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Why does my dog make noises with his mouth?

You tried so hard to sleep last night! You would close your eyes, get right on the verge of dosing off, and then, it would happen…it felt like the walls were reverberating with the noises from your dog’s mouth, like in a bad B-rated thriller flick? You’d laugh if you weren’t so tired.

Something’s gotta give because you simply cannot listen to it for one more night! You’ve got to figure out why your dog makes these noises with his mouth, and you’ve got to find a way to stop it. You are looking for answers.

Why does my dog make noises with his mouth?

The good news is that your dog wasn’t trying to embarrass you, but if you are looking for a 10-second, certain answer to the question of why your dog makes noises with his mouth, then you may be disappointed. Sometimes, the answer isn’t so easy.

There is more than one type of noise that dogs make with their mouths. While dogs make plenty of noises, the most commonly owner-reported mouth noises are clicking, lip-smacking, and crunching.

Crunching seems a strange sound coming from a dog’s mouth because it sounds almost like he is chewing something crunchy but with nothing in his mouth. It is essentially your dog grinding his teeth. There are several possible culprits when searching for a cause.

He could be stressed.

Your dog could feel pressured for whatever reason, at that moment, or possibly something has happened to stir an emotional response in your dog. Besides stress anxiety, dogs can also get anxiety from being separated from their owners or left alone too long and often. Dogs can acquire compulsive disorders and fears (phobias). They can even acquire PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

He could be in pain.

He could be trying to tell you he is hurting somewhere. Look for other signs of pain, such as lethargy, limping, or yelping if a particular area is touched. For example, a dog getting their second set of teeth will be in pain and probably grind his teeth.

His oral health could be declining.

Even a dog with a perfect set of pearly whites gets tooth trouble sometimes. Maybe your dog has a tooth that has decayed down to exposing a tender nerve. His oral health could be declining so that there is more than one.

He could be dealing with seizures.

Idiopathic epilepsy causes most seizures in dogs. It is inherited and has no discernable origin or cause. Seizures can cause a dog to make crunching sounds.

He could be dealing with Bruxism.

Is he only crunching in his sleep? He could have Bruxism. Further, this could mean that he is even more certainly experiencing pain or dealing with stress or seizures.

He could just be dealing with the cold weather.

What is the season? Is it the cold time of year? It is possible that this is simply a part of his way of dealing with cold weather.

Why does my dog make clicking noises with his mouth?

Clicking sounds may have numerous possible causes, some a bit complicated, others elementary. Let’s look.

Is it normal for my dog to make clicking noises with his mouth?

Your dog could just have a very dry mouth and throat. Certain medications can cause this. Does the noise stop when he takes a drink of water? 

The truth is that it’s hard to be sure what causes the clicking sounds from a dog’s mouth, but here are a few possible culprits.

He may be suffering from Tracheal Collapse.

If your dog makes a clicking sound when panting, he may have a collapsed trachea. Cartilage rings make up a dog’s trachea, and in a healthy dog, they are rounded just right and in perfect condition. They are meant to keep his trachea in place and make it less prone to damage.

Degeneration can take place, though, and the rings can begin to soften, flatten out, and collapse. This usually happens mostly when the dog is panting from excitement. The collapse can cause coughing and breathing noises.

Smaller breeds of dogs are more commonly the ones plagued with tracheal collapse.

He may be suffering from Laryngeal Paralysis.

Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the flap that lies on the larynx closes as the dog swallows. Dogs plagued by this condition present with panting, breathing noises, and a change in the sound of their voice.

While laryngeal paralysis can plague any dog, it is seen much more commonly in Labrador Retrievers.

He may have an elongated soft palate.

You will find elongated soft palates in flat-faced, short-nosed dogs. These dogs are a breed called brachycephalic, and among them are Boston terriers, bulldogs, and boxers.

Because their breeding resulted in these facial features, the elongated soft palate, very narrow nostrils, and abnormalities in their voice boxes. 

The result can be strange respiratory sounds, such as snoring but while awake or clicking or rattling upon taking a deep breath.

For a brachycephalic breed dog, these symptoms may be quite normal, but sometimes, cases may need to be treated with prescription medications that aid with breathing ranging to surgical widening of the nasal passages.

What else could it be?

This is not an exhaustive list. There could be an abnormality of the palate in the top of your dog’s mouth. It could just be some inflammation in the voice box area. There could also be something hung up in your dog’s throat.

Is it more like a popping noise?

A popping sound coming from a dog’s mouth is more like popping a bubble on a piece of bubble wrap. There are several possible causes of this popping sound. The most common is TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction).

