Teeth chattering in dogs may be a sign of many health concerns and emotional and physical reasons. However, it could be a symptom of something more serious, such as dental pain or a complex neurological condition, or it could be triggered by something harmless as happiness on getting a new toy.

Why Do Dogs Click Their Teeth?

  • Low Body Temperature
  • Excitement or Anticipation
  • Anxiety, Stress, or Acute Pain
  • Social Interaction
  • Scent Collection

Low Body Temperatures

Just like us, your pet may start clicking his teeth when he is shivering due to cold weather; or he has a fever. [1]1

Muscle fibers twitch, causing friction, which creates heat that further helps in increasing their body temperature. The jaw and neck muscles could be involved in these muscle movements, allowing the teeth to chatter.

In these situations, you must consider getting a jacket for him to keep him warm during the winter months.

Did you Know?

Teeth chattering is particularly common in short-haired puppies that live in colder climates.

Excitement or Anticipation

When your dog gets excited, he might start clicking his teeth. If you observe your pup chattering his teeth as soon as you arrive at home from work or as you add his food into the dish, it clearly means that the chattering is triggered by excitement. [2]2

Teeth chattering could also happen during play sessions, when you both play with his favorite car, or when he is going for a long walk or a relaxing drive. Perhaps you’re preparing something special, and he is waiting for a quick bite.

It occurs when the pet becomes too anxious and is not able to control it, allowing his teeth to chatter. There’s nothing to be concerned about in situations where anticipation is the root of teeth chattering.

Anxiety, Stress, or Acute Fear

Teeth chattering may also be a symptom of anxiety or fear. Dogs that chatter due to stress or terror may grind their teeth at any time during the day. However, it is more likely to happen right before, throughout, or after a traumatic event. For instance, if your pet chatters just before you’re about to leave for office, he is most probably suffering from separation anxiety.

In this situation, it’s crucial to resolve his discomfort or fear and assist him in stopping his teeth from chattering.

If your pet is extremely shy, you might have found that his teeth chatter when he is around strangers or in different environments. Chattering could become a calming mechanism for him to keep him relaxed.

Your dog may also chatter its teeth while sleeping if he is having stress or anxiety issues. [3]3

Did you Know?

Chattering teeth can be more common in dogs with a strong drive and/or anxious behavior.

Social Interaction

When dogs engage socially, they can sometimes chatter or chomp their teeth to avoid getting trapped in danger. It’s also defined as displacement language, as it happens when a dog is startled by another dog. When a dog feels threatened by a bigger, more hostile dog or a person he doesn’t trust, he might start to chatter.

He may be attempting to distract another dog, or human, by chattering his teeth in the hope that the person trying to threaten him might be more curious to find what the weird noise is. The chattering can be followed by spinning or nose licking in such situations.

So, if your pooch shows any other stress signs, it’s probably better to limit the interaction.

Scent Collection

In certain situations, teeth chattering could also be a result of a certain taste or scent. If it eats or smells something disgusting or exciting, its reaction could be either positive or negative.

For example, if your furry friend licks something disgusting, he will chatter his teeth. Just like that, he can chatter his teeth if he is too excited about the taste or scent of something.

Usually, it is just an impulsive response, so don’t be concerned.

Did you Know?

Dogs’ sense of smell and taste are much superior to humans, which can lead to teeth chattering.

A dog’s ability to sense and identify scents is so critical that they have a supplementary odor-detecting mechanism in addition to their nose. The openings of this apparatus, known as the vomeronasal system, and are found inside their mouth. [4]4                      

Dogs can adjust their mouth in a lot of weird ways, like chattering, to help get smell compounds into connection with their system. This form of chattering is typically slower and more focused than chattering triggered by discomfort or low body temperatures. Also, males are more likely to show it more than females.

Furthermore, male dogs, in fact, are always keen to smell female dogs’ urine to see whether they are in heat. In this situation, teeth chattering helps the dog to closely examine the scent to decide whether the females are in heat and, if so, at what stage they are in heat. In this case, the teeth-chattering is close to that of horses’ flehmen. [5]5

Some dogs can froth at the mouth and chatter their teeth at the same time. The same chattering trait can be seen in neutered dogs. Dogs that are neutered do not state they are not interested in particular scents! In either case, teeth chattering in such circumstances are purely impulsive, and it is not a cause for alarm.

What Does It Mean When Dogs Chatter Their Teeth?

