Our favourite companions can make the weirdest sounds. Chances are you’ve already noticed the strange chattering sound that comes occasionally from your dog, but if it’s not below zero outside, you might be wondering what’s going on. Unlike us, dog’s teeth chattering can mean a multitude of things.
Dog teeth chattering can be totally harmless, when they’re excited and playful or have tried a new, unfamiliar taste, or smelt something but did you know it also signals certain medical conditions? We thought it might be useful to get the complete picture on those gnashers, so for the good (and bad) on why your dog chatters their teeth, here’s a round-up.
Why are my dog’s teeth chattering?
Before hitting the worry button, here’s what to do first. Ask yourself:
- What is your dog doing (are they sniffing, eating, socialising?)
- How are they behaving while the teeth are chattering?
- Is it ‘clicking’ or is your dog grinding their teeth?
- How healthy are their teeth?
This can give you a clue as to whether it’s simply an emotional response, or a symptom of pain.
Emotional response – some dogs chatter their teeth out of excitement or nervousness. The anticipation of a treat, a ball being thrown, or playing with a favourite toy can all trigger the jaw clicking or chattering.
Anxiety or stress – is your dog naturally nervous? If so you might find their teeth chatter while around new people or in new environments. They’re using their chattering teeth as a coping mechanism to help them stay calm!
Medical condition – while some dog teeth chattering is relatively harmless, it can also signal a problem with your dog’s gums or teeth. The most common causes of dog teeth chattering is periodontal disease. This is a painful condition where the gums become inflamed and bacteria eventually deteriorates the teeth, bones and tissue. Chattering can also be caused by sensitive teeth due to a loss of tooth enamel.
Oral pain – dogs do their best to hide their pain or show any signs of weakness, but the chattering can often be an instinctual response to being in pain. So if you’re wondering where your dog’s chattering teeth is coming from, it’s persistent, and out of the blue – seek advice from a veterinary professional.
Related blog: Your dog’s dental health
Why does my dog’s mouth chatter after licking?
Dogs’ mouths will sometimes chatter after they’ve licked something – it’s usually just an impulsive reaction and nothing to worry about! Remember dogs’ sense of taste and smell is much stronger than ours and sometimes this results in chattering teeth.
What to do about persistent dog teeth chattering
If your dog’s teeth chattering happens regularly, make a vet appointment. Your vet will help you uncover – and rule out – any potential health problems. Your vet will be able to thoroughly examine your dog’s teeth and gums to look for any signs of fractures or disease. If there are no obvious signs of a problem, your vet may suggest an X-ray to explore further.
Your vet will likely ask you questions about your dog’s behaviour over the last few weeks. Any unusual behaviour like excessive drooling, avoiding eating or playing with toys can signal mouth pain. Equally, a foul odour or blood coming from the mouth can also signify a problem.
Teeth chattering – oral health
Since dog teeth chattering is often caused by tooth or gum pain, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week and offer dental chews to help keep that build-up of tartar and plaque at bay.
Related blog: Dog’s and bad breath
If your dog is grinding their teeth (known as bruxism) read our blog here: https://tails.com/blog/2020/02/19/why-do-dogs-grind-their-teeth/