Teeth Chattering in Dogs: What Does It Mean?

I have to admit when I first read about this, I was as surprised as you most likely will be.

Could teeth chattering signal a medical problem?

Teeth Chattering in Dogs: What Does It Mean?

Believe it or not, it can. This comes to show the importance of assessing things in context. It’s the context and circumstance that make the difference most of the time.

The only time I have ever seen a dog chatter their teeth was when we took Jasmine to pick her new housemate from a little. JD’s father was quite smitten by Jasmine and his teeth were chattering up the storm. It would seem that he liked her a bit.

Are you cold or just happy to see me?

Emotional arousal can be a perfectly benign reason behind teeth chattering. It doesn’t need such a major reason such as meeting the queen bitch of the universe, Jasmine. A dog can get this excited over a frisbee or a favorite meal as well. Both positive and negative excitement/stress can cause teeth-chattering.

Just as with humans, dogs can chatter their teeth when they’re cold or have a fever.

But there is one reason you’d likely not think of in a million years.

The most common cause of teeth chattering in dogs is oral pain.

“Teeth chattering is such a common symptom of oral pain, Fink says, that some dogs will chatter their teeth even when they’re under anesthesia.” ~Dr. Fink, Cornell University

How about that? There is not one specific oral problem which would have this as a hallmark symptom. The pain can be from a tooth fracture, tooth resorption, or enamel loss …

Not as unexpectedly, teeth chattering can be a neurological problem.

Tremors or focal seizures can result in teeth chattering. A slower motion, what looks as if your dog is chewing gum, can arise in late stages of distemper infection.

Do you see now how important context is?

Related articles:
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Further reading:
Dogs and Teeth Chattering: What You Need to Know

Categories: SymptomsTeeth chattering

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Jana Rade edited by Dr. Joanna Paul BSc BVSc

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience. Dr. Joanna Paul BSc BVSc is our wonderful sponsor and has been kind to edit and fact-check my important articles.

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