Have you ever wondered why your dog’s teeth chatter? Teeth chattering in dogs isn’t terribly uncommon, but it can be surprising for people who have never heard it before! There are several reasons that a dog’s teeth might chatter, ranging from something as benign as being cold, to serious medical issues like seizure disorders.
This article will cover why dogs’ teeth chatter, the symptoms of teeth chattering, how seizures are related to teeth chattering in dogs, and how you should respond if your dog is experiencing chattering.
Dogs’ teeth chatter for any number of reasons. The cause of the chattering is partially—but not completely—dependent on the breed of dog. Cold is one of the primary causes of teeth chattering in dogs. Just like humans, a dog’s teeth might start chattering when he or she is cold. This is especially true of dog breeds that have thin skin and short hair because it is harder for them to keep warm. Breeds like Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers, Italian Greyhounds, and Miniature Pinschers are particularly susceptible to teeth chattering due to the cold.
Teeth chattering can also by symptomatic of problems in the dog’s mouth. If a dog has swollen or bleeding gum, chattering may be the result. Dogs who are experiencing mouth pain, either from a tooth ache or a gum issue, may also chatter.
Another reason that causes chattering is simple emotion: anticipation, excitement, or even just as a nervous habit. When a dog is very excited, but trying to stay still, the teeth may chatter.
Old dogs experience teeth chattering as a part of aging. This may be related to the dog having difficulty staying warm. It is not unusual for an older dog’s teeth to chatter.
The most alarming cause for teeth chattering is that it may be symptomatic of a neurological problem like seizure disorder. Some breeds—Maltese, Cocker Spaniels, and Bichon Frise—have a link between teeth chattering and a disorder called multisystem neuronal degeneration. This is a type of seizure disorder. In other breeds, teeth chattering may indicate a partial seizure, called focal motor seizures.
You can tell if your dog’s teeth are chattering by its mouth movements and the noise you hear. When a dog’s teeth chatter, their teeth knock together rapidly and continuously, perhaps for several minutes. This produces an audible clacking noise that is not unlike the sound produced when a human’s teeth chatter.
If you haven’t seen or heard your dog’s teeth chattering, you may discover that the dog has broken teeth or other mouth damage. Broken teeth are often a sign of teeth chattering because the force of slamming the teeth into each other can result in cracking.
Finally, the dog may have visible seizures. The focal motor seizures only affect the face and may be harder to identify. However, if the dog is suffering from grand mal seizure disorder, you will see the dog’s whole body convulse and he or she will go unconscious.
For a dog owner, seizures are the scariest possible cause of teeth chattering. However, teeth chattering does not automatically mean that the dog is having a seizure, so do not panic. If the dog is a Maltese, Cocker Spaniels, or Bichon Frise chattering could be a sign of multisystem neuronal degeneration. This is a seizure disorder that can affect these breeds. If your dog is diagnosed with multisystem neuronal degeneration, you will need to obtain seizure medication from your vet. For other dog breeds, teeth chattering may be indicative of focal motor seizures, which is a seizure that just affects the face. There are many neurological issues that can cause a seizure—including tumors.
If your dog’s teeth are chattering, there are a few things you can do. If you have a small, short-haired, or older dog, the dog is probably cold. Get the dog under a blanket and wait to see if the chattering stops. If so, he or she was probably just cold.
In most instances, if you hear chattering, you should take your dog to the vet. Although teeth chattering will not always indicate larger health problems, they can be linked to various seizure disorders or mouth issues. Your vet will be able to diagnose any health issues and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.