In such, the temporomandibular joint attaches your jawbone to your skull, and when there is dysfunction, it can cause the misalignment of teeth, locking of the jaw, arthritis, and more. This can create a loud popping noise.

Why is my dog licking and smacking his lips?

You can picture it no matter who you are because you’ve seen it in your dog or someone else’s — the smacking of the lips at mealtime, but what if your dog smacks his lips all the time? Is this normal? Let’s see.

Is he anticipating his next meal?

Drool is falling out of both sides of his mouth. He licks his lips as he sees you go for his snacks or his dog food — even when you are cooking “people” food. The want, the anticipation, the dream of eating what he can picture is almost more than he can handle.

A physiologist studied a dog’s digestive process, and he noticed how, when “food” entered into the picture, the dog immediately began salivating. “Food,” in this instance, means not only the food itself but also anything associated with food.

For instance, since the dogs knew the lab assistants were going to feed them, they eventually, actually begin drooling the moment they saw the lab assistants, well, even hearing their footsteps.

This happens in everyday life, as well. If you feed your dog at the same time every day, they will begin salivating upon hearing your footsteps.

If not, do you keep your dog’s food and snacks in a particular place? When you open this door or head to this cabinet, is this when he begins lip-smacking? It could simply be the anticipation of a hearty meal.

Is he anxious?

Usually, if a dog is stressed and anxious, under pressure and uncomfortable, he will lick his lips very quickly. This is what’s known as a calming signal.

Have you ever noticed him doing this after he is startled, or after you scold him, maybe when another dog growls at him? It is a mild reaction to a situation you know as fight or flight, and in a fitting situation, this is a reasonable response and nothing to worry yourself about.

Is there something wrong in his mouth?

This is something simple to check if your dog will let you. Has he developed gingivitis, which is a bacterial infection of the gums? Does he have an abscessed or broken tooth or something stuck in his mouth or throat?

Is he plagued with nausea and an upset stomach?

When a dog has nausea and an upset stomach, he will drool, smack his lips, and drink his saliva, lick the floor and walls, and eat grass. Many times, just as in humans, after they vomit, the nausea will go away.

Dogs will smack their lips before vomiting up yellow bile, as well. Since highly acidic yellow bile can eat away at the teeth and the skin tissue of the mouth and throat, the saliva could be a way to coat these areas before he vomits.

Dogs can get acid reflux just like humans. Gastric acid is produced into an empty stomach. However, since no food is there to absorb it, it lies in the stomach and irritates the lining causing nausea, and spitting up and vomiting of bitter yellow bile.

Is he in pain?

Look for signs that he may be in pain because dogs have many ways of showing they are in distress. Is he limping? Is he yelping when you are petting him and touch a particular area?

Is he dehydrated?

Some medications or even allergies can cause dry mouth. Your dog could have dry mouth. He could even be dehydrated.

When dehydrated, a dog will smack his lips. This helps to wet his gums. A good way to check for dehydration is to pull straight up on the skin over his front legs and shoulder blades. 

A healthy dog’s skin should spring right back into place, but a dehydrated dog’s skin will take its sweet time, creeping back into place.

You can also check his gums looking for dryness and tackiness. These are signs of dehydration.

Is he plagued with a medical issue?

There are many medical issues that could present with lip-smacking as one of the symptoms. Here are only a few.

Is it a salivary gland issue?

A dog’s salivary gland can swell and cause a sialocele, which is the buildup of saliva in the tissue from leakage coming from a salivary duct or gland. The good news is that this is quite a rare condition.

Is it a nervous system disorder?

Toxins can wreak havoc on a dog’s nervous system. For instance, a poisonous toad can cause a dog to lick, drool, and foam at the mouth.

He may get a fever or red gums. He could have trouble breathing or his heart rhythms could become abnormal. He could even have seizures or die.

Is he having seizures?

He may be having simple or partial seizures. When dogs have this type of seizure, they will snap at or lick the air.

What else could it be?

It could also be a whole host of other medical issues, like kidney or liver disease. If you’ve ruled out all the simple causes, your vet is the best one to determine what serious issue there may be.

What to do about my dog making noises with his mouth?

You’ve taken a look at what may be the cause and what symptoms to look for. Now it’s time to take action if there is action to be taken.

Call the Pet Poison Helpline.

If you have any reason to believe your dog has been poisoned, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 immediately for expert advice on what to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Consult your vet.

Your vet is a priceless source of advice and help when it comes to determining what is causing your dog to make noises with his mouth and solving the problem. Heed his advice.

You can also…

You can also try doing things like changing his diet. You could even give him late-night snacks to keep his stomach from being empty too long.