As winter approaches, the familiar sound of chattering teeth can be heard at bus stops, train stations, and on every street corner. It’s often a harmless, natural bodily reaction to try and retain some heat. But what does it mean when your dog’s teeth chatter? Could it be a sign of something more sinister? Plus, what can you do as an owner to try and remedy it? Below, we will outline common causes of chattering teeth in dogs, and cover practical steps you can take to tackle the issue.
Your dog's teeth may chatter for medical reasons
While that repetitive and often short-lived sound may appear mildly irritating, teeth chattering could be a sign of a serious problem. One such common problem is periodontal disease. That is a nasty gum disease that can lead to serious pain and discomfort. Your dog’s immune system will react to bacteria in the mouth as foreign invaders and a whole host of responses will begin, one of which could be teeth chattering.
Another well-known cause of teeth chattering in dogs is epilepsy. This is seen more in dogs than it is in humans and it can be caused by any number of things, from allergies to tumors. Keeping a close eye on what your dog eats and seeking medical attention if your dog starts to have seizures is imperative, as a seizure could be life-threatening.
Although not a medical reason of sorts, a senior dog will sometimes experience teeth chattering simply as a sign of aging. If your mature furry companion is chattering their teeth a lot, consult the vet to rule out a medical issue like tooth decay.
Behavioral causes may cause teeth chattering
While your dog’s teeth could be chattering for medical reasons, it could also be totally harmless. Does that familiar sound begin just before a walk, or before food? If so, it could well be a natural bodily response to when your dog feels excited.
Alternatively, does the chattering sound start when they are around dogs they do not know, or when they are in an unfamiliar place? If yes, then chattering could be a sign your dog is feeling unsafe and threatened.
It is also worth noting, chattering could simply be a sign your dog is cold, just like it often is in humans! All of these behavioral reasons hold weight because they were investigated and proposed in the widely regarded book, ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’.
How can I stop the teeth chattering?
The first thing to do is to monitor your dog to ascertain what triggers that unmistakable sound. If it occurs when it is unusually cold, invest in a doggie jumper or something that will keep your pup warm and toasty. Alternatively, snuggle on the couch with your dog and a blanket and watch a good movie.
If the chattering sound starts when they come into close contact with dogs they do not know or when you visit unfamiliar places, try and comfort your pooch and make them feel safe. Putting yourself between your dog and the unknown canine may make them feel more at ease, as will showering them with cuddles and attention. When in new surroundings, talk your pup through their nervousness by speaking in a happy and confident tone.
However, if you suspect your dog’s teeth are chattering as a result of an underlying medical condition, advice from your local vet should be sought promptly.
Pay attention to the situation
Chattering teeth in your dog is often harmless and simply be a sign your canine friend is chilly. But, it could also be as a result of your dog being extremely excited, or scared and intimidated. However, there is also the chance that it is an indicator of a more serious condition, such as an oral disease. If you suspect it is the latter, swift advice and treatment should be sought from your local vet.