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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.

Grinding His Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Zoe
American Pit Bull Terrier
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

licking lips
Licking lips smacking lips

My 3 and 1/2 yr old female Zoe is an American pitbull with a smaller sized head for her breed. After sleeping for awhile at night she will wake up and smack her lips, grind her teeth a bit and constantly open her mouth like something is bothering her. (You know when you have chapped lips but cant help but sometimes open your mouth as wide as you can) thats what she does along with everything else. I try and give her water but shes not thirsty.
She did have a benign mass removed from the roof of her mouth when she was about a year and a half old. It was the size of half a bouncy ball or so. Now im paranoid that there could be something else but my vet couldnt find anything by looking down her throat. Before I pay a bunch of money for an x ray and other things. Id like to know more about what it could be and things I could do (besides going to my vet) to solve the problem or at least help me and my wife not go insane by having to hear that dreadful sound at 3am.

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Doodle Bug
pit mix
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Grinding

My babygirl ‘grinds’ her teeth when she’s going to sleep or getting comfortable. She’s a rescue that we’ve had now for almost a year. It kind of sounds like the predator sound from the movie. Every time she’s been to the vet, she’s checked out great. Not sure if I should be worried.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Bruxism or teeth grinding can be difficult to diagnosis; typically this condition is related to stress, dental/jaw disorders, gastrointestinal disorders (upset stomach etc…). It is difficult to say what the cause is, especially if it is a behavioural issue caused by stress or something else. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Lucy
Golden retrievee mix
21 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Shaking

Hi,
I have a female dog, Lucy, who I have notice been grinding her teeth in her sleep. It is not severe (she will normally grind them once or twice and stop). The first time I encountered such behaviour, I thought she was having an epileptic attack as her entire face was shaking along with her body (may be she had a bad dream).
I am a full tine student and am not working or have any income. And thus scares me, as i love her very much and care for her. I want her to be well!
Any suggestions?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Bruxism or teeth grinding can be difficult to diagnosis; typically this condition is related to stress, dental/jaw disorders, gastrointestinal disorders (upset stomach etc…). It is difficult to say what the cause is, especially if it is a behavioural issue caused by stress or something else; even with an examination it is sometimes difficult to make a diagnosis especially if it is a behavioural issue during sleep. If Lucy is otherwise in good spirits I would keep an eye on her and have your Veterinarian check her when you go to get her booster vaccines done in a few months. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Suki
Boxer
10 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

grinding teeth

Medication Used

none

My boxer, Suki 10 months old diagnosed was with Megaesophogus at 8 weeks. She grinds her teeth a lot, with the stomach/ esophagus discomfort is there anything we can do to help her with the teeth grinding?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm not sure what medications or therapy Suki is taking for her megaesophagus. She might benefit from an antacid, but without seeing her or knowing more about her condition, it is hard for me to say. It would be best to discuss this with your veterinarian, as they know more about her health status and physical condition, as well as any medications that she may be on. I hope that all goes well for her!

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Amber
Labrador
7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

teeth grinding

Hello,

Up until recently I had two dogs, Mother and Daughter who were together all the time. Slept together, ate together, played together etc. The mother passed away about 2 months ago and now my dog won't stop grinding her teeth. I am sure the reason would be down to stress/anxiety of losing her mother and the more the attention i give her the less she grinds her teeth - but unfortunately i can't stop her doing it all the time, like when shes falling asleep etc. I am worried about her as i don't want her to be sad, stressed or anxious and i want to help her get back to normal asap. She is fine within herself, eating, playing, happy it is just the teeth grinding. She is with me near enough for the whole day too, so it's not like she is ever left alone. I just don't know the best thing for her for me to do.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Teeth grinding (bruxism) can be a very difficult condition to manage especially if the underlying cause is due to anxiety; anxiety can be very difficult to control especially when your dealing with the loss of a companion and not a fear of the vacuum or other item which you can train them to accept. There are also medical issues which may cause teeth grinding include nausea, temporomandibular joint disorders among other causes; you should check in with your Veterinarian for a discussion to rule out the medical causes and review what may be done. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Wicca
Chihuahua
11 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Grindin
Underbite

I just noticed that my chihuahua is grinding her teeth in her sleep. She has an underbite and I’m worried that it’s going to cause complications. She eats fine, drinks water, chews on all her toys, and runs a lot. Is it necessary to fix her underbite? Can it even be fixed? How much would it cost?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Bruxism (teeth grinding) may be attributable to pain, nausea or abnormalities of the jaw; without examining Wicca I cannot say whether or not if surgery is indicated and without knowing the severity of the underbite (or knowing which country you live in) I cannot say how much it would cost. I would look at visiting a Dental Specialist for a consultation. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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coco
Goldendoodle
2 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

grinding teeth

i started to notice that my dog grinds her teeth occasionally while she is in deep sleep. She is 2 years old and her teeth doesnt show any signs of dental disease. she has been losing interest in eating her meals but we started to mix her dry food with wet food. should i be concerned?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. That may be normal for Coco, but she may have dental disease that is not apparent on external evaluation. It might be a good idea to have her examined by your veterinarian and make sure that dental x-rays aren't needed. I hope that everything goes well for her!

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Roxy
Pit Bullmastiff
5 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Sleepiness
Loss of Appetite

I have a 5 month old blue nose pitbull and she just recently started grinding her teeth in her sleep at first and now it's whenever she closes her mouth after she licks her lips. I'm extremely worried because I just rescued her a couple days back and I don't know much about her background I know she's had multiple owners in her short life span but I'm scared it will gravely mess her grin up for life

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian, to assess her bite, and look at the joints in her jaws, to make sure that there isn't a problem that needs to be addressed. Once your veterinarian has looked at her, they can give you a better idea as to whether there is a problem, and if there is any treatment that needs to be given. I hope that all goes well for Roxy.

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Roxie
Boxer
5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Grinding

Hi! We have an almost 5 year old female Boxer who, in the last month or so has been grinding her teeth. She has a minor thyroid issue and has been given medicine for that. She used to be around other dogs last year but became aggressive towards do now she is in our household with no other dogs. She had a physical last month and the bet said She was healthy. What else could be going on?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Generally teeth grinding or bruxism is related to pain which normally is related to the gastrointestinal tract; however, other causes may include temporomandibular joint disorders, anxiety and other causes. Keep a close eye on Roxie, but if this continues you should visit again to see if there are any changes since the physical last month; sometimes it is just a little upset tummy but other cases may be more serious. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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