If your teeth chatter, chances are you are feeling very cold. So, if your furry best friend does that same, you might assume that it is only a case of severe shivering. But is it always safe to think that everything is alright?
A dog may chatter, jitter, clack or click its teeth for so many reasons and it may be nothing or it may be a cause of concern.
So how do you know if you can sleep at peace while your dog is chattering? Here are the things that you should know to be fully informed.
Why Do My Dog’s Teeth Chatter?
How do teeth chattering sound like? If you are a new pet owner, it will sound like a low, rattling hum coming from your dog’s mouth. Looking at your dog, you may also see that its jaw may quiver.
So yes, it will be unlike how your teeth chatter; and definitely not how does Scooby Doo’s sound.
There’s a myriad of reasons why a dog’s teeth will chatter from the “nothing to worry about” scenarios to some serious issues.
But first, why do their teeth chatter? It can fall mainly into three broad reasons: emotional, physical and although this is not the case for your dog, they have a disease.
If your dog is chattering because of emotional or physical concerns, it may also not be a ticket out because reasons can either be positive or negative.
Let’s start with the positive reasons why dog’s teeth chatter due to emotional reasons. Because sometimes, because you are sharing treats their jaw might click or chatter just out of excitement!
Yes, your dog’s teeth may chatter simply because it is exciting. What excites your dog? It might be the food or treats you are about to share or its toy that you are ready to play with! Or, if you have been out for work, they may just be excited because you are home after your 8-hour job!
Not only its teeth may chatter due to excitement but also sometimes due to pure happiness. When you play with your dog at the park or it is enjoying your play of Frisbee, its teeth may chatter. If this is the case, you have nothing to worry about.
Nervousness, Fear or Anxiety.
There can be a lot of reasons why your dog may feel nervous or anxious. It may be because you are in a new environment it feels anxious or if there’s a new dog around, it may feel threatened. Teeth chattering can be the coping mechanism of your dog and it will help it keep calm. If you also notice that your dog’s teeth chatter before you leave for work, it may be a sign that this stressful event is causing separation anxiety.
Sometimes, you see your dog baring its teeth and it is a clear signal that your dog is feeling frightened or defensive. This is called displacement language or a dog’s way of warding off potential threats. Your canine might do this to distract a dog threatening it or turn its attention to the source of the sound. Yes, a dog’s clicking its tongue, spinning in circles or licking its face can just be a form of survival!
Then, there are also physical reasons why your dog may chatter from just being cold to maybe a signal of pain.
When your dog sniffs around, they can make strange face and mouth movements as they use their vomeronasal systems. Sniffing around with some teeth chattering is a normal case for dogs and is important in bringing scent molecules to be in contact with its system. Compared to chattering when your dog is cold, this one may be deliberately slower and usually exhibited by males than females.
Feeling cold due to low temperature
Just like you, your dog’s teeth may chatter also if its fur is not enough to warm its body. If you have a smaller dog like a Chihuahua, it will feel cold faster when you turn on the air conditioner compared to you. Or if your dog has a short coat, it will feel cold faster than dogs protected with long and heavy fur. Their twitching muscles due to teeth-chattering may also help them generate heat due to friction. In whatever case, if your dog feels cold, consider getting it a sweater or a warm place to stay. Warm hugs may also help and will give you lots of kisses.
Geriatric dogs may also experience teeth chattering for reasons that may not be entirely clear. If you have an old dog and chattering already, better get help from the vet. It may be an indication that something is wrong.
If your dog is feeling pain, one way it expresses its feeling is through teeth chattering. In some cases, if your dog is suffering from arthritis of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), apart from the pain caused by the poorly formed joint, your dog’s teeth may also chatter. If this is the case, better consult your vet for proper medication.
Issue of Disease
Although hopefully, this is not the reason, your dog may also chatter its teeth because of some diseases it is experiencing.
poor hygiene can also cause periodontal diseases in dogs. If you see that the chattering comes with tooth loss, drooling, foul breath or difficulty eating, it may be a case of dental issues. Apart from teeth chattering, one way to check also is if their chew toys or bowl have blood. Observe also if your dog is also chewing food on one side or it avoids you touching its head, it may also be a case of gum and teeth issues.
Prevention is always better than cure; this can be prevented with proper dental practices. Also, try to avoid this with prevention as dental work in dogs cost a lot of bucks.
Seizure disorders or neurological issues
Now we’ve come to the worst spectrum in reasons why their teeth chatter. Epilepsy or other seizure disorders like shaker syndrome and focal motor seizures can cause a clicking or chattering to happen. Depending on the kind of issue, it may be accompanied by palsy or facial paralysis, drooping eyelids, unnatural eye rotations, trembling, convulsions, jaw clenching and inability to hold straight their heads.
Small white dogs like Cocker Spaniel, Maltese, West Highland white terriers, and Bichon Frise are often afflicted with the shaker syndrome.
If your dog is experiencing this, working closely with your vet is important.
Is Dog Teeth Chattering A Cause for Concern?
Some of the causes indicated above are nothing to worry about. To help you also decide if your dog is okay, answer the questions below.
What is your dog doing when its teeth chatter? Is it sniffing, smelling, or they licked something? If it is just sniffing, this is normal and a part of its scent-collection system. If it just licked something, it may just be an impulsive reaction to smelling and tasting and not a thing to worry about.
Is your dog socializing and in the presence of other dogs? If this is the case, your dog might be experiencing social anxiety. Although this is not a major concern compared to others, it is still important to make your dog socially trained. You can do this by starting with a small group socialization or wearing an anxiety jacket.
Is your dog drooling while its teeth chatter? There are two possible scenarios for this. One, your dog might just be excited or it can also be a dental issue. Better assess the situation properly by checking your dog’s teeth.
Do they shy off from touching their head or are they eating sideways? Check your dog’s teeth as this may be a periodontal issue.
Does your dog exhibit strange expressions like eyes dilated, convulsions, jaw chattering or anything unusual? Better bring your dog to the vet for proper assessment as it may be a case of neurological conditions.
Although even if an initial assessment, you think your dog is safe, it is still wise to tell your vet about it next time you have a regular check-up.
What to Do If My Dog’s Teeth Persistently Chatters?
If your dog’s teeth chatter because of an unusual case, better talk and consult your vet about it.
For dogs suffering from social anxiety, behavioral therapy and socialization may help.
For diseases and physical issues, it is best that your vet do a thorough physical examination and even other tests like X-rays to come up with an accurate prognosis.
Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to pin down the issue especially for seizure disorders. In this case, you may need to closely monitor your pet to rule out as many serious health conditions as possible.
Conclusion: Be Concerned or Not?
There can be a lot of reasons why your dog’s teeth chatter. In any case, it is best to observe your dog; the checklist above will also help determine if it is a serious case or not. Ultimately, it is best to consult your vet for anything strange that you see in your dog while its teeth are chattering.