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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 symptoms 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, such as the late stages of distemper, may 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 companion’s eyes, pupil dilation, his jaw, and his gait when walking. These are preliminary neurological observations that he may choose to do. 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 may then perform a complete physical examination, complete with 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 perform imaging on your pet’s jaw 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. Once all of the testing is complete, your veterinarian will be able to discern between something health-wise and an anxiety issue. He may also be able to conclude he is chattering due to excitement or being too 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, or not worry about it at all. However, if his jaw chattering is a sign of a more serious condition, you may want to try to prevent it by making sure you 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 $2500. If your veterinarian diagnoses an abscessed tooth, the expense to fix it may be approximately $1200.

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Jaw Chattering Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Pomeranian

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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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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0 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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Unknown severity

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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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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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Guinea

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Shih Tzu

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Jaw Chattering

My dog will occasionally tremble and shake his chin/jaw repeatedly for a few minuets. We often get quite scared when he does this because we know it is early stages of seizures or disorders. Last night he started chattering his jaw, looking confused. The last time I saw him do this was a few months ago. My dog is a shih tzu, and is nearly ten years old. Is there any way we can get more information or help for this?

Aug. 11, 2018

Guinea's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

There is no single cause (or treatment) for jaw chattering and without examining Guinea I cannot say whether this would be considered ‘normal’ behaviour or if it is due to some disease or other condition (dental disorders, stress, neurological conditions among others). This would be something to see your Veterinarian about to see if they are able to narrow in on a specific cause or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 12, 2018

Thank you. I am sure to take this into consideration.

Aug. 15, 2018

Guinea's Owner

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Chica

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Bichon Frise

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Watery Stool

I'm not 100% sure how old my dog is but she is at least 12 years old. She recently started having trouble closing her jaw. It's trembles as she tries to close it. We have two dogs so I never really know if they're both eating, but the older one has recently started having watery poop so I'm afraid she might not be eating properly. I don't know if the two are connected but I'm just concerned that she isn't eating.

June 26, 2018

Chica's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If Chica has pain in her jaw, you may be right, and she may not be eating enough. As dogs age, things sometimes happen, and it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian, and probably have x-rays of that jaw, to see what is going on with her and get treatment for her.

June 26, 2018

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Zeus

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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Tooth Pain

My dog Zeus, a Staffordshire bull terrier, is grinding his teeth. He does this with his face pressed on people's legs. He is also being sick often after he drinks water

May 1, 2018

Zeus' Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Typically teeth grinding or bruxism is caused by stress, pain, jaw anomalies or stomach pain; without examining Zeus I cannot say what the specific cause is, but you should visit your Veterinarian if there is teeth grinding and is vomiting after drinking water. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/symptom/why-is-my-dog-grinding-his-teeth

May 2, 2018

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Wyatt

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Mixed breed

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14 Years

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Moderate severity

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Jaw Chattering

Hello! My dog, Wyatt, is a 14 years old Cattle Dog/Border Collie mix. A few years ago, about 2016, he was diagnosed with early signs of CKD, loss of protein in his urine to be exact. So vet started him on Enalapril. Around that time he also had about 5 teeth removed. Wyatt has always had bad breath & dental issues since I rescued him in 2006. In early 2018, it was then noticed his RBC was low, mildly anemic, so we started him Sucrlafate & Omeprazole. Again, he had another 5 teeth removed. Now in 2019, in spring Wyatt was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease & now battles severe anemia in which he just recently had a blood transfusion. So, that is Wyatt's recent medical history, just to give you some background. About the time his disc disease become more noticeable, so did the shaking/trembling & chatter of his teeth. Wyatt seems to do mostly around meal time for himself or when we're eating dinner. So it seems related to when he's hungry, but here recently he seems to be doing whenever, couple times a day when it doesn't appear food related. I was told the disc disease is neurological & wondered if that made him hyper/sensitive to his emotions/reactions to things.

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Zeus

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American Pit Bull Terrier

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Jaw Chattering

When my dog smells something (outside for instance, like a spot on a tree or a spot in the grass that a dog has probably peed on) he will sniff INTENTLY start drooling and his jaw will do this small open and shut motion and his teeth click together. Almost like a nursing motion but clearly he has teeth now. Im wondering if its a reaction to the smells but ive never seen a dog click its mouth because it sniffed something

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Blanca

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Olde English Bulldogge

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Jaw Chattering

So about 3 months ago, we noticed our dog Blanca make a very disturbing noise... when she’s done eating, or simply just laying on the couch/bed - and also now it’s come to the point where she does it just randomly when walking etc. She’ll smack her mouth a few times and when she smacks it, she makes an awful loud crunching sound ... it sounds like her teeth are shattering every time she does it! At first, we thought maybe there was food stuck in her teeth/gums that were bothering her but that wasn’t it. Then I thought maybe her teeth were bothering her but her teeth are perfect. It started exactly 3 months ago and it had stopped for almost a month and now it’s back. I’ve had her since she was 10 weeks old; anything she does, I can tell if it’s normal or abnormal as she’s my baby and with me at all times. She’s still eating 100% fine (also on a very expensive diet due to allergies) she drinks, plays, uses the bathroom regularly. Today the crunching was a bit more than usual and she doesn’t seem to have much energy, I’ll definitely be making an appointment tomorrow but I figured I would write my story here to see if someone maybe had an answer :( thank you!

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Naku

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Golden Labrador

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5 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Chattering Jaw
Tooth Falling Off One By One
Bobs Head

Our dog Naku, a Cross breed of a Golden Retriever and Labrador always chatter her jaw like it's an everyday routine for her. I'm afraid that it's a neurological disorder because her tooth came falling off one by one since years ago.

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Shadow

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Dachshund

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12 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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None

Shadow is a 12-year old Mini Doxie with mild hip dysplasia. Recently, he has started chattering his jaw for 10 secinds or so several times throughout the day. He is behaving normally and eating just fine. He has had a few surgeries due to intestinal issues (several years back) but has been very healthy since. He receives vaccines/parasite treatments on time and lives in the house.