Is Your Dog Making Crunching Noises With Its Mouth?

Dog making crunching noises with mouth
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Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Irritating- yet worrying- at the same time.

Why does your dog keep making crunching noises for no apparent reason?

If you find your dog making crunching noises with its mouth (without something actually being in its mouth), here are some of the biggest potential causes you should watch out for:

Causes

yawning dog under a blanket, isolated on  white

Discomfort

Your dog could be making this crunching noise due to undiagnosed pain. Similar to how we wince when we get hurt, dogs can use a crunching noise to communicate that they’re in pain.

Examine their body language for other signs that they’re in pain, such as limping or shaking. Signs could also include yelping when touched, sitting down abruptly, as well as a general lack of energy.

Teething

Dogs go through teething. However, it’s a little different than what human babies experience.

Puppies receive their teeth after a couple of weeks, but adult teeth eventually replace these. To deal with the pain of their new teeth coming in, dogs may start to grind their teeth– and thereby causing a crunching sound.

Jaw Issues

Your dog may have a jaw that’s causing them problems. For instance, if they have an overbite, they may have trouble keeping their mouth closed. In their frustration, they could begin making this grinding noise.

Stress

Stress can lead to some very worrisome behaviors in dogs.

If your dog has been going through some difficult changes, such as moving or adjusting to your new home, they may start making a crunching noise.

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Look for ways you can calm them, and monitor the frequency of this behavior as well as situations where it’s most prominent.

Health Issues

Young female veterinarian examining dog tooth at the veterinarian clinic

Your dog’s crunching could also indicate a deeper issue, such as one involving a health problem that could be affecting other parts of their body and/or mind.

Oral Health

Your dog may be dealing with oral health issues, such as a tooth abscess or periodontal disease. There may also be a broken or missing tooth that’s causing them pain.

If this is the case, they could be feeling especially sensitive around their mouth or head and not be willing to let you pet them there.

Seizures

If your dog is prone to seizures, it may start crunching its teeth as a symptom.

Mental Issues

Your dog may also have a neurological condition that leads to the crunching noise.

Other signs of a neurological problem can include dilated pupils, looking around frantically, and generally awkward movements that indicate trouble with balance.

Crunching In Their Sleep

Beagle dog sleeping on sofa

You may find that your dog is doing most of its crunching while unconscious.

If you’ve observed your dog making mouth noises in their sleep, it’s further evidence of them being in pain or dealing with a seizure disorder and stress.

This condition is known as bruxism and is similar to how people will grind their teeth in their sleep when going through stressful times or dealing with anxiety.

Weather Changes

Has your dog started crunching as the temperatures drop?

Similar to humans, dogs can respond to cold weather by chattering their teeth.

This may not be the only reason for their crunching, but it can be a good motivator for you to make sure your household is not too cold for them– especially where they sleep.

Treatment

Young female veterinarian examining dog.

Seeing your dog dealing with this kind of discomfort is alarming. However, you don’t need to let either of you suffer in uncertainty. Get this situation addressed right away by visiting a vet.

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Veterinary Appointments

When you take your dog to the vet, they’ll examine them for any physical health issues that may cause the grinding.

Should there not be any obvious culprits their diagnosis will likely go to other contributing factors, such as a change in routine.

Your vet can offer good advice on making your dog more comfortable and reducing the crunching.

They may also refer you to a dog behaviorist who may be able to examine your dog more intensely. Ask about any pain relief medication available for your dog, should the grinding be caused by discomfort.

Behaviorist Appointments

A behaviorist is similar to a vet.

In fact, many behaviorists are certified as vets. However, their focus is more on the psychological rather than the physical.

Think of it like the difference between a general practitioner and a psychiatrist. A behaviorist can also prescribe medication for your dog, along with gathering information regarding what led to their crunching.

Is All Crunching A Cause For Concern?

Excited dog in black and white

Your dog crunching their teeth once, or under certain conditions, isn’t anything to be too concerned about. Dogs can make different sounds for different reasons. Sometimes, you can draw conclusions that indicate nothing is wrong.

Excitement

Some situations are bound to get your dog riled up.

These could be positive ones, such as you coming home from work, as well as more uncomfortable ones (like them meeting other dogs). In the process, they could start making noise with their teeth.

Sniffing

Dogs don’t solely rely on their noses when utilizing their sharp sense of smell. They can pick up scents with their mouth. To deploy this, they may begin grinding their mouth.

Can This Be Unlearned?

Girl with her dog in a meadow

Under many circumstances, yes, your dog can be taught to stop grinding their teeth.

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However, you can’t just force them to stop. They’re not doing it because they want to. They’re doing it to help themselves through other difficult situations.

Below are a few ways that can help your dog minimize their crunching behavior:

Reduce Stress

Find ways to lessen your dog’s stress as best you can.

If you’ve moved, you won’t be able to bring them back to the house they grew so fond of. However, you can set up your new home in a way that reminds them of the fond memories formed there.

Behavioral Training

Your dog’s crunching could be a sign that they’re overdue for some general behavioral training.

This is especially true if you recently adopted them and have difficulty getting them to obey you.

Their therapy could also address things like constant barking and aggressiveness towards strangers.

Knowing Triggers

If certain conditions cause your dog to make this crunching noise, try your best to keep them out of these situations.

They may be particularly nervous around other dogs and make this noise as a defense mechanism.

Don’t put your dog in any situation they don’t want to be in unless you absolutely have to, such as going to the vet.

If they’re in an uncomfortable environment and begin crunching or grinding their teeth, help them to relax. Your presence could put them at ease and help them to feel less fearful.

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