Why Does My Dog Grind His Teeth?

Imagine you’re enjoying a quiet evening, a book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, when suddenly, you hear a peculiar sound.

It’s a repetitive, grating noise, a rhythm that is both unexpected and unnerving.

After a moment of confusion, you realize it’s coming from your canine companion – your dog is grinding his teeth.

If you’ve ever found yourself in such a scenario, you’ve probably wondered, “Why does my dog grind his teeth?”

In the paragraphs that follow, we’ll unravel this mystery, piecing together the puzzle that is canine teeth grinding, or as it’s officially known, bruxism.

Recognizing Dog Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

What Does Dog Teeth Grinding Sound and Look Like?

Dog teeth grinding can be a quiet act, a stealthy whisper in the midst of everyday life, or it can be loud and alarming.

It often sounds like hard objects being rubbed together, like someone grinding a pestle against a mortar.

Visually, it might look like your dog is excessively chewing but without anything in his mouth.

His jaw may move from side to side, or there might be a back-and-forth motion, as if your pup were trying to get a stubborn piece of food unstuck from his teeth.

Other Symptoms Accompanying Teeth Grinding

Bruxism isn’t usually a solitary act.

It’s a part of a chorus, a group of symptoms singing in unison to tell you something’s amiss.

Your dog might drool more than usual, have bad breath, or show reluctance to eat or chew toys.

Look out for changes in his behavior too, like increased irritability or seeming to be in pain when his mouth or face is touched.

Causes Of Teeth Grinding In Dogs

Dental Problems

Just as a tree reveals its age through its rings, a dog’s mouth can narrate tales of dental woes.

Broken or loose teeth, gum diseases, or growths in the mouth can all lead to discomfort and subsequently, teeth grinding.

Your dog is trying to alleviate the pain, but in doing so, might be causing more harm to his dental health.

Misaligned Teeth

In some dogs, particularly brachycephalic breeds with pushed-in faces like Bulldogs and Pugs, the upper and lower teeth don’t line up correctly.

This misalignment, known as malocclusion, can lead to abnormal wear and tear and can instigate teeth grinding.

Stress And Anxiety

Did you know that just like humans, dogs can grind their teeth in response to stress and anxiety?

If your furry friend has been through recent changes such as moving homes, a new family member, or even a change in his daily routine, the emotional turmoil might manifest as bruxism.

Gastrointestinal Discomfort

One of the lesser-known causes of teeth grinding is gastrointestinal discomfort.

Conditions such as gastritis, intestinal parasites, or even food allergies can cause your dog to grind his teeth.

When To Seek Veterinary Help

Chronic Teeth Grinding

Just as a little cough now and then isn’t a big worry, an occasional grind isn’t a major cause for concern.

But if your dog’s teeth grinding becomes chronic, if it’s the melody you wake up to or the lullaby that sends you to sleep, it’s time to seek veterinary advice.

Loss Of Appetite And Changes In Behavior

Is your once food-loving furball turning his nose up at his meals?

Is your normally playful pup showing a lack of interest in his favorite toys or activities?

If teeth grinding is accompanied by such changes, your dog might be in pain, and a visit to the vet is needed.

Blood Or Unusual Discharge

Sometimes, the story the mouth tells is a graphic one.

If you notice blood in your dog’s saliva or any unusual discharge from his mouth, it’s time to get immediate veterinary help.

Such signs could indicate severe dental problems that need prompt attention.

What To Expect During A Vet Visit

Initial Examination

Entering the vet’s office can be a daunting experience, both for you and your dog.

But rest assured, the initial check-up is usually a gentle introduction.

The vet will first conduct a physical examination, looking at your dog’s general health and behavior.

Next comes the oral check-up.

The vet will examine your dog’s mouth, checking for signs of dental issues, abnormal wear on the teeth, or any growths or lesions.

Additional Tests

Sometimes, the initial examination doesn’t provide a clear answer.

In such cases, the vet might recommend additional tests.

X-rays can provide a clearer view of the teeth, jaw, and overall oral structure, highlighting any hidden issues.

Blood tests can rule out or confirm underlying health issues that might be causing the teeth grinding.

Remember, each of these steps takes you closer to understanding your dog’s behavior and ensuring his well-being.

Treatment Options For Canine Teeth Grinding

Addressing Dental Issues

The course of treatment would depend on the underlying cause of teeth grinding.

If dental issues are to blame, the vet might recommend a professional dental cleaning or in more severe cases, a tooth extraction.

In the case of misaligned teeth, orthodontic treatment might be necessary.

Yes, dog braces are a real thing!

Managing Stress And Anxiety

If your dog’s teeth grinding is stress or anxiety-related, you might need to consider behavioral training.

A professional dog behaviorist can guide you and your pet through this process.

Simple changes in your dog’s environment, like providing a safe and quiet space, can also help reduce anxiety.

Dietary Changes And Medication

Gastrointestinal discomfort can be managed with a combination of dietary changes and medication.

A diet suited to your dog’s needs can go a long way in reducing discomfort.

In some cases, your vet may prescribe medication to control symptoms or treat the underlying condition.

Home Care And Prevention Strategies

Dental Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is as crucial for dogs as it is for humans.

Regular brushing, ideally every day, can keep dental problems at bay.

Dental treats can aid in maintaining dental health, but remember, they are not a substitute for brushing.

Stress Management

Managing your dog’s stress levels involves providing a routine, plenty of exercise, and a safe, comforting environment.

Routine helps dogs feel secure, exercise keeps them mentally and physically healthy, and a safe space gives them a sanctuary when things get overwhelming.

Regular Vet Check-Ups

Regular vet check-ups can help spot potential health issues before they become major problems.

Consider scheduling bi-annual vet visits for your dog, which typically include an oral examination.

Understanding why your dog grinds his teeth involves unraveling a tapestry woven with threads of various colors – dental health, emotional well-being, overall health, and more.

The journey to understanding might seem arduous, but each step you take helps ensure your furry friend’s well-being.

As a pet parent, that’s the most rewarding journey of all, isn’t it?

Before You Go…

Now you know why your dog grinds his teeth.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Dimitra Kokologianni, DVM
Dimitra holds a Masters’s degree in public health and a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. She is a versatile professional with over 7 years of experience. Her passion for animal welfare and preventive medicine makes her an excellent resource for our readers.