Why Does My Dog Keep Opening and Closing His Mouth?

Last Updated on July, 2024

Imagine waking up one day to see your dog sitting in a corner, opening and closing his mouth non-stop.

Now you are scared that he’s possessed. Creepy right?

Not to worry. It’s not like some horror movie scene coming true.

In this article, we are discussing all the possible reasons why your dog keeps opening and closing his mouth rapidly. Here’s all you should know to resolve your worries till you see the veterinarian.

We will address the FAQs and possible treatments. So keep reading.

Quick Summary

Some common causes include dental problems, choking on a foreign object, neurological issues, stress and anxiety, or simply communicating with their owner.

It’s important for dog owners to pay attention to other symptoms and seek veterinary advice if the behavior persists, as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.

Some potential causes for a dog opening and closing its mouth are easily treatable, such as removing a foreign object or addressing anxiety, while others, like distemper or ingestion of toxic substances, require immediate medical attention.

Reasons Your Dog is Opening and Closing His Mouth

A Dog opened his mouth and sitting in the grass

We have compiled 14 reasons for your dog’s weird mouth and jaw movements.

Your Dog Has Food Stuck in His Mouth

Maybe your pup is trying to clean his mouth after eating. It’s as simple as that.

Food particles can get glued to the teeth and gums, causing discomfort to your dog. So, it feels the urge to open and close its mouth to get the residue out.

Help your dog to clean his mouth by brushing. Of course, be careful not to get bitten if you have a naughty little pup.

Your Dog Has a Dental Problem

Just like us, your dog can also get a toothache or a chipped tooth. So he feels like opening his mouth to reduce pain.

They get periodontal disease, an abscessed tooth, lesions, and bumps, causing a strange feeling in the mouth.

All they know is making weird mouth movements, wishing that you’d notice.

Checking your dog’s mouth at home is challenging. Only veterinarians can see every nook and cranny to heal any dental issue.

A black dog is being examined by a veterinarian

Difficulty Breathing or Choking

Your dog will show these signs if he cannot breathe:

  • Stiff body
  • Bluish tongue and gums
  • Heaving abdomen
  • Wheezing sounds

A respiratory disease like pneumonia can be the culprit if he’s opening and closing his mouth to breathe.

Your dog can be choking on a chunk of meat or one of those little toys. Follow the Heimlich Maneuver to save a choking animal.

Learn how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver from this video:

Your Dog Has Neurological Problems


There are other signs when a dog is having a seizure:

  • Stiff body
  • Collapsing
  • Foam coming from mouth and drooling
  • Unconsciousness
  • Urinating and defecating

Watch out for these warning signs if your pup is opening and closing his mouth repeatedly. You should see the Vet immediately.

White Dog Shaker Syndrome

You should pay attention, especially if you have a small white dog, as they inherit this disease. These are the other symptoms:

  • Shivering
  • Head and muscle tremors
  • Rapid eye movements
  • Paralysis
  • Tilted head
  • Inconsistent gait

Opening and closing the mouth, accompanied by the above signs, is a medical emergency.

Some Foreign Object in His Mouth

Pups tend to sniff around and put things in their mouths. They will be coughing, anxious, restless, and biting into the air if there’s anything stuck.

You should check your dog’s mouth to see if these signs appear.

Get help from a veterinarian to save them from choking.

Your Dog Has Nausea and Bloating

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus can happen when your dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid. This can become fatal if left untreated.

A white fluffy dog sitting in the grass with a ball in his mouth

Just like humans, pups also get nauseous and experience gagging sensations. Stomach pain can be a culprit, too. They may keep opening and closing their mouths as a result.

Your Dog is Talking to You

Dogs tend to mimic the way we speak, and it’s pretty normal. Vocalization is a common behavior resulting in opening and closing their mouths.

Don’t worry if they growl and make noises to reply to you.

Your pooch loves attention. Pretending to talk is a way of showing love and grabbing attention.

