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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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Keeping His Mouth Open Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Sparkles
Chihuahua
4 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

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?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 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.

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Kilo
Pit bull
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

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

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 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.

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Brutus
Pomeranian
18 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

sagging tail
Open mouth
does not eat

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.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 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.

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