Dog Making Weird Mouth Movements: Identifying Causes and Solutions

Weird Mouth Movements Dog

Have you ever observed your dog making weird mouth movements and wondered what could be causing it? While it may be fun to watch and even seem endearing, these unexpected actions can indicate potential issues that require attention.

Dogs may exhibit strange mouth movements for a variety of reasons, ranging from behavioral or psychological factors to more serious health concerns. Some common causes include foreign objects lodged in their teeth or throat, stress, nausea, or dental problems.

In more extreme cases, neurological issues like seizures or distemper might be a factor. It’s crucial to observe your dog closely, especially when these behaviors occur frequently, in order to identify the root cause and take appropriate action.

Key Points

  • Dogs may make strange mouth movements for a variety of reasons, including stress, anxiety, or medical issues.
  • Some dogs may exhibit lip-smacking, tongue flicking, or teeth chattering as a way to relieve stress or anxiety.
  • Other dogs may make strange mouth movements due to dental problems, such as gum disease or tooth pain.
  • In some cases, dogs may develop a condition called “idiopathic orofacial pain syndrome,” which causes them to make repetitive mouth movements.
  • If you notice your dog making strange mouth movements, it’s important to observe their behavior and consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.
  • Treatment options may include behavior modification, medication, or dental procedures, depending on the cause of the behavior.

Weird Mouth Movement Causes

dog making weird mouth movements

Recognizing the variety of mouth movements your dog makes can help you to better understand their behavior and needs. Some movements may be amusing, while others could raise concerns. Here, we present the possible reasons behind your dog’s weird mouth movements.

Dental Health

Your dog could exhibit unusual mouth movements due to poor dental health. Periodontal diseases affect over 80% of dogs above three years of age, according to Lorraine Hiscox, DVM, and Jan Bellows, DVM at the VCA Hospitals. Bacterial plaque formation around your dog’s teeth can lead to severe gum issues like gingivitis.


Another possibility is bruxism or teeth grinding, which is often a manifestation of anxiety. This condition may produce odd mouth movements as well as other symptoms, depending on the cause of your dog’s stress or anxiety.

Unusual mouth movements may also be caused by:

  • Foreign objects stuck in your dog’s teeth or throat
  • Nausea, which might lead to drooling, lip-smacking, or repeated yawning
  • Cold temperatures, causing teeth chattering

Neurological Issues

In some cases, your dog’s weird mouth movements could have a neurological basis, such as seizures or distemper. These conditions are less common but should not be ruled out, especially if your dog exhibits other symptoms.

Keep an eye out for certain movements, like teeth chattering, lip-smacking, and frequent opening and closing of the mouth. While these actions might initially seem amusing, repetitive behavior could indicate an underlying concern.

Understanding your dog’s mouth movements, along with any unusual behaviors, can help you identify potential health issues or stressors early on. Consult with your veterinarian when in doubt to ensure your furry friend receives appropriate care and support.

Stress and Anxiety

When your dog experiences stress and anxiety, they may exhibit unusual mouth movements. This is because these emotions can lead to teeth grinding or chattering. To address this issue, it’s essential to identify and reduce the stressors affecting your furry friend.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions such as fever or gastrointestinal disease might cause your dog to make odd mouth movements. When dogs experience discomfort or pain, they might respond by moving their mouths in unusual ways. It’s vital to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect a medical condition is contributing to these mouth movements.

Foreign Objects

Sometimes, foreign objects can become lodged in a dog’s teeth or throat, causing them to move their mouths strangely. Examples of foreign objects include:

  • Sticks
  • Bones
  • Toys

Carefully check your dog’s mouth for any foreign object. If you cannot remove it safely, contact your veterinarian for assistance.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, can lead to unusual mouth movements in dogs. When your dog is feeling nauseous, they might drool excessively, smack their lips or show signs of discomfort. Consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment options if you suspect gastrointestinal issues.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

symptoms of dog moving mouth in weird way

Teeth Chattering

You might observe your dog’s teeth chattering as one of the weird mouth movements. Teeth chattering can be a symptom of several conditions in dogs, such as fear, anxiety, cold, or discomfort. It’s important to identify the cause and address it accordingly.

Excessive Drooling

Another symptom to watch out for is excessive drooling. This can occur due to various reasons, including:

  • Anticipation of food
  • Nausea
  • Dental problems or oral pain
  • Dehydration
  • Fever

Monitor your dog closely to understand the context of the drooling and consult a vet if it persists.

