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Home > Dogs > Dog Teeth Chattering: 5 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & What Does It Mean

Dog Teeth Chattering: 5 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & What Does It Mean

Dog Chattering Teeth

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs are usually quite expressive and will let us know when they are excited, happy, unhappy, uncomfortable, hurt, or afraid. But sometimes, they display actions that do not make it clear how they are feeling. One behavior that dogs display that can be confusing to us humans is teeth chattering.

Dogs, as well as many other mammals, can chatter their teeth, just like humans do. But why do they do it? Let’s explore this behavior now! Here are a few reasons that your dog might chatter their teeth.divider-dog

The 5 Reasons Your Dog’s Teeth Are Chattering

1. They Are Excited

One reason a dog might chatter their teeth is that they are excited. They may do it in anticipation or potentially if they cannot share their excitement in any other way, such as running, jumping, playing, or licking. On the other hand, they could try to impose themselves into a situation while chattering their teeth. Chattering due to excitement is usually subtle and only noticeable by sound when you are next to your dog.

However, the chattering can become obvious to everyone in the room if the dog’s excitement is not managed in some way. You can usually tell when a dog is chattering their teeth due to excitement based on the environment around them at the time. Maybe you are just about to throw the ball, offer them their favorite treat, or get ready for your walk.

To relieve the chattering, you just need to finish the task you were about to do. For example, throw the ball and continue playing with your dog.

close up of a dog with its mouth open, showing its teeth
Image by: Bruno Nascimento, Unsplash

2. They Are Anxious or Fearful

Fear and anxiety can result in a dog chattering their teeth. This is especially true when the dog in question feels threatened, afraid, or uncomfortable in a social setting, and they have no other recourse for taking care of the situation. Loud children that the dog is not used to, bright lights and loud noises in a community setting, and arguing within the household are all things that can make a dog anxious or emotional.

An anxious or fearful dog could show other signs of distress, such as shivering, hiding, and shying away from touch. The dog might even show aggression by nipping and growling. Taking your dog out of the environment immediately should help calm their nerves and allow them to relax. A bit of time outside of an emotional or anxious situation should result in the reduction, if not complete elimination, of chattering teeth.

3. They Are Cold

An obvious reason for dogs to chatter their teeth would be coldness. Teeth chattering happens because the muscles that control your jaw begin shivering as a natural response to cold temperatures in an attempt to produce heat. However, it does not have to be obviously cold for your dog to get chilled and start to chatter their teeth. Even when the weather seems comfortable inside and out, your dog could start chattering their teeth due to being cold. Anytime a dog gets out of a swimming pool, lake, river, or ocean (even when the sun is out and it is hot outside), they could become chilly and chatter their teeth until the sun warms them up.

Some dog breeds are better than others at regulating their temperature. Dogs with thinner coats or no undercoat can feel the cold quicker than other dogs. You should make sure your dog is not exposed to excessively cold temperatures. Trying boots or sweaters can be helpful if you can’t avoid the cold. Dog sweaters are available for any size dog, so they all can benefit from one, even German Shepherds and Great Pyrenees. Alternatively, a blanket or cuddling should help warm a dog up unless it is literally freezing outside.

Brittany dog in snow
Image by: doloresa burd, Pixabay

4. They Are in Pain

Sometimes, dogs will chatter their teeth because they are in pain of some kind. Whether it is an infected tooth, an injured toe, or a bellyache, teeth chattering is occasionally a sign of the problem. The way to know if your dog is chattering their teeth due to pain is to first rule out any other possible reason for the teeth chattering.

If nothing else seems to be the instigator, gently check your dog’s body with your hands to see if any part hurts during touch. Keep an eye on your dog’s gait. Take note of whether your pooch is interested in the activities that they normally like to participate in. If anything seems off, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to find out whether the pain is causing the teeth chattering.

5. They Are Displaying Signs of Health Problems

Unfortunately, some dogs chatter their teeth due to a variety of health problems that are making them uncomfortable or feeling sick. One of the most common medical issues is dental disease. Sometimes digestive issues or problems with their temporomandibular joint can be the explanation. Additionally, seizures and other neurological conditions can be blamed for your dog’s teeth chattering.

If you cannot figure out any other reason for your dog’s teeth chattering, it is a good idea to assume that a health condition is at play and to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet can examine your dog and perform tests to determine whether your dog is dealing with a health problem and then create a treatment plan that will not only get rid of the health problem but also the teeth chattering, once and for all.

angry dog
Image by: zoosnow, Pixabay


Final Thoughts

Dogs may chatter their teeth for a variety of different reasons. It is our job as dog owners to determine what the cause is and to minimize the situations and circumstances that can lead to this behavior. However, a dog that only chatters their teeth once in a while is no reason for alarm. Sometimes, a situation is simply overwhelming, and chattering teeth is just a way for them to handle the pressure.

Featured Image Credit by otsphoto, Shutterstock

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