What it Means When You See Dogs’ Teeth Chattering

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dogs teeth chattering

Dog teeth chattering can occur for a variety of causes. While some causes are not a problem, other causes of teeth chattering can suggest severe and potentially life-threatening problems. In this article, we will review the possible causes of dog teeth chattering and what you should do if you see this symptom in your dog.

Dog teeth chattering is a symptom. A symptom is a sign of a disease which can be caused by multiple different medical problems. An example of another symptom is vomiting. Vomiting can be caused by a dog getting into the trash, eating indigestible objects, viral infections such as parvovirus, bacterial infections, kidney disease, liver disease, and many other possible diseases.

First, lets look at what dog teeth chattering is.

What Dog Teeth Chattering Is

Teeth chattering can be described as the sound made when a dogs mouth opens and closes quickly in sequence causing the teeth to touch and thus creating a sound in an alert and otherwise normal dog.  Humans often have teeth chattering when they are cold and shivering.

Is Dog Teeth Chattering a sign of a Seizure or Something Else?

Dog teeth chattering can be a sign of the following possible problems:

  • Cold or Fever– Some dogs extremely cold will chatter his teeth or dogs with a fever will sometimes have chattering.
  • Anxiety – Dogs that are anxious, scared, or intimidated can exhibit teeth chattering. Some dogs will have teeth chattering when they are extremely nervous such as when coming to the veterinary clinic.
  • Excitement – Some dogs will chatter their teeth when excited such as when presented with a new toy or about the engage in playtime. This is more common in high-energy dogs.
  • Dental Disease – Dogs with dental disease and pain in their mouth can chatter their teeth. This is often a sign of oral pain.
  • Neurologic Disease – Some dogs with seizures can exhibit teeth chattering. Paralysis of facial nerves or focal seizures can cause dog teeth chattering.

Dog teeth chattering can be seen in dogs with seizures but often other signs also occur such as drooling, disorientation, foaming at the mouth, and/or vocalizing. Learn more about seizures in dogs.

What To Do Next, How to Handle Teeth Chattering

When considering teeth chattering in your dog, consider the situation that occurred when you see this symptom.  Closely observe your dog was doing before, during and after you see the teeth chattering. Observe your dog for the following:

  • Is the teeth chattering constant? Or intermittent?
  • Did the dog teeth chattering occur when your dog was excited? Nervous?
  • Does your dog have seizures? Was your dog aware during the teeth chattering? Can you distract your dog during the chattering or is it uncontrollable? Does the abnormal movement involve just the teeth or is the entire face involved?
  • Does your dog have foul smelling breath that could indicate dental disease? Dogs with teeth chattering caused by dental disease may also have excessive drooling, be reluctant to eat, stop playing with chew toys, and/or be resistant to allow you to examine his or her mouth (head shy).

The best thing to do with dog teeth chattering is to see your veterinarian to try to determine the underlying cause and if treatment is indicated.  If possible, video your dog during a teeth-chattering event so your veterinarian can see exactly what your dog is doing in the case he doesn’t do it when you take him in for an examination.

What you can expect when you visit your vet:

  • They will likely take your dog’s temperature to determine if your dog is cold or has a fever.
  • Your veterinarian will also likely perform a neurological exam to assess for signs of disease such as facial nerve paralysis. Generally, there are changes in the eye reflexes or drooping of one side of the face.
  • Your veterinarian will likely perform a good dental exam to evaluate for signs of dental disease and oral pain. Fractured teeth and exposed nerves can cause oral pain and dog teeth chattering.  They may need to sedate your dog and complete additional testing such as radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate for problems.

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