Repeated Mouth Opening and Closing

If your dog repeatedly opens and closes their mouth, it could indicate discomfort or a more serious issue such as a partial seizure. Keep an eye on your dog for any additional symptoms like tremors or lip smacking.

Abnormal Chewing

Abnormal or excessive chewing might point towards dental issues, distemper, or even bruxism (teeth grinding) in dogs. Pay attention to your dog’s chewing patterns and consult a veterinarian if you notice any changes.

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite in dogs can be a sign of various health problems, including:

  • Dental or oral issues
  • Infections
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal issues

If your dog isn’t showing interest in food, it’s crucial to address this issue with your vet.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea can be the result of many underlying issues, ranging from mild to severe. Some possible causes are:

  • Infections
  • Ingestion of toxic substances
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Food intolerance

Seek veterinary assistance if your dog is experiencing these symptoms along with abnormal mouth movements.

Remember to always monitor your dog’s behavior and consult a veterinarian if you notice any of the mentioned symptoms. Early detection and prompt intervention can help in treating any underlying health conditions effectively.

Behavioral Causes and Remedies

Boredom and Excitement

Dog making weird mouth movements can sometimes result from boredom or excitement. When your dog is bored, they might find comfort in making repetitive mouth movements. On the other hand, excitement can lead to increased drooling and chattering. To help address these issues:

  • Provide regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
  • Train your dog to remain calm when exposed to exciting situations.

Habitual Behavior

Some dogs develop habitual behaviors, such as odd mouth movements, as a coping mechanism or simply out of habit. Keep an eye on your dog for patterns or triggers that seem to prompt unusual mouth movements. If you suspect habitual behavior, consider:

  • Working with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to address these habits.
  • Using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage alternative, healthier behaviors.

Feeding Time Anticipation

Dogs can make weird mouth movements when they anticipate mealtime, especially if they’re excited about their food. This can lead to drooling, lip-smacking, and even teeth chattering. To help prevent such behavior:

  • Feed your dog on a regular schedule to maintain consistency.
  • Train your dog to sit or lie down calmly before you serve their food.

Use of Treats and Toys

Providing your dog with chewing gum, treats, and toys can benefit their oral and mental health, and help redirect their energy to more positive activities. Chewing can help clean your dog’s teeth, while providing a means to combat boredom or anxiety. For best results:

  • Choose dental chews and treats specifically designed to promote oral health.
  • Rotate your dog’s toys daily to maintain their interest and prevent boredom.

When to See a Veterinarian

It’s essential to keep an eye on your dog’s behavior and health, including any unusual mouth movements. While some instances might be harmless, other situations may warrant a visit to your veterinarian. Be aware of the following scenarios that should prompt you to consult a vet:

  • Persistent or worsening symptoms: If your dog’s weird mouth movements continue or worsen over time, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. Don’t hesitate to take your furry friend to the veterinarian for a thorough examination.
  • Changes in appetite or behavior: Apart from the mouth movements, notice if your dog is eating less, refusing food, or exhibiting signs of distress. These changes might indicate a more significant problem that requires professional attention.
  • Physical signs of pain or discomfort: Always pay attention to your dog’s body language. If they’re excessively drooling, bleeding from the mouth, or pawing at their face, they may be in pain, making it crucial for them to see a veterinarian.
  • Presence of other health issues: Sometimes, weird mouth movements might be accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as bad breath, vomiting, diarrhea, or weight loss. Consult your vet if you notice any of these signs in conjunction with their mouth movements.
  • Mouth inflammation or sores: If you see any inflammation, swelling, or visible sores in your dog’s mouth, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. They can diagnose the root cause and prescribe appropriate treatment to alleviate your dog’s discomfort.

Remember, as a pet owner, you know your dog best. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weird mouth movements or any accompanying symptoms, always play it safe and take them to your veterinarian for a professional evaluation. Your dog’s health and well-being depend on your vigilance and care!

Veterinary Diagnosis and Treatments

Physical Examination

When you suspect that your dog is making weird mouth movements, the first step is to consult your vet. They will start with a thorough physical examination to determine if the issue originates from dental problems, infections, muscle spasms, or inflammation. This may involve checking for lip wounds, lip fold dermatitis, or any foreign objects stuck in the dog’s teeth or throat.

Blood Tests

Depending on the initial findings, your vet may recommend blood tests to confirm or rule out potential medical conditions affecting your dog. These tests can help identify underlying issues such as localized epilepsy, meningitis, or sialocele, which could potentially be the cause of the unusual mouth movements.

