Jaw Chattering in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Why is my dog jaw chattering?

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Why is my dog jaw chattering?

What is Jaw Chattering?

A dog may chatter his jaw for a variety of reasons, and you may first notice the signs of this behavior or symptom when you hear it. When a dog chatters his jaw, his teeth click together very rapidly and sometimes it can be quite loud and bothersome. 

A dog may chatter his jaw for a very short amount of time, like when they are excited, anxious, or cold. If a dog chatters his jaw for several days or if he has never done it before you should make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your pet may also show several different signs along with jaw chattering, and if so, it should not be ignored. 

A chattering jaw can be a sign of something serious, such as a neurological condition, or may be due to the temperature in the room being too cold (just as humans may do).  There are different reasons why this behavior or symptom may be taking place, and they include:

  • Neurological disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Cold
  • Dental condition

Why Jaw Chattering Occurs in Dogs

A dog may chatter his teeth together, or his jaw, occasionally or more frequently than you would like him to. Several reasons why this could be happening are:

Neurological Disorders

Your pet may be having neurological issues, such as seizures. There are seizures that are not very noticeable, known as partial seizures. These types of seizures can make the jaw chatter. Other neurological conditions may also be causing your dog to chatter his jaw.

Anxiety

Your dog may be overstressed or become nervous easily, and may chatter his teeth together or his jaw. Anxiety can occur due to a stressful home environment, a thunderstorm or fireworks, other loud noises, or when around unfamiliar dogs.

Cold

If your dog is cold, his teeth may chatter. Just as humans sometimes do in frigid temperatures, dogs that are out in the cold may have difficulty tolerating the temperature drop. If this is the case, you may not need a veterinary visit, just be sure to keep your dog warm.

Dental Condition

A dental condition may cause your dog to not want to bite down on his teeth or chew on food. He may also chatter his jaw as a response to the pain from a tooth abscess or gum infection. If your dog is a puppy, he may be teething and may also chatter his jaw.

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What to do if your Dog is Jaw Chattering

If you notice your dog is chattering his jaw, make an appointment with your veterinarian. He may begin by doing an examination to check your dog's eyes, pupil dilation, his jaw, and his gait when walking. These are preliminary neurological observations. Your veterinarian may also ask questions about the jaw chattering, such as when your dog does it and when you first noticed the behavior. 

He will then perform a complete physical examination, and may recommend blood work, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. These tests will check for any underlying health conditions your dog may have that may be causing his jaw to chatter. He may also perform a full dental examination and check for any teeth conditions, such as an abscess. He may also recommend x-rays for  your dog's mouth if he feels it is needed. 

Neurological testing may also be performed to see if your dog may be having seizures or other types of neurological issues. He may also test for distemper if your dog has an unknown vaccination history. Once all of the testing is complete, your veterinarian will be able to discern between something health-related, or anxiety, excitement or cold.  

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Prevention of Jaw Chattering

Check and see if your dog chatters his teeth in the cold, or if he gets too excited or anxious. If this is the case, you may try to prevent situations from happening. However, if his jaw chattering is a sign of a more serious condition, you will need to seek proper treatment for your pet. Be sure to give him any medications on time, and observe his behaviors and monitor him. Your veterinarian can give you advice on how to prevent this issue from worsening. 

Regular dental check-ups are important. The veterinarian can assess any tooth or root damage before your dog suffers from too much pain, which may cause the jaw chattering. If he receives dental treatment be sure to learn how to properly care for him at home while he recovers.

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Cost of Jaw Chattering

The cost of diagnosing and treating a seizure disorder in dogs may be between $$500-$2500. If your veterinarian diagnoses an abscessed tooth, the expense to fix it may be $600-$1200.

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Worried about the cost of Why Is My Dog Jaw Chattering treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Jaw Chattering Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pomeranian

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Three Years

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16 found helpful

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16 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Jaw Chattering

I noticed yesterday that my pomeranian of 3 and a half years started to move his bottom jaw when he licks. He’s never done it before. It is ever so slightly, but he does it often. I am concerned it may be a dental disease since his teeth do have some tartar build up and a black stain despite brushing them often.

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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16 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that you are right, and he does have dental disease. Small dogs including Pomeranians are very prone to tooth problems, and sometimes it's the ones at the very back that you can't really see or reach easily with a toothbrush that can cause problems. Since this seems like a new Behavior but it is not getting better, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can look at his mouth, see what his teeth look like and what else might be going on, and give you an idea of what treatments might be needed. I hope that everything goes well for him.

July 23, 2020

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German Shepherd

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Three Years

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9 found helpful

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9 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Chattering Jaw & Front Left Leg Pain

Hello my female German Shepard has been experiencing front left leg pain due to playing to hard in the yard and possibly pulled a muscle, but now her jaw just starts twitching and going crazy. She has never done this before. What could this mean and what's my options for solutions?

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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9 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There is a large nerve bundle in the shoulder, and if one of those nerve parts is injured, it may affect the others. If her lameness is not improving, and the jaw twitching is starting to happen, it may be a good idea to have her seen by your veterinarian. Some anti-inflammatory medication might help quite a bit, and most OTC pain medications for people are toxic to dogs. Your veterinarian will be able to examine her, make sure nothing more serious is going on, and get her medication so that she feels better more quickly. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 17, 2020

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