Why are My Dog’s Teeth Chattering in Boxborough, MA?

Our animals can act so much like other humans, it’s uncanny. So, what are we to think when we see our dog doing something odd like teeth chattering? It turns out that this could mean one of several things.

Common Reasons for Teeth Chattering in Dogs in Boxborough, MA

Here are some of the common causes of dog teeth chattering.


It’s not uncommon for a dog’s teeth to chatter when he’s feeling cold, much like how our teeth chatter when we’re chilly. This is more prevalent in small dogs like Chihuahuas, as their body temperate runs lower than ours and they have a harder time warming up. What might seem like a perfectly fine temperature to you could be chilly to your dog. If you notice your dog’s teeth chattering in Boxborough, MA when you take him outside on a cooler day or even indoors depending on the temperature of your home, you might want to turn the thermostat up a bit or get him a little coat for his trips outside. In cases of extreme heat or fever, a dog’s teeth may chatter as well but if it’s not persistent there’s no cause for concern.


Your dog’s teeth may start to chatter when he’s excited about something. You may notice this behavior when you’re about to toss him his favorite toy or give him a treat. It can also be common for a dog’s teeth to chatter when he’s excited about his owner coming home. Dog’s teeth can also chatter when they smell or taste something new, unfamiliar, or yummy to them.


Teeth chattering may be a sign that your dog is nervous about something. Some dogs’ teeth will chatter when they’re feeling anxiety or unsure about their surroundings and the chattering of their teeth is a coping mechanism to help them stay calm.

Dr. Lisa Fink, of Cornell University Veterinary Specialists noted that dog teeth chattering and nervousness isn’t breed specific, but she’s seen it most in Greyhounds that came from racing backgrounds and were uneasy in a hospital setting. In dogs experiencing social anxiety, clicking, or chattering of the teeth may also be a way of communicating with other animals.

Teeth Grinding

Some dogs suffer from bruxism or TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) Disorder, which are the technical terms for teeth grinding. If you notice this especially when he’s sleeping, it’s highly probable that he’s grinding his teeth. It’s usually harmless but if it seems excessive you may check with your veterinarian to see if he’s doing any damage to his teeth.

Pain and Discomfort

Teeth chattering can be a presentation of pain in a dog. Sometimes, older dogs’ teeth may chatter when they’re experiencing arthritis or body pain. She may present other odd behaviors like growling which could be an indication that something more serious is going on. If you notice your dog’s behavior changing as well as his teeth chattering, it’s important to get him to the vet to see what the underlying cause is.

Dental Issues

One of the most common reasons for a dog’s persistent teeth chattering is oral issues. Pay attention to what accompanies your dog’s teeth chattering and how he’s behaving.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is when the gums become swollen and bacteria begins to erode the teeth, and the bones and tissue in long term cases.

This is painful and if your dog is experiencing it, you may notice that he only chews on one side of his mouth, or if you find traces of blood on his toys or near his food and water. It’s important to take him to the veterinarian to further examine him and figure out the best course of treatment. There are all kinds of dental chews and treats on the market for preventative maintenance of your dog’s teeth, especially if she’s a breed with a predisposition for dental issues.

Rotten Teeth, Abscesses and Cavities

Rotten teeth, abscesses, or cavities may also result in dog teeth chattering and the surrounding symptoms are the same as those of gum disease. Tooth resorption, or TR, is the breakdown of mineralized tissue. There are seven different types of tooth resorption in dogs varying from mild to severe. Tooth resorption follows five stages:

  • Stage One: Mild loss of dental hard tissue
  • Stage Two: Moderate loss of dental tissue and enamel
  • Stage Three: Deep loss of dental hard tissue and enamel, most of the tooth remains
  • Stage Four: Extensive loss of dental hard tissue, most of the tooth is lost
    • Stage Four A: Crown and root are equally affected
    • Stage Four B: Crown is more severely affected than root
    • Stage Four C: Root is more severely affected than the crown
  • Stage Five: Most of the root and crown are gone

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s oral hygiene and make sure he doesn’t miss any of his wellness visits to the vet as checking the teeth and gums are part of most exams.

Neurological Issues

If your dog’s teeth chattering is persistent it could be a sign of a neurological issue. Pay attention to his behavior, especially the way he moves, and check to see if his pupils are a dilated. A common neurological disorder is Shaker Syndrome, or Generalized Tremor Syndrome. Shaker syndrome is a disorder which causes a dog’s entire body to shake. It is also known as idiopathic cerebellitis, which describes inflammation of the cerebellum (the part of the brain that is responsible for the coordination and regulation of voluntary muscular movement) for unknown reasons.

Shaker Syndrome is essentially swelling of the dog’s brain that results in shaking and seizures. It’s unsure what causes it and it can be mistaken for anxiety or low body temperature. If you think this might be the cause of your dog’s teeth chattering, your vet will want to do blood work, urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel to help diagnose. If diagnosed, Shaker Syndrome can be treated by prescribing steroids to reduce the swelling, and many dogs recover in as soon as a week.

Seizure Disorders

Occasionally, a dog’s teeth clicking, or chattering can be a sign of Epilepsy or other seizure disorders. If it’s happening randomly and accompanied by excessive drooling, dilated pupils or confusion, it’s best to get her to the vet. There are several different medications your vet can prescribe to treat seizure disorders depending on what’s best for your dog’s breed and size and the severity of the disorder.

Talk with a Vet About Your Dog’s Teeth Chattering in Boxborough, MA

Most of the time, your dog’s teeth chattering is nothing to worry about but it’s important to maintain his dental hygiene the same way you do and to be cognizant of any changes in behavior, especially around mealtime. Call (978) 929-9200 or book an appointment online to talk with the team at Veterinary Dental Services about your dog’s teeth chattering in Boxborough, MA!