Dental Procedures

If your vet identifies dental problems, they may recommend dental procedures to address them. This can include removing bacterial plaque around the dog’s teeth, treating gingivitis, or extracting severely damaged teeth. Maintaining proper oral health and hygiene can help prevent further mouth problems and alleviate any weird mouth movements.

Medication Treatment

Once your vet has pinpointed the cause of your dog’s mouth movements, they may prescribe medication accordingly. For example:

  • Corticosteroids: If inflammation is detected, corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling and ease discomfort.
  • Antibiotics: In the case of bacterial infections, antibiotics will likely be recommended to treat the issue.
  • Seizure medication: If your dog is diagnosed with localized epilepsy, an appropriate treatment plan may include medication to help manage seizures.

Following your vet’s advice and adhering to the prescribed treatment plan is essential to improve your dog’s condition and prevent further complications. Remember to always consult with a veterinary professional if you have concerns about your dog’s behavior or health.

Preventive Measures and Oral Health Maintenance

Proper Dental Hygiene

To maintain your dog’s oral health, it is essential to practice proper dental hygiene. Regularly brush your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs. This will help remove plaque and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. Additionally, dental chews and dental sprays can help supplement your dog’s oral care routine.

Healthy Diet and Hydration

A well-balanced diet plays a crucial role in your dog’s overall health, including their oral health. High-quality dog food will provide essential nutrients and help prevent dental issues. Ensure your dog has access to clean water at all times, as dehydration can lead to decreased saliva production and increased risk of oral health problems.

Regular Vet Check-Ups

Scheduling regular check-ups with your veterinarian is vital for maintaining your dog’s oral health. Your vet can identify potential dental issues early on and recommend appropriate treatments or preventive measures. It’s also essential to discuss your dog’s specific dental care needs according to their breed, age, and lifestyle factors.

Safe Toys and Chewing Materials

Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs that helps strengthen their jaw muscles and maintain healthy teeth and gums. Provide your dog with safe toys and materials, like rubber chew toys or dental chews, to support their oral health.

Avoid hard materials that can damage teeth or cause injuries, such as bones or antlers. Regularly inspect and replace damaged chew toys to ensure your dog’s safety.

By incorporating these preventive measures and focusing on oral health maintenance, you can help keep your dog’s mouth healthy and reduce the risk of issues like dental diseases, foreign objects stuck in their teeth, or complications due to poor oral health. Remember that your dog’s well-being is vital, and a proactive approach to oral care will contribute significantly to their overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog constantly chewing?

Your dog might be constantly chewing due to a variety of reasons such as dental issues, stress, or the presence of a foreign object in their mouth. Additionally, they might be trying to dislodge food stuck between their teeth. Regular dental check-ups and providing appropriate chew toys can help alleviate this behavior.

What causes a dog’s jaw to spasm?

A dog’s jaw might spasm due to neurological problems, epilepsy, or cold temperatures. In some cases, a jaw spasm could also be the result of facial or jaw muscle strain or injury. If the spasms continue or worsen, consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Reasons for a dog to repeatedly open and close their mouth?

Some reasons for a dog to repeatedly open and close their mouth include:

  • Attempting to dislodge food or a foreign object stuck in their teeth
  • Oral discomfort or pain due to dental problems
  • Nausea
  • Stress or anxiety

If this behavior is persistent or concerning, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian to address any underlying issues.

Can bruxism affect dogs?

Yes, bruxism, or teeth grinding, can affect dogs. It is not a disease, but rather a symptom of various diseases or conditions. Bruxism in dogs may be caused by stress, dental problems, or neurological issues. If you notice teeth grinding in your dog, consult your veterinarian to identify and address the root cause.

Is my dog trying to remove something from their mouth?

If your dog appears to be repeatedly opening and closing their mouth or making chewing motions with nothing visible in their mouth, they might be trying to remove something from their mouth. This could be a stuck piece of food, a foreign object, or even a lodged piece of fur from self-grooming.

What could cause my dog’s tongue to move strangely?

Your dog’s tongue might move strangely due to:

  • An underlying dental issue causing pain or discomfort
  • A foreign body stuck in their mouth or throat
  • Muscle or nerve problems affecting tongue movement
  • Anxiety or stress

If your dog’s strange tongue movement persists, seek advice from a veterinarian to determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment or intervention.