  • Periodontal Diseases
  • Epilepsy
  • Shaker Syndrome
  • Focal Motor Seizures
  • Old Age

Periodontal Diseases

In some circumstances, a dog chattering his teeth may be a symptom of a severe medical issue affecting the dog’s oral health. Oral pain, which includes broken teeth, cavities, toothache, and gum disease, can cause his teeth to chatter. It may also be a symptom of enamel erosion, which causes teeth to become more sensitive. [6]6

Heavy plaque and periodontitis followed by stomatitis may also cause teeth chattering. Bad breath, drooling, and even blood on the saliva are all signs of serious dental problems. Teeth that are coated in a thick coating move around a lot, causing discomfort. Chewing while shutting the mouth on a sore tooth creates symptoms of cracking. It can lead to accidental biting on closing their mouth, which can cause the teeth to snap off.

Stomatitis is a serious problem that involves sores and painful swelling within the mouth.

If chattering is followed by drooling, trouble swallowing, poor breath, or tooth loss, it may be a sign of periodontitis, which is a painful condition. Examine your pet’s water bowl and chew toys for any traces of blood. Check to see whether he is just chewing on one side of his mouth or refuses to let you touch his head or mouth. [7]7

Eating less food than usual, chewing in unusual ways, or taking longer to chew than usual are signs in dogs with dental problems.

If you suspect your dog is chattering his teeth after yawning, there is a possibility that he is having severe pain in his tooth.

Since oral pain is the most common cause of teeth chattering, it is important to spend some dollars to prevent it earlier rather than spending on its cure in the future. To keep your pet’s dental issues in control, it’s vital to maintain his oral health up to date. Wash his teeth with a pet-friendly toothbrush and dog-formulated toothpaste daily for overall dental hygiene.

Dental chews can also be given to your pet to help prevent plaque and tartar build-up. Additionally, offer him healthy chew toys so that he can naturally scrub his teeth. You can also take the dog to the vet at least once a year for routine check-ups so that any possible oral health problems can be identified before they become severe.

Although most of these issues can be cured, treating them as soon as possible is often safest for your dog’s wellbeing. Dental work for dogs is often costly, so visiting the vet earlier can help you avoid costly and intensive procedures.

Epilepsy

It is a disorder that is more normal in dogs than in humans. Epilepsy could be caused by a variety of factors, such as tumors or allergies. The dog’s overall body convulses as a result of this disease. [8]8

The teeth will chatter as a result of the seizures. It is often followed by a lot of drooling and mouth foaming.

It’s a concerning situation that needs to be addressed immediately.

Veterinarians may be able to tell whether the seizures are caused by epilepsy or something else. It’s crucial to have the seizures treated as early as possible if they last more than 5 minutes. [9]9

Shaker Syndrome

This syndrome, also known as multisystem neuronal degeneration, affects a dog’s neurons. A dog’s full-body tremors as a result of this trauma, which can lead to teeth chattering. [10]10

This disease can affect dogs of any breed, but it is especially common in small white dogs, such as West Highland white terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Maltese, and Bichon Frise, and related breeds.

Focal Motor Seizures

Only the jaws are affected by this disease. It is also quite short, making it impossible to notice if you’re not paying close attention to your puppy. It essentially allows the jaws to contract for a short amount of time. Chattering happens as a result of this. [11]11

While it’s generally not extreme, it’s always a wise decision to get your pet checked by your vet to make sure it’s not a sign of anything worse.

Did you Know?

A dog might lose control of its tongue and mouth during this seizure.

Old Age

Chattering teeth is a habit that pets can pick up when they grow older. Teeth chattering is much more common in older dogs for this reason. Neurological conditions in senior dogs are very common, which may include conditions of the facial nerve, which are followed by drooping of the eyelids, lips, nostrils, leaking food from the mouth, and head skew.

You must have your geriatric dog checked out by a veterinarian. However, if there is no known reason and your dog doesn’t appear to be sick or showing any of the signs mentioned above, then teeth chattering is just a sign of old age.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Jaw Chattering?

Visit your vet if you notice your dog’s jaw is chattering. He could start by looking at your pet’s eyes, jaw, pupil dilation, and gait pattern. Your vet might even inquire about your dog’s jaw chattering, like why it happens and the day you noticed.

He can then conduct a complete medical examination, including blood tests, urine tests, and a biochemistry profile. These examinations will scan for any potential health issues that could be causing your dog’s jaw to chatter. He can also do a complete dental examination to search for any concerns with the teeth, like an abscess.

Neurological tests can be done to determine if your pet is suffering from epilepsy or any other neurological problems. He can also conduct a distemper exam. After all the assessments are done, the vet could tell the difference between a health condition and an anxiety problem.

The Bottom Line

You should always be cautious when something is associated with your dog’s health. Whether your pet’s teeth chatter on a daily basis, or if you suspect something is wrong, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

Teeth chattering can be caused by a variety of factors, so it’s safe to have your dog checked by a veterinarian.

There are chances that your dog will not chatter on visiting the vet. However, taking a short clip of your pet chattering will let your veterinarian see their behavior.

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