What you need to know about dog teeth chattering

If you’ve ever noticed a strange chattering sound coming from your dog’s mouth, you’ve no doubt wondered what on earth is going on. Dog teeth chattering can be a harmless case of over excitement, or it can signal a medical condition. Here’s the full low down on why your pooch might be chattering those gnashers and when it’s a cause for concern. 

Why my dog’s teeth are chattering

Since there are a wide range of reasons for dog teeth chattering, it’s a good idea to take note of your dog’s behaviour while it’s happening. 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 dog jaw chattering. 

On the other hand, chattering can be a sign of anxiety or stress. If your dog is naturally nervous, you may have noticed their teeth chatter while around new people or in new environments. The chattering can become 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. One of 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. 

Dogs do their best to hide their pain or show any signs of weakness, but the chattering can often be an instinctual response to the oral pain. So if you’ve found yourself wondering why does my dog chatter his teeth, and it’s persistent and out of the blue, it’s always best to seek advice from a 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, a vet appointment should always be your first port of call. Your vet will help you uncover and rule out any potential health problems. 

During your visit, your vet will 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 your pooch be anesthetised for 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. 

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 plaque and tartar build up at bay. You should also take your dog to your vets for regular check-ups at least once a year, so they can identify any potential oral health issues before they take hold. 

16 comments

    1. thanks. this stsrted about a month into us having to distance due to my health issues. we have been doing this since mid March. she is a social butterfly and she misses her friends. occasionally we run into 1or 2 of her friends on potty runs. she appears depressed too. il take her to vet when I get my ss on the 3rd. thanks so much.

  1. My 14 yr old Jack Russell, Cindy, has two visible tumors and really bad teeth. She has a heart murmur. She is a great dog and best friend. I have limited money, how can I help her. Her teeth chattering has increased and she squeals sometimes while yawning or stretching, then teeth chatters.

    1. My 14 year old chihuahua also recently started chattering her teeth. She has bad teeth because she can’t have them professionally cleaned because she suffers from a heart murmer as well. I’m not sure what I can do to help her.

      1. Have you tried dental chews. They come in various strengths and I use some that are 1.00 a day oravet chews. Plus additive into water + plaque off . Helped my 14 yr old with horrible teeth that were black. Now breath better, not chattering, teeth whiter.

    2. I would find the money from somewhere to have her treated, I couldn’t let her carry on in pain. Poor love, at 14 she really doesn’t need this pain. Find some money, there’s always a way if it is essential, which it is.

    3. Taken from the above info: “One of 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”.
      Hope this helps, best of luck with your lovely doggie, try phoning a vet practice, are u registered with one, if not, do so as it is free to register?
      Ian.

    4. Hi Susan, I don’t know if you have sought help already for your pup but why don’t you contact your local vet school at a university of there is one near you? They are sometimes willing to help out

  2. Hello my name is Ashley, I have a 4 year old male blue nose Pitbull, everytime he licks his private area he looks back and his teeth chatter , when he licks his pee, and only sometimes after he eats a snack

    1. I think that probably falls under the category of excitement. I have a red nose and he gets like that if he smells certain things that makes him nervous or overexcited.

    2. My 3rd cocker spaniel (8 months old) started this a few months ago as well! Others never did this. Strange habit! As long as there is nothing physically wrong guess we’ll have to live with it or maybe it will just stop

  3. My pug cross sometimes clicks his teeth after smelling my other dog’s penis or urine. It’s the only time he does it. Why does he do it? It doesn’t seem like a medical or dental thing and I know dogs’ urine and feces has chemical messages. Could the pug be detecting something he likes/doesn’t like in the other dog’s urine and should I be concerned?

  4. thanks. this started about a month into us having to distance due to my health issues. we have been doing this since mid March. she is a social butterfly and she misses her friends. occasionally we run into 1or 2 of her friends on potty runs. she appears depressed too. il take her to vet when I get my ss on the 3rd. thanks so much. Peaches is a Chihuahua mix of 3 other breeds. she has had teeth removed a few years ago plaque removed. I put plaque control liquid in her water. she is a nervous type dog. her jaws do not match up. I got some natural herbs stuff to calm dogs. it helps. any further suggestions welcomed. she is 10 yrs old

  5. I have a 19mth old Chocolate Labrador and she has just started to chatter her teeth. I have noticed one side of her lip is slightly swollen, not too much but it is slightly bigger than the other side.
    I was wondering if she has been stung as her teeth are immaculate being so young??? She us eating normally and playing as usual.
    Thank you

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