If your pooch grinds their teeth, there are a whole host of possible causes for the behaviour. The grinding can be a symptom of an underlying health problem, or a sign of stress. Also known as bruxism, dog teeth grinding is commonly caused by pain, either in a dog’s mouth or tummy.
Since persistent grinding can cause more serious problems like fractures, infections, exposed pulp, painful teeth and gums, and wearing down the enamel, it’s important to speak with your vet. And especially if the grinding is sudden and unusual for your dog.
Why do dogs grind their teeth?
Pain – Dogs sometimes grind their teeth as a natural response to pain. As this is the most common cause for teeth grinding, it’s important to have your dog examined by a vet to help identify and treat the cause.
Jaw abnormalities – When a dog’s jaw is misaligned this can result in an under or overbite. This can make it difficult for a dog to close their mouth properly, which can lead to teeth grinding.
Stress – Just like humans, dogs can grind their teeth when they’re feeling anxious or under stress. Working with a dog behaviourist and your vet can help you identify the cause and put measures in place to manage your dog’s stress levels.
Related blog: Your dog’s dental health
Do dogs grind their teeth while teething?
As baby teeth fall out and adult teeth come in, this can be a painful process for puppies. And as a response to the oral pain, some puppies will grind their teeth. However, your puppy should stop grinding their teeth as soon as their adult teeth come in. In the meantime, you can help relieve your puppy’s pain using a frozen rubber toy filled with mashed up vegetables and fruit, or there are plenty of great puppy teething toys available to buy.
Why do dogs grind their teeth while sleeping?
For some pooches, the teeth grinding doesn’t stop when they’re asleep. Some humans grind their teeth while sleeping when they’re chronically stressed or anxious, and so can dogs. Pain can also trigger an instinctual drive to grind teeth even while they’re snoozing.
Does stress cause dogs to grind their teeth?
Dogs are highly sensitive to the world around them. Any sudden changes to their environment or routine can cause stress. This could be caused by moving home, a new baby or partner, or conflict in the home. When dogs feel out of sorts, this can manifest in a number of behavioural changes – teeth grinding being one of them.
How to treat dog teeth grinding
The first step is to book an appointment with your vet to identify the cause of your dog’s teeth grinding. Your vet will likely examine your dog’s mouth to check for any dental problems, and carry out a physical exam to uncover any pain elsewhere in the body.
If your dog seems in good health physically, your vet may ask you questions about any potential changes to your dog’s environment or routine to find out if it might be stress related. If it’s likely stress related, your vet will advise a few practical changes you can make at home to help reduce your dog’s anxiety.
If the teeth grinding doesn’t seem to be caused by pain or stress, your vet may suggest further tests to help identify the cause, and may also offer temporary pain relief to see if the grinding stops.