If your dog just had surgery or a dental cleaning, you may be wondering how long it takes for anesthesia in dogs to wear off. How long it takes for the anesthetic to wear off ultimately depends on various factors. The type of anesthetic used for your dog for instance can make a difference. It may feel frustrating seeing a dog wobbly, sleepy dog without much appetite after anesthesia, so for dog owners a dog recovering from anesthesia may feel like a very long time. The good news though is that, generally, most dogs are back to their normal selves in the evening or by the next morning.
Effects of Anesthesia
With anesthesia, dogs are typically groggy for a day, they may feel like sleeping and they may not be interested in playing as they normally would. It's totally normal therefore for dogs to want to be quite inactive and not too interested in their surroundings.
Some dogs, on the other hand, may act a bit nervous and whine as the anesthesia is wearing off causing disorientation, but excess whining should be monitored as it can be a sign of pain.
Many dogs may be reluctant to eat for the first hours because they may feel groggy and slightly nauseous. Discharge papers suggest not to feed the dog for several hours after coming home to prevent digestive issues. Dogs who are very groggy should also not be offered food because their swallowing reflex may no be too active and this can predispose them to aspiration pneumonia.
Veterinarian Dr. John, suggests offering food 6 to 8 hours after anesthesia as he feels that very few dogs will vomit this long after anesthesia. Dr. John also suggests that if the dog had dental work such as extractions, then only soft foods should be offered. The soft food may consist of dry dog food (kibble) soaked in water for some time so to become soft or a type of dog canned food that is easy on the stomach (ask your vet for suggestions).
Time to Wear Off
As mentioned, how long it takes for anesthesia to wear off can depend on various factors and one important one is the type of anesthetic used. Often, other drugs are also used along with the anesthetic and these can also have sedative effects on the dog.
Some drugs therefore may wear off quite quickly while others may take more time. For instance, the injectable anesthetic propofol may wear off fairly quickly, usually within an hour, explains veterinarian Dr. Scott. The gas inhalant, isoflurane instead tends to remain in the body for several hours, explains veterinarian Dr. Andy.
If your vet used Dormitor, an injectable drug used for sedation in dogs (which is reversed with antisedan, atipamezole), it can cause mild sedation for quite a few hours after (generally for 2 to 4 hours). Because this drug is excreted in the urine, it may help to have the dog drink more and urinate.
The tranquilizer and central nervous system depressant acepromazine instead may take up to eight hours to wear off completely, explains veterinarian Dr. Kira Randall. Buthorphanol, a drug that produces sedation, should instead wear off in 4 to 8 hours, points out veterinarian Dr. Altman.
If you are concerned about the level of sedation your dog is experiencing, or if your dog seems to be getting worse, it's important to play it safe and contact the vet or emergency vet right away.