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What is Keeping His Mouth Open?

A dog can have many different expressions throughout the day and night. He may also do some odd behaviors and have different, atypical expressions. A dog may keep his mouth open for a variety of reasons. If he is keeping his mouth open and he doesn’t normally do that particular behavior or expression, then you may notice it immediately. 

You may also notice if he is panting when his mouth is open, or looks as if he is having trouble breathing or is congested. If your dog is keeping his mouth open, and is not willing to close it, then you should contact your veterinarian. Causes can include:

  • Panting for temperature regulation
  • Trigeminal neuritis
  • Tooth abscess
  • Nasal congestion

Why Keeping His Mouth Open Occurs in Dogs

If your dog is keeping his mouth open, he may be experiencing a symptom of an underlying disorder. Reasons your dog may be doing this for a prolonged period include:

Panting for Temperature Regulation

Your dog may simply be trying to cool down his body by panting with his mouth open. The air circulates through your dog’s body and helps him when he is too warm.

Trigeminal Neuritis

Also referred to as mandibular paralysis, trigeminal neuritis is paralysis of a dog’s muscles used for chewing. When inflammation in the trigeminal nerves occurs, your dog may keep his mouth open and not have the ability to chew.

Tooth Abscess

If your dog has an abscessed tooth, or any tooth pain, he may want to avoid closing his mouth. He may keep his mouth slightly open in order to avoid touching the tooth with the teeth above or below it.

Nasal Congestion

If your dog suffers from allergies or has a cold, he may have congestion in his nasal passages. Like humans, it may be difficult to breathe through the nose when conditions like this occur, so he may keep his mouth open to ease any breathing difficulties.

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What to do if your Dog is Keeping His Mouth Open

If you notice your dog keeping his mouth open for a prolonged period of time and he cannot eat or drink in a normal way, you should contact your veterinarian. Once you arrive at the veterinarian’s office, he will immediately begin to assess his symptoms. He will need more information from you regarding your dog’s behavior. He may want to know how long your dog has been having the symptoms of his mouth being open and if he is having any pain and discomfort, or other symptoms such as drooling or panting.

Your medical professional may perform a complete physical examination, along with a urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and blood work. He may also choose to conduct imaging of your dog’s jaws and mouth to check for any trauma or tooth abscess. If he suspects a neurological condition, he may perform a neurological examination to check for any nerve abnormalities, such as trigeminal neuritis. 

Once your dog is diagnosed with a condition, your veterinarian will give you treatment options in order to help him recover. Treatment depends on the condition your dog has been diagnosed with.

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Prevention of Keeping His Mouth Open

It will be difficult to prevent your dog from having certain underlying health issues that would cause him to keep his mouth open. However, there may be things you can do to possibly minimize the chances. Being proactive in your dog’s overall health is key to ensuring he is less prone to developing conditions such as tooth abscess or nasal congestion. When you take your dog to the veterinarian for his routine visits, the medical professional will check his teeth and gums each time. This can help prevent a painful tooth abscess from forming. Also, if your dog has allergies and gets nasal congestion from time to time, knowing which medication to give him (prescribed by your veterinarian, of course) will minimize the need to have his mouth open in order to breathe.

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Cost of Keeping His Mouth Open

The cost of allergy care for your dog may be approximately $350. The cost of a tooth abscess treatment will be about $1200.

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Keeping His Mouth Open Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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Rottweiler

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Mouth Open, Constant Shaking Of Head, Is Having Trouble Licking Or Taking Treats Normally

I am worried about our family dog. I have noticed her doing this for the past few days. I have gently touched her teeth and she is eating but , I have never seen her do this before and it worries me alot. Please tell me what is wrong with her.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your description, it is possible that she has a deep ear infection, or a muscle disease. Since it doesn't seem to be getting better, it would probably be best to have her examined by a veterinarian, as they can look at her, see what might be going on, and get treatment for her. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Chihuahua

