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06 Dec 2012

Weird jaw chatter in jack russel
Good day, my 8year old Jack Russel has this weird jaw chatter thing she does now and then when ever she is relaxed. I tried reading up on it but each time it comes to Epilepsy. ANd its definitely not that. She does not look stressed out, she eats, shes happy, nothing looks out of the ordinary..it''s just this chatter thing her jaw does whenever she''s lying down or stretches out or opens and closes her mouth (the same action she does when for example she tastes something)...not sure how to describe it. :)

I once read it can eithger be a cracked tooth, but won''t she then stop eating or show discomfort? Also i am aware that they do a similar thing (but not really similar) with their mouths when ever they smell pee from another dog or smell another dog...its not that. one article said that some dogs just do that as they get older...i''d like to know if it might be serious at all...i don''t want to to get worse or interfere with her health later. Hope you can help. Chat soon
Answer 51,551 views
Expert
CyberVet
CyberVet

01 Jan 0001

Sounds like you have done some considerable reading up. A sign of a dedicated pet owner. Now we need to take action in order to get to the bottom of this.

Chattering can be 'normal' or can be due to a physical illness. By 'normal' we mean a behaviour that can come about with stress or anxiety, or simply a behavioural characteristic of an animal, much like mannerisms in people. A physical cause could be a neurological disorder (partial or focal seizures) or a problem with the teeth.

Stress and anxiety would be something to rule in/out with a behavioural examination. If no abnormalities are found on the exam then this could be the cause. It's nothing that you can physically diagnose, but it would be the most likely cause if all other causes are ruled out. Animals do not show stress and anxiety very well. Partly because it is within their nature to hide any signs of weakness, and partly because we do not fully understand the behaviour of our pet animals just yet. We are learning a lot through continued research, but we still have lots to learn still from our beloved pets.

In certain instances a dog may have dental disease, a tooth fracture or any problem with the tooth under the gums and they will chatter their teeth due to pain. It may not be enough pain to keep them from eating, they will just chew on the other side. If you start to notice that he is having trouble eating (dropping food) or is eating slowly and carefully this would indicate a problem with a tooth so you should get him seen. In consultation with your veterinarian, a short course of anti-inflammatory medication may reduce the incidence of chattering and improve the situation. The latter could be an indication to explore the oral cavity further and look for the dental anomaly in order to tailor-make the treatment and relief the animal of its discomfort sooner.

A seizure disorder is hard to diagnose, especially if the physical and neurological examinations are within the normal limits. An inexpensive test which may be partly diagnostic would be to try touching her or talk to her during these chattering episodes to see if she responds to you and stops chattering. If she stops and responds this could mean he has control over the chattering and this could point to pain as a cause and not seizures.

If your dog doesn't seem to be bothered by it, you can just watch him and see if the episodes change (more severe or full onset seizure) or increase in frequency – take notes and include the dates, duration of the chatter, recovery time (if applicable) and her ability to eat directly afterwards. It wouldn't be a bad idea to have your vet do a full clinical examination, including an oral and neurological evaluation to see if there are any other physical signs that can point to where the problem is, but also rule out other possibilities.

I hope this answer was helpful!

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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