The most common reason dogs chatter their teeth when sleeping is because they’re cold. Dogs naturally sleep in packs to keep warm and to retain body heat. By taking this natural instinct away, they may get cold while sleeping. Other reasons for teeth chattering include tooth pain, anxiety, and age.
Have you ever awoken to a strange noise coming from your dog’s mouth while he is sleeping? If you look closely, do you see his teeth chattering? What makes a dog’s teeth chatter, and what can you do about it?
There’s a lot we still don’t know about dogs. Although we know some of the reasons dogs chatter their teeth while sleeping, researchers admit that there’s probably more to it than we understand.
With that said, in today’s guide, we will go over the reasons researchers are sure about and then discuss what you can do to put an end to teeth chattering if it’s becoming a problem.
Common Reasons Why Dogs Teeth Chatter When Sleeping
Take a look at the list of eight reasons below and ask yourself if any of these could be why your dog is chattering their teeth.
1. Your Dog is Too Cold
Dog’s teeth can chatter when they are too cold. If you notice your pup’s teeth chattering while he sleeps, he may not be getting enough warmth.
Typically, dogs sleep in packs, which helps them retain more heat and keep warm overnight. If you notice this, consider getting a blanket or warmer bedding for your little one. You may even want to consider a burrow bed if you live in a cold climate area.
There are also doggie flannel pajamas for pups who have very thin hair. Ensure that the additional bedding or pajamas are not too hot, as that can also create discomfort for your dog.
If your dog sleeps outside, you’ll want to avoid putting their bed directly on the ground. This will make it difficult for your dog to retain body heat. If possible, place the bed on a raised surface such as a wooden pallet.
2. Your Dog is Excited
Dogs also chatter their teeth when they are feeling excited about something. Perhaps your dog smells something that is making him or her feel very excited.
This can happen when your dog smells yummy bacon or other savory meats being made at breakfast time, while he or she is still sleeping.
This can also happen when your dog is dreaming about something exciting, such as chasing a rabbit or playing with their new friend they just met at the park.
If chattering teeth while sleeping doesn’t happen often, there’s a good chance the teeth are chattering because of a dream.
3. Dental Problems
Both minor and major dental problems can cause teeth chattering. If your dog has a sore tooth causing a lot of pain, you might see him chattering.
Typically, this can be fixed quite easily. However, there are also major types of dental problems, such as periodontal disease, which can lead to bone loss and damage to teeth and gums.
It also causes bad breath, which is one sign that your pup might need a dental check-up. Periodontal diseases are much more common in smaller dogs, but can still affect large dogs.
4. Your Dog is Scared
When dogs are scared, they display several unique behavioral indicators. One of the behaviors you may see is teeth chattering.
While it’s less common for this to happen while the dog is sleeping, it can occur. Your dog may sense something in the area that is making him feel afraid. They could also be having a bad dream that’s causing movement of the jaw.
5. Your Dog Has a Health Problem
You might not realize that your dog’s teeth chattering could signify that he or she is experiencing a significant health condition.
Specifically, your dog could be having a seizure or some other type of neurological condition.
Likewise, dogs may have similar problems when their blood sugar gets too low, which could occur in dogs with diabetes.
If you notice the teeth chattering and have not yet ruled out a medical condition, consider checking with your vet as soon as possible!
6. Your Dog Could Be Hurt
When dogs are in pain, you may notice that they chatter their teeth. The pain could be something as simple as having a foreign object lodged in a paw, or it could be something more significant such as an acute injury.
Some pain is long-lasting, like in the case of arthritis. In contrast, other pain can be temporary, such as minor injury.
The reason dogs will express their pain while sleeping instead of when they’re awake is because dogs try to hide their pain while awake. Showing pain is a sign of weakness and could make them easy prey out in the wild.
When the dog goes to sleep, the body might express the pain through teeth chattering.
7. The Enamel Is Worn Down
When dog’s age, the enamel on their teeth wears down naturally. Like in humans, this can lead to pain when air, water, or food touch the tooth.
Some dogs sleep with their mouth open, which means air is coming into contact with the enamel that is worn down. This can cause an involuntary reaction that looks like chattering teeth.
If you notice a lot of drool or a bad odor, ask your vet to check if your dog’s tooth enamel is okay.
8. Your Dog is Getting Older
In many cases, your dog’s teeth could chatter simply because he or she is getting older. As dog’s age, their jaw muscles become weak and can sometimes spasm.
While you want to check with a vet just to be sure, there are many cases where there is no other reason for the chattering while your dog sleeps aside from your dog aging.
What Can I Do About My Dog’s Teeth Chattering While He Sleeps?
In most cases, chattering teeth is nothing to be concerned about, but if it’s bothering you, here are some things you can do to try to fix the issue.
Keep Your Dog Warm
If your dog’s chattering teeth are from the frigid air, you can quickly remedy the situation without a vet visit.
In this case, simply warm your dog. This can be done through purchasing warmer bedding, adding some cozy blankets that you already have at home, getting doggie pajamas, or keeping your dog in a warm room.
Calm Your Dog
If the chattering is due to emotions such as fear or anxiety, try to soothe your dog. An overly excited or scared dog may or may not need to visit the vet.
In some cases, dog’s respond to their owners’ attempts to calm them. When attempting to calm your dog, try holding them while talking quietly to them. If that doesn’t work, a visit to the vet will be needed.
Get a Dental Check-Up
Since tooth enamel and other dental problems can lead to teeth chattering, it is imperative to have your dog’s dental health explored if they are constantly chattering their teeth while sleeping.
This may include X-rays, a manual examination of the mouth, and other techniques to look for damage.
If you notice terrible breath, excessive drooling, or blood near the mouth, make sure to ask your vet to look at your dog’s mouth.
There are several preventative measures you can take to protect your dog’s dental health, such as using powder on his food, getting an annual tooth cleaning, and brushing your dog’s teeth.
Ask Your Vet About Health Risks
Aside from dental issues, teeth chattering can be caused by medical problems like seizures or diabetes.
If your pet has not been diagnosed with any medical conditions, you will want to mention this to the vet so that testing can be done.
If your puppy has a known medical condition, make sure to mention the teeth chattering to the vet and inquire whether there are any steps to make your pup more comfortable.
If the teeth chattering is due to natural aging, there is nothing that you can do. For your own peace of mind, you will still want to rule out medical or dental issues that you might be unaware of without a wellness visit.
After ruling out other causes, if you have an elderly dog, knowing that it is more common in older dogs may provide peace of mind.
Teeth Chattering is Completely Normal
Just because your dog is chattering their teeth while sleeping doesn’t mean something is wrong. If it’s an ongoing issue, take your dog to the vet to get an exam just to be on the safe side.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.