Many people would chalk off whatever strange noises their four-legged friends make as an amusing quirk. However, if you’re a cautious and observant pet owner, the occurrence of your dog’s jaw chattering has the potential of becoming a pressing question. Rightfully so, of course, since it can allude to various health issues amongst canines. Therefore, it’s always worthwhile to be attentive from the get-go when it comes to a pet’s health.
A dog’s bottom jaw chattering or quivering could be due to a neurological disorder (partial or focal seizures), oral/dental issues (tooth abscess or gum infection), or it could simply be a behavioral characteristic that is situational and completely normal amongst animals. In case of a severe health issue, it’s best to make an appointment with a veterinarian who can pinpoint the cause and suggest treatment.
Nonetheless, it’s always helpful to do research of your own regarding a dog’s jaw chattering and pay attention to whatever additional signs your dog is showing so that you don’t waste your or the vet’s time with something trivial.
Top 7 Reasons Your Dog’s Jaw Chatter:
There can certainly be a myriad of causes and factors that may contribute to a dog’s jaw chattering. The good news, however, is that the majority of them are not due to serious health emergencies. Those harmless non-medical causes are stated as following:
1- Scent Collection:
Often, a dog begins to chatter its jaw after smelling another dog’s rear end or when it smells a spot another dog has peed on.
This kind of jaw chattering is more common amongst male dogs.
Additionally, it’s believed that male dogs use this chattering technique to decipher a female dog’s mating signal who use urine to announce that they’re in ‘heat.’
This is undoubtedly the most quintessential dog thing you’ve ever heard.
Due to the incredible sense of taste and smell that dogs have, their jaws sometimes chatter after they lick something. It’s an impulsive reaction and is only caused by their senses getting overwhelmed.
It is more prevalent amongst older dogs than younger ones, probably due to weakness and low energy. Therefore, you need not bother hunting for other reasons if you’re aware that your dog is old.
2- Anxiety or Stress:
If your dog is highly stressed out or the type to be nervous easily, then the jaw chattering is something that can be attributed to it.
The anxiety can be induced from an uncomfortable living environment, thunderstorms, natural disasters, unfamiliar dogs/people/places, gun shootings, or just loud noise in general.
It can even be a result of any past trauma experienced by the dog, which is why this type of jaw chattering is more common amongst rescue dogs.
It’s simply a coping mechanism for them to stay calm when they feel threatened!
A sure way to determine if this is the reason for their bottom jaw chattering is to see if it only lasts throughout the stressful incident and stops after.
Also, it helps to examine whether they’re doing it while sniffing, eating, or socializing so that you can identify the cause of their anxiety as well.
3- Excitement or Joy:
This reason for a dog’s jaw chattering is somewhat similar to anxiety or stress since it’s an emotional response as well.
Dogs are inherently excitable, energetic, and upbeat animals.
Hence, the anticipation of a treat, playing catch with their owner, finding their favorite toy, meeting another dog, or even seeing their owner come back home can elicit physical manifestations, i.e., jaw chattering.
This is, of course, completely harmless and not a threat to the canine’s health.
4- Changes In Temperature:
Similar to humans, dogs chatter their teeth when they’re cold as well. It’s simply their body’s response if it gets hard to withstand the coldness.
The dog breeds that find it the hardest to tolerate rising cold temperatures and, as a result, are more susceptible to jaw chattering are Basenjis, greyhounds, whippets, pharaoh hounds, Italian greyhounds, etc.
If you find a cold temperature is the cause of your dog’s bottom jaw chattering, then it’s better if you skip the vet’s appointment altogether and simply provide a warmer environment to curb the issue.
5- A Way Of Communicating:
Just like barking and other body language they utilize, dogs can chatter their jaws to send a message to other dogs as well. It’s a form of socializing for them and communicates excitement and intensity.
Also, it’s a kind of “displacement language” when they feel like they’re under attack and want to distract their attacker. This could happen when they meet someone new or when you have guests over that they might not trust.
Now that we’ve effectively covered all the mild and harmless causations of dogs’ bottom jaw chattering, it’s time to focus on the more severe ones.
