If you have ever heard a clicking or popping sound when your dog yawns, you may have wondered if it is normal or a cause for concern. Many dogs make this noise when they open their mouths wide, and it is usually harmless and not a sign of any problem.
However, in some cases, jaw clicking can indicate a dental issue, an injury, or a neurological disorder that needs veterinary attention. In this article, we will explain why jaw clicking happens, when it is normal and when it is not, and what you can do to help your dog if he has jaw problems.
By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the answer to the question “Is It Normal for My Dog’s Jaw to Click When Yawning?”
Is It Normal for My Dog’s Jaw to Click When Yawning? Common Causes
Here are some typical contributing factors to that clicking noise you hear when your dog yawns:
- Teeth chattering – Dogs often chatter and chatter their teeth together quickly when yawning wide. The rapid dental clacking creates a clicking sound.
- TMJ – The temporomandibular joints on either side of a dog’s jaw can release clicking noises with motion, just like in humans.
- Misaligned bite – If your dog’s bite is maloccluded or teeth misaligned, the jaw may click with use.
- Foreign object – Small sticks, burrs, or seed shells caught in the mouth clicking against surfaces.
- Saliva bubbles – Air bubbles popping in drool/saliva can create clicking sounds.
So in most cases, that random click during a yawn is completely normal and not indicative of any problem! But what if your dog’s jaw noises seem more persistent?
When to See the Vet for Jaw Clicking
Seek veterinary advice if:
- Clicking happens frequently when yawning, chewing, or barking – not just occasionally
- The jaw ever become “locked” open or unable to fully close
- Signs of mouth pain like reluctance to eat or allowing handling
- You observe swelling along the jawline or under the chin
- Clicking is accompanied by facial muscle spasms or head-shaking
- Your dog shows difficulty picking up food or toys
Any difficulty using the jaw normally warrants examination to identify the specific cause. Let’s review some possible reasons for chronic jaw clicking.
Potential Medical Conditions Causing Frequent Jaw Noises
Oral Pain/Dental Disease
Cavities, fractured teeth, gingivitis, and other oral inflammation can make chewing painful. Dogs may avoid moving their jaw normally. Dental x-rays are needed to assess.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The TMJ hinges on the upper and lower jaw. If damaged, it clicks frequently and can partially dislocate. This is often seen in toy breeds.
Severe ear infections cause spasms of the cheek and jaw muscles as the dog shakes their head trying to relieve pressure. This muscle twitching clicks the jaw.
Blades of grass, foxtails, plant awns, or other debris lodged between teeth or gum flaps can create repetitive clicking with jaw motion. Removal is needed.
Abnormal jaw growths like cancerous melanoma bump against surfaces as the mouth opens and closes, making noises. Biopsy samples are taken to determine treatment.
Some repetitive neurological tic disorders create rhythmic jaw motions that make consistent clicking sounds. Medication can help reduce tic activity.
So while occasional jaw clicking during big yawns is harmless in dogs, persistent clicking or difficulty using the jaw properly should be addressed by your veterinarian. Don’t ignore changes in eating, barking or other concerning symptoms. With treatment of the underlying condition, most dogs regain normal jaw function comfortably.
Why Do Dogs Chatter Their Teeth When Yawning?
The purpose of dogs rapidly clacking their teeth together during or after yawning remains uncertain. Some theories include:
- Joint resetting – Loosening temporomandibular joints after long closed periods
- Stimulation – Alerting and awakening themselves further
- Stretches facial muscles – Yawns release muscles tension; teeth chatters accentuate this
- Communication – Some believe it signals a non-threat to other dogs.
- Instinct – Trace ancestor instinct akin to wolves chomping after waking.
While the exact reason is still debated, veterinary behaviorists agree teeth chattering seems beneficial for dogs. Let your pup enjoy this quirky jaw behavior without concern!
Is Jaw Clicking Normal in Puppies?
Puppies do commonly exhibit jaw clicking and odd chewing motions as they teethe and develop proper bite alignment. Their teeth and bones are growing rapidly. Clicking noises are especially prevalent around key teething life stages:
6-22 weeks old – Deciduous puppy teeth emerge. Some clicks and discomfort.
4-7 months old – Adult teeth erupt as puppy teeth shed. More clicking.