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8 1/2

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My 8 1/2 Year Old Chihuahua All Of A Sudden Has A Noisy And Sometimes Irregular Breathing Like She Is Congested,Mouth Parted Open Sometimes, Odd Breathing Most Of The Time Like Its Labored, Weak Acting, Look In Eyes Is Dazed And Confused And Watery, Nose Is Now Dried Out This Is Day 3, Slow Reaction, Wont Eat, But Drinks And Wants More Water Than Usual,Feels Warm At Times, She Was Absolutely Fine The Night Before All This Happened And I Came Home Feom Work And Now She Has Been Like This.

whats causing her to be all of a sudden dazed and confused, no energy, wont eat, she will drink water, breathing labored, mouth parted open, feels warm,

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that your dog is not feeling well. It is difficult to say without examining her, but it sounds very much like she may be having a problem with her heart or lungs. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian right away, as they can examine her, see what might be going on, and get any treatment that she needs. I hope that she is okay.

July 31, 2020

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Brutus

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Pomeranian

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18 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Open Mouth
Does Not Eat
Sagging Tail

Hi. My Pomeranian of 1 and a half years have been having trouble with his mouth open for around two months and he has visited a specialist. Nothing is broken and they said that he just does it. But this is affecting his eating and drinking habits. He was placed on antibiotics for his liver problem but he is restless again and can only eat finely blended rice and chicken as pellets are too difficult to eat. He swallows pellets whole which is definitely not good.

July 28, 2018

Brutus' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There are any reasons for what might be going on with Brutus, and without seeing him, I can't say for sure what might be happening. Since you have seen a specialist with him, it would be very reasonable to call them and see what more can be done, as they have examined him and know more about his situation.

July 28, 2018

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Kilo

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Pit bull

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Gums

I was not sure where to post this. My dogs gums do not seem to be growing correctly. There is an indent where his big teeth change to the front teeth. Pretty big indent. Also his upper inside gum seem to be attached to his gums. What is this from. Wish I could attach a picture of it

July 8, 2018

Kilo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Kilo may be missing some teeth if there seems to be a gap or indent behind his canine teeth. Unfortunately, without seeing his mouth, I'm not sure if he has normal gums and teeth or if he has a problem. If he is eating and drinking normally otherwise, it would be something that you can bring up at his next routine care appointment with your veterinarian, but if it seems to be affecting his eating or life, it may be something that you want to make an appointment for to have him examined.

July 8, 2018

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Sparkles

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Chihuahua

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I just adopted a Chihuahua mix I been noticing that she keep her mouth open A Lot and the only time she keeps it close is when she is sleeping is it Normal for her to keep her mouth open all day?

July 2, 2018

Sparkles' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It doesn't seem complete normal to keep her mouth open for Sparkles, as she should be able to rest comfortable with her mouth closed the majority of the time. Since I can't see her, it may be a good idea to have her examined by a veterinarian to assess her teeth and mouth and see if there is something going on with her, or if that is just her normal behavior.

July 2, 2018

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Snoopy

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toy poodle

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Open Mouth

he can’t close his mouth I don’t know if it because I gave him an orange or if it was because he was under my tanning chair and I went to put my phone down and hit him in the head with my phone and now he can’t close his mouth but he is breathing fine

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Snoopy

dog-breed-icon

toy poodle

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

None

He can’t close his mouth he ate oranges so I don’t know if that gave him allergies but I also went to put my phone down and it hit him on the head because he’s under my tanning chair so I don’t know it it would be from that.

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Stitch

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Puggle

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Nose
Open Mouth

My puggle,Stitch has kept his mouth open for the past few days. He’s eating and drinking, slowly. Kinda like I do when I can’t breathe through my nose when I’m stuffy. He has really bad allergies and Florida has hit the pollen season, which is bad. I’m assuming it’s his allergies as he let me check his mouth and feel around his mouth. I gave him a Claritin like his old vet recommended and his nose started to run(normal Claritin).What can I do to make this better for him?

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