Existing or new habit

Do you have a new dog or are you aware of its existing habits before the extraction?

Dogs are creatures of habit, and they’ll often develop habits that are comforting to them.

If your dog has developed a habit of licking after a tooth extraction, it’s likely that they associate the act with comfort and security.

In many cases, the licking behavior will subside once the wound has healed and the stitches have been removed.

In a more extreme case, your dog might have developed Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD), or what we humans normally refer to as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Speak to your vet about this if you notice your dog displaying extreme and repetitive actions.

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Dog Ate String From a Rope Toy [What You Should Do]

How Can I Tell if My Dog is in Pain After Tooth Extraction?

How Can I Tell if My Dog is in Pain After Tooth Extraction

When your dog goes in for an extraction, it can be a scary time. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, you might wonder how to tell if your dog is in pain after tooth extraction.

There are some obvious signs that your dog is in pain:

  • whining, wincing, or yelping when you touch his mouth and neck area
  • avoiding eating or drinking because of discomfort
  • hiding away from everyone
  • not sleeping normally and seems agitated
  • subdued, showing lethargy

Most of these signs will improve within 24 hours of returning home, so keep a close eye during this period.

If any of them worsens or does not go away after a couple of days, it is time to give your vet a call.

Doggy says, you may like this too: Beagle Not Eating [Solutions]

How to Stop My Dog From Licking After Tooth Extraction?

There is not a whole lot you can do to stop your dog from licking inside its mouth or its lips after tooth extraction.

Some people suggest using a bitter apple spray or cream but I think that is just silly and makes things more uncomfortable.

However, if your dog is licking things or its body excessively instead, you might want to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent it from doing so.

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How to Care for Your Dog After a Tooth Extraction?

Leave the wound alone

In most cases, the vet will tell you not to clean or touch the wound at all.

Just leave it alone to heal on its own time and not risk further injuries.

Get antibiotics and painkillers

You will want to get antibiotics and painkillers from the vet.

Painkillers can be purchased over the counter, but they may not be strong enough to help with the pain of tooth extraction.

Chat with your vet about which medicine is best for your dog’s individual needs.

Do not brush its teeth

If you try to brush your dog’s teeth after an extraction procedure, it could cause them discomfort and pain.

It is important to let the wound heal before you begin brushing its teeth, typically 2 weeks later, or after the post-surgery appointment.

No access to chew toys

This is a no-brainer.

Don’t let them chew on anything hard or solid until the surgical site heals completely.

This includes toys and bones, so you’ll want to keep those out of reach until your pet’s mouth is fully healed.

Change to a wet diet

After a tooth extraction, your dog will likely have difficulty eating dry kibble.

It is difficult to chew, can get stuck in their mouth, and cause pain, so it’s best to switch to a wet diet like the ones from The Honest Kitchen.

On the day your dog comes home, it is unlikely to want to eat much, so you can give it a smaller-than-usual portion instead.

YouIf you only have dry kibbles, wet them for at least 15 minutes to soften them before feeding your dog.

This should persist for 3-4 days.

Reduce activities

The best way to protect your dog from further injury is to reduce the activities that could cause pain, such as playing too hard.

100% no fetch during this time.

If you have small children at home or are expecting guests, make sure to let them know of your dog’s condition and maybe consider keeping your dog away totally.

It’s also possible that for the first 1 to 2 days, it will not be as active anyway.

Stay indoors

You can still walk your dog after the first 2 days, but you must be very careful and should make use of an e-collar.

In case you still didn’t know, dogs love to lick things and nasty stuff can get into its wound, especially when you bring them out.

I would recommend that you restrict the amount of time spent outside if you do bring it for walks.

Go for a follow-up check-up

Usually, you will be asked to return to the vet in 2 weeks’ time to them to conduct a check up.

This is very important as your vet will determine if the wound has healed well and completely, and can give you clearance for you to brush your dog’s teeth and give it its favorite chew toys again.

Watch for warning signs

While things will go smoothly most of the time, there are exceptions from time to time.

Here are some warning signs you should be looking out for (after 2 days of post-op):

  • Major bleeding at the wound site
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inability to eat or drink
  • Wincing
  • Facial swelling

Lots of TLC

When it comes to caring for your dog after a tooth extraction, the most important thing is to give it lots of TLC (tender loving care).

Following the steps above and letting your pet rest and recuperate in a quiet place will help ensure it heals up quickly and painlessly.

Doggy says, read this too: Why is My Great Dane Not Eating?

How to Prevent Future Dental Problems for My Dog?

You can prevent future dental problems for your dog by taking a few simple steps.

First, brush your dog’s teeth daily.

You can do this using a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs or by using a finger brush.

If you use the finger brush, be sure to wash it thoroughly with soap and water after each use.

Second, feed your dog food that has been designed specifically for dental health.

Many pet store brands make treats and kibble that are packed with ingredients that help keep teeth clean, such as calcium and phosphorus.

Finally, give your dog chew toys!

Chew toys are an important part of keeping your dog’s mouth healthy because they help scrape away plaque from the teeth and gums.

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Why is My Dog’s Tongue Blue?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for a dog’s mouth to heal after tooth extraction?

Each dog’s mouth is different, and every case of tooth extraction will vary, but in general, it takes about two weeks for a dog’s mouth to heal after tooth extraction. Your vet will prescribe medications to help prevent infection and speed up the healing process.

Do dogs feel better after tooth extraction?

Yes, your dog will feel better after tooth extraction. Vets only recommend this surgery for a dog’s best interest, and this often means removing decayed teeth and broken teeth that are in fact bothering and affecting your dog.

Why is my dog pawing at mouth after dental surgery?

Your dog may be pawing at its mouth after dental surgery due to discomfort, pain, or irritation caused by the procedure. It’s a natural response to try and alleviate discomfort. Monitor your dog’s behavior, follow post-surgery care instructions from your vet, and contact them if the pawing persists or worsens.

Why is my dog licking everything after surgery?

Your dog may be licking everything after surgery due to stress, pain, or anxiety. Licking can be a self-soothing behavior. It may also indicate discomfort or an attempt to clean a wound. Consult your veterinarian if it persists for more than a few days to ensure there are no complications from the surgery.

In Conclusion: Dog Licking After Tooth Extraction

In most cases, there is nothing to worry about after your dog has a tooth extraction.

Since the first 24-48 hours are the most important, you should keep a very close eye on him or her and sound out to your vet if you see any warning signs such as major bleeding or not drinking for more than one day.

Don’t forget to give it lots of love and comfort and you will be surprised at how fast it will bounce back!

Browse around our site for other useful dog care tips such as whether Chihuahuas can live or sleep outside, what are conjoined paw pads, why a puppy holds pee all night but not during the day, and many more!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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