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What is Crying While Chewing?

Chewing is a normal part of a dog’s everyday life, and shouldn’t be difficult. So when a dog cries out or whines when chewing food or a toy, it may be an indicator of dental pain. Puppies from 3 weeks to 6 months old go through the process of replacing baby teeth with permanent teeth, which can hurt if the process does not go smoothly. Adult dogs can suffer from a variety of dental problems and mouth-related pain, with the most severe being mouth or tongue cancer.

  • Periodontal disease
  • Tooth eruption and exfoliation
  • Tooth root abscess
  • Tooth dislocation, sudden loss, or fracture
  • Mouth and tongue cancer

While tooth eruption and exfoliation is the normal process of the growing dog replacing puppy teeth with adult teeth, and only requires medical attention if there is an irregularity. Oral injuries, tooth problems, and mouth cancer all require immediate medical attention. Oral cancer is especially serious, and will probably require an extensive course of veterinary treatment.

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Why Crying While Chewing Occurs in Dogs

Whenever a dog cries while chewing, it is probably because the dog is experiencing some kind of oral pain. Oral pain typically originates in either problems with the dog’s teeth or oral cancer. 

Problems with Teeth

Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria in the mouth form plaque which, when left untreated, spreads under the gum line. This can cause very bad breath, and damages tissues around the tooth. It can be very painful, and can result in loss of the tooth. Small dog breeds are more likely than large dog breeds to suffer from periodontal disease. Tooth eruption and exfoliation are part of a puppy’s normal teething, and are only problematic when the teeth are not successfully shed, or grow back with irregularities. Tooth root abscess develops from infections in the mouth, as pus grows around injuries produced by bacterial skin infections or wounds. Tooth dislocation, sudden loss, or fracture are the result of trauma to the teeth, such as a tooth breaking when a dog bites something too hard to safely chew.

Mouth and Tongue Cancer

Mouth cancer is an abnormal tissue growth in the mouth. It can be recognized by swelling of the gums, tongue, muzzle, face, or lymph nodes; discoloration of the gums or tongue; bad breath; refusal to eat or drink; and excessive saliva production. It can develop from exposure to carcinogens, inflammatory viral infections, or genetic predisposition. Tongue cancer can also develop from exposure to carcinogens, but other causes are unknown. Symptoms include excessive drooling, bleeding in the mouth, swelling of the face, difficulty chewing, bad breath, loose teeth, and small white growths on the tongue. Any cancer can spread very swiftly, so must be treated immediately.

What to do if your Dog is Crying While Chewing

If you notice that your dog is crying while chewing, you should immediately seek veterinary assistance. Any oral problem, including any issues to do with teeth, and especially oral cancers, is potentially very serious, and possibly lethal. 

Periodontal disease requires an immediate professional cleaning, and may require any affected teeth to be extracted. Special food is available for dogs with dental disease. Problematic tooth eruption and exfoliation may require surgical removal of baby teeth, with follow-up visits to make sure the puppy is healing normally. Following a veterinary examination, tooth root abscess can be treated at home through applying a compress to the wound, brushing the dog’s teeth or massaging the dog’s teeth with gauze, and cleaning the dog’s mouth with salt water. If pus continues to build up in the infected area, the dog’s teeth must be professionally cleaned. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to extract a tooth. 

Tooth dislocation, sudden loss, or fracture must immediately be treated by a veterinarian or a veterinary dentist. If the dog’s tooth has come out of its mouth, pick up the tooth and rinse it for only a few seconds if there is any debris on it, but do not touch the root. You can protect the root from drying out by putting it back in the dog’s tooth socket, or putting it in a little milk or saliva. A veterinary dentist will need to see if the tooth can be reinserted through oral surgery under anesthesia. Take care to keep your dog calm and quiet during and after the procedure. A fractured tooth will require root canal therapy, vital pulpotomy, or extraction. 

Mouth and tongue cancers must be immediately and aggressively treated through surgery, possibly including radiation. If mouth cancer is detected early enough, a tumor may be entirely removed by surgery; however, it may also come back, so you must carefully supervise any previously cancerous area for your dog’s entire life. Tongue cancer may be successfully treated by removal of the cancerous portion of the dog’s tongue, to which dogs can adapt quite well. The dog may need pain medication. If the dog is suffering pain from an advanced cancer, euthanasia may be recommended.

Prevention of Crying While Chewing

Many of the causes of a dog crying while chewing can be avoided through preventive care. Get to know your dog’s temperament, habits, routines, and personality. Strong awareness of what is normal for your dog can make it much easier for you to know what is abnormal.

Periodontal disease can be prevented by regular professional cleanings. Most dogs develop some degree of periodontal disease by three years of age, so the dog’s teeth should be cleaned every year, starting early in life. You can help keep your dog’s teeth clean by regularly brushing them at home. Don’t let your dog chew sticks, rocks, or other hard objects, and provide clean, safe, high quality chew toys. Regularly inspect your dog’s mouth for any abnormalities.

Cost of Crying While Chewing

Canine oral conditions have a range of costs. Treatment of tooth eruption and exfoliation has an average cost of $700, while tooth dislocation, sudden loss, or fracture all cost an average of $850. It costs an average of $1200 to treat either periodontal disease or tooth root abscess, while mouth and tongue cancer treatment averages $12,000.

Crying While Chewing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Half poodle half chihuahua
5 Weeks
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Crying while chewing food, sad

Why is my puppy crying while chewing? He is chewing his food and cries at the same time. It also looks like he can't really chew.

He lays in his bowl and eats but while chewing he cries. He also looks sad and doesn't want to play.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Generally crying whilst chewing is attributable to pain which may be caused by dental disorders, jaw issues, foreign objects, congenital deformities among other causes; without examining Brownie thoroughly I cannot say what the underlying cause of the crying is but you should visit your Veterinarian as soon as possible to get this diagnosed before Christmas. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Shih Tzu
3 Months
Fair condition
-1 found helpful
Fair condition

My puppy is very healthy and the vet didn’t see any signs of any issues.
I bought my puppy his first bone and he started to whining while wagging his tail. He wouldn’t let it go and seems to love it but is whining.
What could this be?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. WIthout seeing Lux, I'm not sure what the whining behavior may be. He may be very excited, or nervous. in general, bones are not a good idea to give to dogs, as they can cause intestinal infection and broken teeth. If he continues to act strangely when given the bone, it may be best to stay away from that treat.

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Golden Doodle
6 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


My dog just started whining while he eats. He's a six month old golden doodle and has been throwing up in the morning as well. Should I be worried and take him to the vet or wait a few more days?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Whining whilst eating may be caused by dental disorders (retained teeth), oral injuries, temporomandibular joint disorders among other issues; I would recommend that you visit your Veterinarian to an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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