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Why Do Dogs Chatter Their Teeth? [UNDERSTAND THIS BEHAVIOR]

Why Do Dogs Chatter Their Teeth? [UNDERSTAND THIS BEHAVIOR]

As a dog owner, to properly take care of your dogs, you need to understand how they communicate, interact and behave. Seeing your dog chattering its teeth could appear strange to you – especially if that is the first time. Well, you should understand there are reasons for this. Keep reading for more insights.

Dogs chatter their teeth for various reasons, including dental issues, pain, neurological issues, seizures, emotional response, sniffing, excitement, anxiety, fear, cold temperatures, and threats. Dog teeth chattering is harmless, and in most cases, you have nothing to worry about when your dog does it.

It is natural for you to assume the reason your dog chatters its teeth is cold; while you are right, it may not always be the cause. You assume this because it is the major reason humans chatter their teeth.

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Why Do Dogs Chatter Their Teeth?

If you are familiar with dogs, you will know that cold weather is not the only reason a dog chatters its teeth; nervousness is also another major reason. However, there are other reasons why your dog chatters its teeth. Some could indicate health challenges, while others could be emotional or physical. Below are some of the causes;

The Dog is Cold

As humans, it is normal for us to shake and shiver when cold. The same thing happens in dogs too. When a dog is cold, you would see it shivering, twitching, and chattering its teeth. When a dog is cold, its muscles tighten and relax rapidly; this is the natural way of warming up.

Dogs with short hair coats living in cold regions often twitch more than others. So, if your dog has a short coat and it is twitching, you should understand that it simply means your dog is cold. You can provide and cover the dog with a blanket or get it a sweater. If the cold is a result of an AC, you should consider reducing the temperature of the AC.

The Dog is Excited

If you rule out cold from why your dog is chattering its teeth, it could be due to excitement. Many dogs often express their excitement and happiness by chattering their teeth. The chattering could be because the dog is anticipating its playtime, food, or the return of its owner.

Most times, this type of chattering is usually subtle and not heard unless you get very close to the dog. But if the dog continues and begins to sound in an obvious tone, it means the dog is still anticipating something. What you need to do is to give the dog what it wants. Once that happens, it would contain its excitement and should likely stop chattering.

The Dog is Anxious or Stressed

Another reason a dog could chatter its teeth is that it is trying to communicate to you that it is experiencing emotional distress. Teeth chattering in dogs is usually a form of coping mechanism in times of distress, and it is always a response to a stressful event. The severity of the anxiety determines the teeth chattering.

The anxiety might be due to separation anxiety, loud noises, going to the vet, or a change of environment. For instance, if a dog has separation anxiety, it would begin to chatter its teeth the moment you are about to leave the house. To help dogs in distress, you need to identify the cause of the distress then remove it.

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you could help it by desensitization and counter-training. Also, you could speak to a vet or behaviorist on other ways of helping dogs suffering from anxiety.

The Dog Has Dental or Oral Pains

If the cause of your dogs’ teeth chattering is health-related, then it could be due to dental or oral pain. When a dog is suffering from oral pains may be due to a broken tooth, gum disease, a cavity, dental injury, gingival inflammation, or loss of enamel; it could cause its jaws and teeth to rattle.

Other symptoms to watch out for in the dog to be sure of dental problems are; mouth odor, difficulty chewing food, eating less than usual, and taking too much time to eat. The moment you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is best advised you take it to a vet for immediate checkup and treatment.

The Dog Feels Threatened

Threat could be another reason for teeth chattering in dogs. This is a form of communication, called displacement language, in which dogs warn another dog or a person posing as a threat. Dogs also do this to help themselves stay calm, and the chattering sound from a dog often distracts the other dog (threat) by trying to figure out where the sound is coming from.

So, if you notice your dog doing this, you should not get bothered or worried. Instead, what you can do is to ensure you stop the interaction between both dogs before they get into a brawl.

The Dog Is In Pain

When some dog breeds are in pain, they begin to shiver, and this might cause their teeth to chatter. Most dog owners do not know this, so they take the wrong action to help the dog. If your dog begins to chatter out of nowhere, you know the dog is experiencing a form of bodily pain.

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The Dog Is Experiencing Neurological Issues

Another reason dogs chatter their teeth is that they are experiencing a neurological issue, including dilated pupils, tremors, walking in unusual ways, or shaker syndrome (inflammation of the cerebellum, the brain part responsible for managing the voluntary movements of the body).

This syndrome is also known as white dog shaker syndrome; although it can affect any dog of any coat color, white-coated dogs tend to suffer from this more. The body tremors sometimes cause the teeth to chatter.

The Dog Is Old

Teeth chattering tends to be more common with senior dogs than younger dogs. While this may not signify that the dog is experiencing any medical issue, it is best to take the dog to a veterinarian for a checkup. If your senior dog begins to chatter its teeth all of a sudden, you need to have the dog checked out by a vet.


In some cases, you must have noticed that your dog will chatter its teeth after it has licked something. This is an impulsive reaction, and you do not have to be worried about it. Dogs have a heightened sense of taste and smell than humans, and sometimes what they taste or smell can cause their teeth to chatter.

Dog Jaw Chattering

Just as we mentioned above, there are different reasons why your dog could chatter its teeth. When a dog is chattering its jaw, the causes are usually related to health issues. The most common cause of jaw chattering in dogs is dental or oral pains.

Also, if a dog is suffering from pain in its temporomandibular joint, seizures and pheromones could cause its jaw to chatter. Whenever you notice a dog’s jaw chattering, you should take it to a vet for an immediate checkup. When health issues are left untreated timely, they could sometimes develop into severe damage.

Keep reading: Retained Puppy Teeth, Time To Call The Vet? [GUIDE]

Final Thoughts

If your dog chatters its teeth regularly, that is a sign that you need to take the dog to a veterinarian to find out the cause of the teeth chattering. The first thing to be done is to rule out any potential underlying health issues. Once it has been settled that there are no underlying health issues, resolving it becomes a piece of cake.

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