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What is Grinding His Teeth?

Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding in your dog occurs when he rubs his top and bottom teeth together repeatedly. This will wear down the enamel of your dog’s teeth and can result in fractures, pulp exposure, infections and pain in his teeth and gums.

Your dog many grind his teeth for different reasons to include:

  • Jaw abnormalities
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Pain

In order to best help your dog, you will want to understand what is causing him to grind his teeth so that you and your veterinarian can resolve the problem.

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Why Grinding His Teeth Occurs in Dogs

Your dog may grind his teeth for the following reasons:

Jaw Abnormalities

When teeth are misaligned in your dog it can result in an overbite or his lower jaw protruding. Misaligned teeth may also make it difficult or impossible for your dog to close his mouth.

Stress and Anxiety

Experiencing anxiety and stress can lead to your dog grinding his teeth. Working with your veterinarian to find the cause of the anxious behavior can help to halt this symptom before irreparable damage is done to the teeth.

Pain

Your dog may grind his teeth as a result of pain, whether in his mouth or his stomach. The pain that your dog is experiencing that is leading to his grinding his teeth may be the result of a more significant issue, requiring investigation from your veterinarian.

What to do if your Dog is Grinding His Teeth

Should you notice that your dog is grinding his teeth, you will want to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to determine what is causing him to do so. Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination of your dog; should he notice that your dog’s jaw is misaligned, which can cause teeth grinding, he may recommend that you work with a veterinary orthodontist who can help to resolve the problem. Should your veterinarian determine that your dog is grinding his teeth due to pain he is experiencing, he will seek to determine the location of the pain and what is causing it and then treat the pain accordingly. For example, the pain may be present in your dog’s mouth, perhaps with one or more of your dog’s teeth, requiring extraction or another form of treatment. 

If there are no issues with the alignment of your dog’s teeth and he is not experiencing pain, his grinding his teeth may be the result of anxiety or stress. If this is the case, your veterinarian may recommend medication to help your dog with his anxiety, along with behavioral therapy for the teeth grinding.

Prevention of Grinding His Teeth

Providing your dog with a well-rounded diet that delivers the nutrition that he needs is key to his long-term health, along with making sure he gets the appropriate amount of exercise. Exercise is important for your dog’s physical and mental health. His having enough stimulation will make him less likely to develop destructive behaviors. Annual examinations with your veterinarian will help to ensure that any potential issues your dog develops are addressed before becoming more significant.

There are things that you can do to best promote your dog’s mental health and minimize anxiety. Proper socialization, where your dog is introduced to new people, other animals, places, and experiences can help with his adjustment. Obedience training can be helpful in preventing anxiety as it helps with relationship building and establishing trust.

As you get to know your dog and what triggers his anxiety, there may be situations that you want to stay away from. If your dog tends to get anxious when there are loud noises or many other people around, you can prepare him a space where it is quiet and he can be alone.

Cost of Grinding His Teeth

The cost of your dog grinding his teeth will depend upon why it is occurring. For example, if your dog is grinding his teeth because of misalignment, the cost of treatment can vary based on the extent of the problem along with the location where treatment is being administered. On average, the cost for this condition is $850. Should your dog be grinding his teeth as a result of pain that he is experiencing, the cost of treatment will be dependent on the underlying cause of the pain. In the case of anxiety or stress, the cost of behavioral therapy and medication will vary, however there are steps that you can take that will help your dog calm down that will have minimal financial cost.