7 months to 1 year – Teeth alignment settles into permanent bite. Popping decreases.
Monitor for normal developmental milestones, but occasional jaw clicking in puppies is usually not problematic. If baby tooth removal or bite correction is needed, your vet will advise.
When Should My Dog’s Jaw Clicking Be Investigated?
As a general rule, see your vet if clicking is:
- Happening frequently when chewing/yawning, not just sometimes
- Accompanied by difficulty eating, excessive drooling, or apparent mouth soreness
- Causing reduced ability to pick up toys, food, or treats
- Present along with suspicious jaw swelling, spasms, or locking open
- Persisting beyond the expected teething development timeline
Puppies do outgrow benign clicking. But any limitation using their mouth normally warrants veterinary investigation to determine the cause. Prompt treatment will get them back to playing happily again.
Is Excessive Dog Yawning a Sign of Problems?
While normal yawning is not concerning, excessive yawning can signal:
- Anxiety, stress, or nervousness
- Overheating – dogs pant to cool down but may yawn if severely overheated
- Pain or nausea – dogs may yawn repeatedly before vomiting
- Neurological disorder – compulsive yawning is linked to some conditions
Notice if excessive yawning occurs alongside other symptoms. Video the behavior to show your vet if needed. While not an emergency, sudden increased yawning warrants examining your dog and their environment for factors contributing to their discomfort.
Why Do Dogs Drop Things When Yawning?
The yawning motion involves powerful jaw and throat stretching that momentarily releases the grip on items in the dog’s mouth. This reflexive motion can result in hilarious videos of dogs dropping their toys, treats, or even stolen objects during those wide, funny-face yawns!
Rest assured it’s completely normal and does not indicate a serious condition like weakness. The involuntary stretch is simply stronger than momentary bite pressure. Their grip strength returns instantly. No need to curb those amusing dropsy yawns!
My Dog Yawns Constantly – Is He Just Tired?
Frequent yawning does not necessarily mean your dog is overly tired or fatigued. In fact, repetitive excessive yawning more often signals anxiety, stress, or nausea as opposed to simple sleepiness.
Dogs also imitate yawns. Constant yawning can become a mutually contagious behavior when dogs in a group feed off each other’s yawns!
If you notice sudden increased yawning, examine what environmental factors like loud noises, visitors or schedule changes could be creating your dog’s unease. Their yawn frequency reflects psychological state more than sleep needs.
When your dog stretches their jaws wide into a big yawn, that clicking noise may initially seem peculiar. But occasional jaw popping is quite normal and nothing to worry about!
Pay attention to changes like difficulty chewing, loss of toy grip, suspicious swelling, or locking open which do warrant veterinary examination. Otherwise, enjoy your dog’s funny yawning mannerisms that never fail to make us humans smile too. Those yawns reveal that under everything, dogs and people share the same needs for comfort and security. We all just want restful moments to enjoy each other’s companionship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my dog frequently yawn, whine and lick their lips?
These three behaviors in combination often signal anxiety or stress. Excessive yawning, high-pitched whining, and obsessive lip licking are a dogs’ way of releasing tension and soothing themselves when uneasy. Identify what environmental factor is causing distress and remove your dog from the situation.
My dog’s jaw gets stuck open sometimes – is this an emergency?
Yes, the inability to fully close the jaw constitutes an emergency. Seek same-day veterinary care. The jaw “locking” open indicates injury, dislocation, or neurological disruption. Medication, joint manipulation, or bite alignment may be needed to restore normal motion and chewing ability. Don’t delay this painful condition.
Why does my dog chew loudly sometimes? Is it teeth grinding?
Loud, rhythmic chewing with no food present can signal tooth discomfort, stress/anxiety, or neurological disorders characterized by repetitive odd behaviors. Jaw muscle spasms from ear infections can also cause loud grinding. Video the behavior to show your vet and have your dog fully evaluated. Both analgesics and training methods can help minimize problematic air chewing.
My puppy’s jaw clicks constantly – is something wrong?
Some minor jaw clicking is normal in puppies around key teething life stages up to 1 year old. However, non-stop frequent clicking indicates the bite or teeth alignment needs veterinary assessment. Prompt interventions like removing retained baby teeth can prevent permanent malocclusion issues. Don’t delay excessive puppy jaw noises.