The serious health issues that might make a dog’s jaw chatter are stated as following:
6- Neurological Disorders:
A dog’s bottom jaw continuously chattering can potentially be a huge indicator of neurological issues like epilepsy and other seizure disorders. These are usually not accompanied by situational and environmental factors but are rather sudden and random.
You’ll likely be able to tell it’s a seizure and save your pet from serious harm due to their spontaneous occurrence.
Additionally, you can inspect your dog’s pupils to see any unnatural dilation or observe any peculiarity in their gait since it could be a sign of them suffering from “shaker syndrome.”
In case your findings lead you to conclude that your pet dog may be plagued with neurological issues, it’s advised to contact the veterinarian for an appointment quickly.
7- Dental or Oral Issues:
Dental issues may cause your dog to grind its teeth and chatter its jaw. It’s an instinctual way for them to respond to toothaches and various other pains. Not to mention, younger dogs (i.e., puppies) are teething, and their bottom jaw can chatter due to that too.
Additionally, there are multiple other oral diseases that lead to jaw chattering, one of which is “periodontal disease,” that’s quite possibly the most common cause of dogs’ jaw chattering.
It’s an extremely painful condition in which the dog’s gums are inflamed, and the bacteria inside them deteriorates the teeth, bone, and tissue.
You can tell if your dog has it if their jaw chattering is accompanied by bad breath, teeth falling, losing tooth enamel, and difficulty in eating. Small dogs, for instance, Pomeranians, are actually quite prone to teeth issues.
Harmless Vs. Severe Dog Chattering Problems:
To put things into context, we’ll present you with situations regarding dogs’ jaw chattering so that you can compare them to your dog’s issue and determine what’s wrong.
Instances In Which It Is Harmless:
- If your dog’s jaw only chatters while sniffing or smelling.
- If your dog’s jaw chatters after licking something.
- If your dog’s chattering only occurs while meeting other dogs.
- If the jaw chattering is triggered by moments of excitement or anxiety
- If your dog’s jaw chattering only lasts for a short period of time.
Instances In Which It Is Dangerous:
- If bad breath and pools of drool goes hand in hand with your dog’s jaw chattering.
- If your dog is avoiding chewing food or eats slower than usual.
- If your dog is shying away from getting petted on the head.
- If your dog’s pupils become unnaturally dilated.
- If the jaw chattering happens while your dog is sleeping.
What Can You Do Once You Notice The Jaw Chattering?
If you’ve determined that there’s a need to take your dog to the vet’s office, you ought to make an appointment. It’s highly advisable to go prepared with all the information you’ve collected while observing your dog’s jaw chattering because it’ll make the diagnosis process more quick and efficient.
The vet will inquire regarding what you know and will start the examination with some preliminary neurological observations themselves.
This is followed by a comprehensive physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, and biochemistry profile of your dog.
Additionally, a thorough dental examination and neurological testing will also take place, so that the vet is able to pinpoint the exact cause of the jaw chattering.
If your dog turns out to be in a serious condition, you need not fret! All hope is not lost. With some patience and effort, you’ll surely be able to nurse your furry companion back to health.
You’ll have to seek professional treatment and follow the vet’s advice to prevent your dog’s health from worsening.
Even after your dog’s health gets significantly better, you still ought to bring it around for consistent dental check-ups to deter the jaw chattering issue from dominating again.
What Are The Medical Costs Of Diagnosing Jaw Chattering?
The cost of diagnosing and treating seizure disorders and neurological issues may range from 2500$ to 3500$ along with tests and medications.
Whereas, it costs around 1200$ to treat dental issues in relation to jaw chattering.
These are pretty hefty amounts to pay out of pocket but are easier to deal with if you have pet health insurance for your dog.
In conclusion, dealing with a dog’s bottom jaw chattering can be an overwhelming ordeal since there’s a spectrum of reasons behind it.
Nevertheless, we hope the information we’ve compiled for you will assist you in making an informed decision regarding the chattering being a canine oddity or there being a need to seek professional help for your furry friend at the vet’s office.
To summarize, your dog’s bottom jaw chatter is likely to be safe if it’s situational and periodic. It’s only a problem if the chattering is random, uncontrollable, and consistent.