Have you ever heard a dog grinding his teeth? The grating sound is similar to chalk rubbing on a board (I can already feel the goosebumps on my back). Sometimes your dog can’t help grinding his teeth. It’s the same as us humans who grind our teeth while sleeping.
It’s important to find out why your dog is grinding his teeth. It can lead to some serious problems down the line if nothing is done about it. So, besides being annoying when you’re trying to sleep or watch TV, it’s not good for your dog.
Here’s a very quick answer, followed by some analysis, and whether it’s bad for a dog to grind their teeth.
Why does my dog grind his teeth? Dogs will grind their teeth for reasons including jaw or mouth pain, misalignment, an underlying health problem, or even stress. Dogs can grind their teeth at night, when sleeping, yawning, or even when relaxed.
When a dog grinds his teeth, it’s known as bruxism.
If your dog is constantly grinding his teeth or has just started, let me help you. Below I explain about the common causes for this condition as well as give you some tips on how to stop it. Plus, I’ll share what will happen if you let this condition continue without getting the proper treatment.
What makes my dog grind his teeth?
Your dog could be grinding his teeth for a number of reasons. Perhaps your dog is battling with one of the following?
- He has an underlying medical condition causing him pain. This could be in the mouth or his abdomen.
- His jaw is not aligning properly and as a result, causing your dog pain.
- He’s suffering from stress or anxiety. This could be caused by moving to new home, a stressful home environment or even a new baby or pet coming into the household.
A dog suffering with bruxism needs to be taken to the vet for a full checkup.
What are the risks of grinding teeth?
If your dog is constantly grinding his teeth, he’s eventually going to run the risk of destroying the enamel on his teeth. This will lead to further issues for your fur-baby such as mouth and gum infections, dental fractures, exposed gums, rotting teeth and painful gums.
When your dog gets a tooth infection or has damaged teeth, he’s going to start having problems eating his food. He’ll also run the risk of exposing his body to further infections if a bad tooth is not sorted out.
Handy Hint: Here’s how you can tell if your dog has toothache with some simple checks.
How is bruxism diagnosed?
You’ll need to give your vet a full medical history to help them get to the bottom of your dog’s teeth grinding habit. If the home environment has changed recently, it’s also a good idea to tell your vet.
A full physical examination will be performed, and your vet may request blood tests to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
If your dog has been vomiting, shaking or had diarrhea recently make sure you let your vet know. These could be an indication your dog is battling with a gastrointestinal issue. This, in turn, could be painful and the reason your dog has started to grind his teeth.
Being observant of any behavioral changes in your pooch will also help you and your vet determine if your dog is suffering from stress or anxiety. This includes noticing major lifestyle changes that have happened recently in your dog’s home environment.
Your vet will do a full dental examination to see if your dog has any infection or obvious reasons for pain in his mouth. If he can’t find anything, he may take some x-rays. These can often highlight problems in the gums or elsewhere in the mouth not seen by the naked eye.
What treatment is used for dogs grinding their teeth?
Your dog suffering from bruxism can only be treated once the underlying cause is known. Depending on this, only then can your vet come up with a treatment plan.
- Abdominal or mouth pain: If this is the reason for your dog grinding his teeth, your vet will take the necessary steps to heal the initial problem. This could include medications and sometimes, surgery.
- Jaw misalignment: A veterinary orthodontist will be able to help by correcting the problem here.
- Stress and anxiety: Your vet will prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help ease your dog but it’s important to try and determine what is making your fur-baby anxious or stressed. This is the most effective way of managing your dog’s teeth grinding habit long-term.
If your vet’s full examination rules out any medical underlying conditions, then an animal behaviorist may be able to assist in giving behavioral therapy. They can discuss ways of managing your dog’s anxiety levels while changing the teeth grinding habit.
Do certain dog breeds grind their teeth more than others?
While some dog breeds may be more prone to grinding their teeth because of their jaw alignments, bruxism can happen to any dog breed. It’s can also occur in cats, if you were wondering.
My research has shown that Boxers may be prone to bruxism because of the way their jaw is aligned. Check out a Boxer dog the next time you see one. You’ll notice his lower jaw sticks out further than the upper part of his mouth.
This jaw structure leads to misalignment of the lower and upper mouth parts and could result in your dog feeling sore. As a result, he resorts to grinding his teeth to alleviate or manage the pain.
Jaw misalignment is often common in dogs with an overbite as well. If your four-legged friend has a noticeable jaw misalignment and he starts to grind his teeth, assume he’s in pain. Take him to your vet to have him checked out.
How to stop a dog grinding his teeth
The most common causes of dogs grinding their teeth are jaw misalignment, pain and stress or anxiety – this can be a bit different to chattering. There are certain steps you can take to prevent your dog from battling with any of these issues. These could include:
- Diet: Ensure your dog has a healthy diet. Eating food that is full of the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals means your dog is less prone to GI issues and other medical conditions caused by a poor diet.
- Exercise: Maintain your dog’s health by making sure he gets regular exercise every day. Not only is exercise good for physical and mental development but it will also help to alleviate or even prevent any stress or anxiety conditions.
- Provide enough stimulation: While exercise can come in the form of walking or playing games, you can also give your dog other forms of stimulation. This could include socializing with other dogs and people. You could also enroll him into an agility class or let him take part in obstacle field events.
- Take him for regular checkups: Annual health checkups with the vet will pick up any underlying medical conditions before they become a problem for your dog. If your dog is prone to jaw misalignment because of his particular jaw structure, then regular dental checkups will highlight any dental issues before they turn into painful conditions.
By following these tips, you can prevent your dog grinding his teeth, whether it’s from pain, stress, boredom or jaw misalignment.
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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dogs-baring-tooth-teeth-fang-dog-49324/