What Does Dog Teeth Chattering Mean?

Have you ever wondered, why is my dog chattering his teeth? While your furry friend’s jumpy jaw might be nothing, there are some underlying causes that could raise concern (think: an undiagnosed medical issue). Below we’ll explore the possible causes of dog teeth chattering, and what to do about it.

  1. Dogs’ teeth chatter when emotions run high.

Just like humans, dogs can get in their feelings, too. Dog teeth chattering can occur when dogs are excited, nervous, anxious or experiencing other complex emotions.

“It’s normal for a dog’s teeth to chatter when they’re excited while playing, see their owner or about to eat,” says Dr. Lauren Pastewka, chief veterinary officer of NewDay Veterinary Care at Pet Paradise. But it’s not just excitement and happiness. Teeth chattering can also be a sign of stress.

What you should do: When it comes to times when your dog is clearly excited, stressed or nervous, there’s no need to do anything. Dr. Pastewka says it’s likely just your dog’s unique way of showing her emotions in the moment.

  1. Dogs’ teeth chatter when they are cold.

Brrrr. If you’re catching a chill, your dog might also be feeling cold. And her body’s response to the cold is similar to the way humans respond. “When a dog is cold, they’ll shiver and their teeth will chatter as their body’s way to create warmth,” says Dr. Pastewka. This is especially common in short-haired dogs living in colder climates.

What you should do: Dr. Pastewka recommends grabbing your pup a sweater or a coat to wear when she goes outside.

  1. Dogs’ teeth chatter when they are in pain.

Teeth chattering uncharacteristic in your pet? “If it happens suddenly, and your dog seems stressed or uncomfortable, it’s often a sign that they’re experiencing pain,” says Dr. Pastewka. Painful experiences like gastrointestinal discomfort, TMJ or, less commonly, ear infections can cause teeth chattering or grinding.

What you should do: Pain = action. If your dog’s clearly in pain, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to find the source.

  1. Dogs teeth chatter when there is a dental issue.
    “If your dog’s drooling more than usual, has difficulty chewing, bad breath, or loose teeth, there may be an oral cavity issue that requires treatment,” says Dr. Pastewka. “Periodontal disease can be painful for dogs.”

One way to spot dental issues: Look for blood on your dog’s chew toys or in her water bowl, and look for signs of swelling around or on one side of the mouth, which can be a symptom of gum disease.

What you should do: If you notice any symptoms that could indicate gum disease or teeth issues, contact your vet.

What to do when you can’t pinpoint the cause?

Pay attention to the amount of chattering occurring, and observe the situations in which the chattering happens, says Dr. Pastewka. If there are worrying symptoms or the chattering doesn’t stop when the situation ends (e.g., it’s no longer cold or they’re no longer excited), contact your vet.


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