Why Do Dogs Chatter Their Teeth?

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If you’ve ever owned a dog then you may know what I mean when I talk about teeth chattering. During certain situations some dogs will click their teeth together as if it were cold creating a chattering noise. 

There are a couple of reasons why dogs might do this. Most of the reasons are harmless but a couple of the reasons could be something to worry about.

Harmless Reasons for Teeth Chattering


Scent Collection

Sometimes a dog will chatter its teeth after it’s smelled a spot another dog has peed on or after smelling another dog’s rear end.

A dog’s nose has what is called a vomeronasal organ that allows the dog to “taste” a scent. Dogs use their own scents to send messages to other dogs usually for reproductive purposes but also for other social purposes. 

Pheromones in these odors need to come into contact with the vomeronasal organ in order to distinguish what message the scent is telling the dog. The openings to this organ are located in the dog’s mouth and a dog will chatter and use its tongue to get that scent to the vomeronasal organ. 

This type of teeth chattering is more common with male dogs. Some people speculate that this is due to females use their urine to announce that they’re in heat. Male dogs will sometimes use this chattering technique to decipher the female's message. Either that or the male dog will receive the message directly from the female’s anus. 


Stress and Anxiety

Tooth chattering is sometimes seen in dogs that are anxious or nervous. Some dogs who exhibit separation anxiety also exhibit teeth chattering symptom when stress levels begin to rise. Some dogs chatter their teeth even before their owners leave the house. 

Stress can come in many forms and tooth chattering can be a direct result. If a dog isn’t socialized well and put into an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation, it's only natural to experience a bit of anxiety. If the situation was particularly traumatizing to the dog it might continue to chatter its teeth afterwards. 


Socializing

Just like barking and body language dogs use chattering to communicate a message. For example, if another dog approaches your dog and it begins to chatter its teeth, it probably means it feels threatened or even just excited to meet a new friend. It's important to observe the dogs other body language in combination with the teeth chattering to know the difference between fear and excitement.

Chattering itself is not harmful but it can give clues on what your dog is going to do next. If it’s chattering because it feels threatened then you may need to pull it out of that situation. 


Excitement

If a dog anticipates that something good is going to happen it will display a heightened energy and may chatter its teeth.

This is just a quirky habit that some dogs have when they become exceptionally happy and excited about something. If your dog is prone to this, you may be very familiar with it every time your dog knows it’s going to go on a walk, play with another dog, or is about to get some food. 


Cold

Just because a dog has fur doesn't mean they are immune to the cold. Dogs get cold too and they have even been known to shiver!

You know, that full on uncontrollable tooth chattering shiver.

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Harmful Chattering


Dental Problems

If your dog is chattering their teeth excessively, they may actually have a health problem that requires care. One of the most common cases with excessive chattering in dogs are dental problems. Broken teeth, cavities, infections, and other painful mouth problems can make a dog chatter their teeth.

Some other ways to distinguish between regular chattering and dental problems is by keeping track of how your dog eats. If they lack an appetite or eat slower than usual then you should go to the vet to get them checked out. 

Old Age

For unknown reasons, teeth chattering is more common in older dogs than with younger dogs. Usually, there are no other problems with the dog other than the fact that it is just getting old but you should let a veterinarian check the dog out just to be sure everything is okay. 

Nobody stays young forever and just like humans, our pooches need a little extra attention and medical care as we age.


Diseases and Other Problems

Diseases such as Shaker Syndrome can cause damage to a dogs neurons which cause tremors throughout the whole body as well as the mouth causing teeth chatters.

Dogs that have Epilepsy will have seizures which causes their teeth to chatter. You need observe the teeth chattering during a seizure so that they don’t damage their teeth or their tongue.

You can determine if the chattering is due to a seizure or a disease by seeing if they are in control of the chattering.

The best way to determine control is to get your dogs full attention. Getting the dogs full attention and seeing if they stop is a good way of checking if they are okay. You can always bring them to a pet doctor to make sure everything is fine. 


Your Turn!

Do you have any info on tooth chattering that we missed? Maybe you have a video of your fur-baby actually chattering their teeth?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

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