Why is my dog grinding his teeth? Understanding the Causes

Just like humans, dogs have habits that might seem strange or unusual to their owners. One of these habits is teeth grinding, which is often an indication of a larger problem. In this article, we will explore the possible reasons why your dog is grinding their teeth and what actions you can take to help your furry friend feel more comfortable.

Dental Problems

Dental problems are one of the most common reasons why dogs grind their teeth. Just like humans, dogs can experience tartar build-up, cavities, gum disease, and infected teeth. These issues can cause your dog significant pain and discomfort, leading them to grind their teeth to alleviate that stress. Keeping your dog’s teeth clean and scheduling regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help prevent these dental problems from arising.

Tartar Build-up

Tartar or dental calculus is a buildup of plaque that hardens over time, damaging teeth and gums. When tartar accumulates on your dog’s teeth, it causes inflammation and irritation in the gums resulting in pain, and they may grind their teeth to ease that discomfort. A professional teeth cleaning and using dental chew toys can help reduce the amount of tartar in your dog’s mouth.

Cavities and Infected Teeth

Cavities and infected teeth can also cause your dog to grind their teeth. Having routine dental check-ups will help address these issues if present. In the case that they are already present, extracted or filled with an appropriate material will help to alleviate the pain experienced by the dog.

Bite Alignment Issues

Another possible reason why your dog might grind their teeth is due to bite alignment issues. If your dog’s teeth are not properly aligned, they may experience a great deal of pain in their jaw and teeth. Grinding their teeth may temporarily relieve the pain. However, this will not be enough to fix the problem, which may require professional intervention.


Dogs with an underbite have a lower jaw that extends out further than the upper jaw. This misalignment puts pressure on the front teeth, causing pain and discomfort. Dogs with an underbite may grind their teeth to relieve the discomfort of their teeth.


A dog with an overbite has a lower jaw that’s behind the upper jaw which puts pressure on the back teeth. If your dog experiences an overbite, it can cause slight grinding of the teeth, resulting in damage to the surfaces of the teeth.

Pain or Anxiety

Dogs may grind their teeth to relieve stress, anxiety or pain. The grinding of teeth is a sign of stress, and your dog may be experiencing something that is causing them stress, such as separation anxiety or fear of loud noises like thunder or fireworks.

Separation anxiety

If your dog is constantly grinding their teeth when you’re leaving the house, it could be due to separation anxiety. They experience stress and fear when left alone, which may be alleviated by grinding of their teeth. Treatments like training and medications can help to alleviate the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs.

Fear or Pain

Dogs that have been injured or are in pain may also grind their teeth. Grinding their teeth can serve as a distraction from the pain they are experiencing, and so they do not think about the pain so much. In some cases, medication may be recommended to alleviate pain or ease tensions and anxiety.

Underlying Medical Issues

Sometimes, teeth grinding may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or neurological problems in the dog’s skull. These conditions may require medical intervention to treat the underlying cause.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

TMD is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. If the joint is damaged or inflamed, it may result in a loss of cartilage, leading to tooth grinding. Treatment for TMD includes medications, jaw exercises, and corrective dental work.

Neurological issues in the skull

Your dog may be experiencing neurological issues in its skull, which may cause teeth grinding. These conditions may be related to trauma, aging, or infection. In some instances, surgical interventions may be needed to correct these nerve issues in the skull.


Grinding of the teeth in dogs is a common problem that can be caused by dental issues, bite alignment problems, pain or anxiety, and underlying medical conditions like TMD or neurological issue. When you notice your dog grinding its teeth, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian immediately, considering the possibility of the more significant problems. Appropriate treatment options such as tooth extractions, medications or surgery might be suggested depending on the issue.

Common Questions about Teeth Grinding in Dogs:

  • Q: Why is my dog grinding his teeth?
  • A: Dogs can grind their teeth for various reasons, including dental problems, bite alignment issues, stress, pain, or underlying medical issues.
  • Q: What are some of the dental problems that can lead to teeth grinding in dogs?
  • A: Tartar, dental cavities, and infected teeth can cause pain and discomfort in the teeth and, consequently, teeth grinding in dogs.
  • Q: What are some of the bite alignment issues that can cause teeth grinding?
  • A: Dogs with overbite or underbite may experience discomfort when their teeth are not aligned correctly, causing teeth grinding.
  • Q: How can I help my dog stop grinding their teeth?
  • A: Teacan work together with their veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of the teeth grinding and provide appropriate treatment options, such as tooth extractions, medications or surgery.


  1. Gommeren K, Dufour S, Van der Vekens E. “Bruxism (teeth grinding) in dogs”. Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift – Vol. 88 (2019): 342-347.
  2. Harvey C, McNicholas J. “Dental Disease in Animals: Causes, Consequences, and Care”. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice – Vol. 48, No. 5 (2018): 819-829.
  3. Bhandal KS, Thompson H, Heller J. “Canine bruxism”. Veterinary Record – Vol. 166, No. 12 (2010): 362-362.

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