Stress and Anxiety

Is your dog scared of seeing the Vet or getting the shots?

You will see him moving his mouth in stressful situations. It’s just like us biting nails or tapping feet.

Don’t worry if you can confirm that your dog is reacting out of anxiety.

If he doesn’t have medical conditions, just let him relax.

Your Dog is Very Cold

Of course, your pup will experience chattering teeth and jaw movements when he’s cold, just like us.

A white dog opened his mouth and lying in the floor

Dogs have a temperature of around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops, their bodies react by shivering and shaking.

These dog breeds easily get cold. They need to wear coats during winter:

  • Great Dane
  • Beagle
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Chihuahua

Your Dog is Smelling Something

Dogs often chatter with their teeth after sniffing.

Scent molecules go deeper into their vomeronasal organs as a result.

Your dog is a lot more sensitive to smell than us. They have millions of scent receptors.

So it’s no wonder your dog is reacting to some intriguing smell by opening his mouth.

A Symptom of Distemper

A black and brown dog is smelling something

Have you ever seen a poor pup with these warning signs?

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Thick yellow discharge from eyes and nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures

Distemper is a contagious viral disease that causes these symptoms. Opening and closing the mouth can appear with this.

Vaccination is essential for preventing Distemper.

Vets treat the disease with antibiotics.Your dog can catch this from infected dogs or wild animals like ferrets, skunks, and raccoons.

Your Dog Has Eaten Something Nasty

Do you have a naughty pup who tries to eat everything?

The following categories can be harmful to him.

Toxic Plants:

  • Tulips
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Oleander
  • Azaleas
  • Sago Palm

Poisonous insects/animals:

  • Venomous spiders
  • Toads
  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Cockroaches

Household Chemicals:

  • Chlorine Bleach
  • Carpet cleaners
  • Insecticides
  • Plant fertilizers
  • Vinegar
  • Detergents


  • Antidepressants
  • Sleep aids
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Allergy medications

These categories act as pet poison and cause stomach pain, gagging, and vomiting. So watch out if your dog is opening and closing his mouth repeatedly.

Your Dog is Just Excited

Does your pooch open and close his mouth when you take the leash to go for a walk?

And when you open a box of treats?

Chances are he’s happy and excited.

Just like you, your pet has to express his emotions. Nothing to worry about!

Your Dog is Exhausted and Panting

A brown dog excited and its tongue out

Maybe your dog is just thirsty after playing and needs some hydration. Give him water, let him rest, and see whether his mouth movements have stopped.

Did your pet recently give birth to some puppies?

Then, Milk Fever is one possibility, as it causes heavy panting and trouble breathing.

When You Should See the Veterinarian

Is your pet repeatedly opening and closing his mouth without a good reason?

It’s best to have the Vet check on your dog. You will have peace of mind, and your pet will be safe.

Only a Vet can accurately decide what’s wrong.

Other guides and tools you might need when training your dog:


Your dog’s tongue is likely sticking out as a way to cool down through panting. However, a condition called Hanging Tongue Syndrome may also be causing this behavior.

Your dog may be chattering its teeth due to feeling cold, detecting a smell, exhibiting excitement or anger. It is recommended to have your dog’s teeth checked to address any underlying issues.

The treatments for a dog opening and closing its mouth include curing dental problems such as periodontal disease, administering medication for any neurological conditions, and providing vaccinations.

Final Thoughts

Your dog’s repetitive mouth opening and closing could stem from various causes, ranging from simple behaviors to serious health concerns. 

While some instances, like excitement or cold, are harmless, others, such as dental issues, choking, or neurological problems, require immediate veterinary attention.

Remember, observing your dog’s overall behavior and seeking professional advice is crucial. Stay vigilant, but also remember that not every odd habit is a cause for alarm. 

Your awareness and prompt action can ensure your furry friend’s health and happiness.

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Laura Vinzy
Laura Vinzy is one of our contributors. She is also a certified professional dog trainer & currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two rescue dogs.

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