Grinding Teeth (Bruxism) in Dogs

Published on
Last updated on
2 min read

Key takeaways

Bruxism in dogs is defined as gnashing, clenching, or grinding of the teeth. Chattering of the teeth can also occur.

  • There are many potential causes, such as oral/dental conditions, gastrointestinal conditions, neurological issues, nutritional deficiency, infectious diseases, urinary diseases, and anxiety
  • Diagnostics depend on other symptoms and may include physical exam, blood work, diagnostic imaging, and urinalysis
  • Treatment and prognosis vary depending on the underlying cause
  • Some examples of treatment include surgery, medications, nutritional therapy, and behavioral therapy
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A closer look: Grinding Teeth (Bruxism) in Dogs

Bruxism can vary in a few ways. It can occur in various intensities, be chronic or acute, persistent or intermittent, and be a single symptom or accompanied by other symptoms. When present, other symptoms can help identify the underlying condition.

Bruxism is associated with some life-threatening illnesses, so emergency veterinary care is warranted when accompanied by other symptoms such as inability to urinate, behavior changes, seizures, or breathing difficulties.

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Possible causes

Teeth grinding in dogs is often a sign of pain or nausea. Any disease associated with GI or mouth pain may cause teeth grinding. Intense pain or nervous symptom dysfunction are also associated causes. Bruxism in dogs is rarely due to anxiety. In some cases teeth grinding is due to misalignment of the jaw leading to malocclusion, which may not be painful but can lead to complications if not corrected.

Risk factors

Long-term teeth grinding can wear down and loosen teeth as well as reduce jawbone density. It can also lead to pain and arthritis of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ; the jaw “hinge”), predisposing to dental issues and sometimes problems with eating. Bruxism is not common in dogs, but is seen more often in breeds with malocclusions (misaligned bite) and dogs with underlying conditions causing pain.

Testing and diagnosis

Diagnosis of bruxism begins with a full physical exam. Other tests may include x-rays or other diagnostic imaging, blood work, urinalysis, and/or blood culture.

Treatment varies widely with the underlying cause, and may not be necessary when it is mild and/or is the lone symptom. Examples of treatment include dental surgery, medications, nutritional therapy, behavioral therapy, and abdominal surgery. Some conditions may be deadly and untreatable (for example, rabies).

Similar symptoms

It is quite difficult to tell the difference between teeth chattering and focal seizures.

Associated symptoms


Melissa Guillory, DVM - Writing for Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery
JENNA STREGOWSKI - Writing for The Spruce Pets
Katelyn Son - Writing for

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