Dogs and Teeth Chattering: What You Need to Know


Your dog is chattering and wondering why? Here are some answers that may explain his behavior …

What Happens When your Dog’s Teeth chattering?

The chattering of teeth is due to a rapid and intermittent contraction of the jaw muscles. Most often, this phenomenon occurs most often in a dog subjected to tremors caused by a state of intense stress.

Dog chattering = dog cold?

The tremor can first of all be due to thermal stress. And yes, your dog may just tremble and chatter because he is cold. If necessary, the dog shivering and all its body is agitated by muscular spasms which aim at maintaining a normal body temperature.

There is nothing more normal when the outside temperature flirts with 0 ° C but it can also happen when the temperature does not justify shivering (above 15 ° C which is the optimal temperature for many dogs). In the latter case, you must consult your veterinarian because excessive chilliness in dogs can reveal:

  •  a poor quality coat which does not allow it to retain its body heat well. This can be indicative of a dermatological or endocrine disease,
  •  extreme thinness of your animal which then no longer has enough subcutaneous fat to “isolate” it from the cold,
  •  hypothyroidism that “deregulates” the body’s thermostat,
  •  fever.

My dog ​​is scared

One of the other causes of tremors and chattering is fear. These are neuro-vegetative manifestations which occur in reaction to an intense emotion. In case of fear, these manifestations are not the only ones. They are also accompanied by dilation of the pupils called mydriasis, a bristling of the hair, increased salivation and sometimes urination (dog urine) or involuntary defecation.

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The dog’s posture and behavior also tell us about its fear: its body folds in on itself, its ears are pressed against its skull and its tail is low pressed under its belly. He may then seek to flee, come to a complete stop or attack.

If fear occurs when there is no danger and / or it is permanent, this is not normal. It is therefore useful to conduct a behavioral assessment with a behavioral educator or a behavioral veterinarian to identify the cause of this anxiety and remedy it effectively.

My dog ​​is excited

Tremor and chattering of teeth can also be one of the physical signs of great excitement in dogs. A play session, the return of his master at home after a period of absence, the desire to go meet a fellow man on a walk, hunger or the desire to go to his needs are all opportunities that can raise a dog’s excitement. The other physical signs which betray this state are dilation of the pupils, barking or vocalizations, jumps, gasps, the need to run in all directions…

If a temporary excitation is normal in the dog – and in particular in the young dog -, it becomes abnormal when it is difficult to regulate or moderate in the adult dog. It is better to consult a canine behaviorist educator so that this excitement does not develop into a real behavioral disorder.

When my dog’s teeth chatter, my dog ​​communicates …

Tooth chattering, like barking or gasping, can be unintentionally emitted auditory signals which, in addition to the dog’s body language, inform its counterparts about the emotional state of the animal that emits them. In this sense, we can say that it is one of the components of the dog ‘s sound communication.

My dog ​​perceives pheromones

The dog can also chatter his teeth when he perceives the pheromones left by his fellows. These are secretions which are real chemical messengers between dogs and which play, among other functions, a primordial role in reproduction.

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To perceive them, the dog uses his vomero-nasal organ. Located under the nasal mucosa, this organ opens out through two orifices in the oral cavity behind the incisors and stimulates the accessory olfactory bulb of the dog, a particular region of the brain capable of interpreting the olfactory messages conveyed by pheromones.

To bring pheromones to this organ, the dog slightly opens its mouth, sucks in air, saliva, sometimes licks the urine emitted by bitches in heat and can chatter teeth. This particular behavior is called the flehmen.

Did you know ?

Flehmen is originally a German term meaning “raising the upper lip”.