Why Does My Dog Keep Opening and Closing His Mouth? (7 Common Reasons)

Categorized as Why Does My Dog
dog keep opening and closing his mouth

If you’re like me, you probably wondered what the heck your dog was up to every time he or she opened and closed their mouth. Is he trying to tell us something? Did he just eat something gross? Is he about to puke?

Turns out, there can be a number of reasons why your dog is opening and closing his mouth, some more serious than others.

In this article, we will outline the most common reasons dogs keep opening and closing their mouths, so read on to find out more.

1. He Has Something Caught in Their Throat and Is Trying to Dislodge It

One of the most common reasons dogs keep opening and closing their mouths is because they have something caught in their throat. This could be a piece of food, a toy, or even a bug.

If your dog is having trouble dislodging whatever is stuck in his throat, he may start to paw at his mouth or gag as he tries to get it out.

2. He Is Choking and Are Trying to Clear Their Airway

As mentioned before, one of the reasons dogs keep opening and closing their mouths is because they have something caught in their throat. When this object is blocking the airway, it can cause the dog to choke.

If your dog is choking, you may notice that he is making a high-pitched noise as he tries to breathe, and his chest may be expanding and contracting abnormally.

3. He Has a Dental Problem, Such As Periodontal Disease or Gingivitis

If your dog’s mouth is constantly open, it could be a sign that he is suffering from a dental problem.

Here is a list of some common dental problems in dogs:

Gum disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common dental problem in dogs. It is caused by bacteria that collects in the dog’s gums, and it can lead to tooth loss and other health problems if not treated.

Symptoms of gum disease include bad breath, red and swollen gums, bleeding gums, and loose teeth.

Treatment for gum disease may include dog mouth wash, anti-inflammatory pain relief, Antibiotics, and Dental cleaning.

To prevent gum disease, make sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and give them dental chews. Healthy diets and chew toys can also help keep gum disease at bay.


Gingivitis is It is a mild form of gum disease and is caused by plaque and bacteria that collects on the dog’s teeth. At this stage, the gums become inflamed but there is still no loss of bone or tissue.

Symptoms of gingivitis include red and inflamed gums, bad breath, and a change in gum color from pink to red or purple.

Gingivitis is usually treated by cleaning the dog’s teeth while he is under anesthesia. Once the gums have healed, you will need to keep a close eye on them and bring your dog in for dental cleanings regularly.

In addition, at-home oral care is important. Make sure to brush your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste at least twice a week, and give them dental chews and treats to help keep their teeth clean.


Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease that can occur when gingivitis is left untreated. In periodontitis, the damage is more severe and irreversible. It is not only the gums that are affected but the ligaments and bones around the teeth as well.

Small dog breeds are more prone to periodontitis than other breeds. This is because their teeth are more overcrowding than large dog breeds, meaning there is less space between the teeth and more opportunity for plaque and bacteria to build up.

Symptoms of periodontitis include bad breath, red and swollen gums, bleeding gums, loose teeth, discolored teeth, irritability, and a drop in appetite.

Treatment for periodontitis usually involves thorough professional cleaning. In severe cases, surgery may also be necessary.

Trauma to the Face and Jaw

If your dog has been in a fight or been in an accident that has caused trauma to his face or jaw, he may start to open and close his mouth as a way of trying to relieve the pain.

Trauma to the face and jaw can cause bruising, swelling, and even fractures. In some cases, it may also lead to nerve damage, which can cause the dog to drool excessively and experience difficulty swallowing.

Restorative techniques such as crowns or the use of braces may be necessary to correct the alignment of the teeth after an accident.

4. He Is Teething

Teething can be a difficult time for puppies. Not only are their gums swollen and tender, but their new teeth are pushing through the gums. This can cause unbearable pain for the little ones.

To ease their discomfort, many puppies will start to open and close their mouths repeatedly. Once the pain is getting to be too much, they will find relief by chewing on something.

This is when you see your puppy chewing on anything and everything they can get their mouths on. This includes chewing on their paws, blankets, and human fingers and toes.

Teething is typically ended by the time the puppy is six months old. There are a few things you can do to help make teething easier for your puppy.

First, make sure they have plenty of toys to chew on. Frozen fruit or vegetables can also help to soothe their gums.

And, lastly, be patient and understanding – teething is hard for puppies and they need your help to make it through it.

5. He Is Experiencing Anxiety or Stress

Dogs can experience a great deal of stress and anxiety in certain situations. This may cause them to start opening and closing their mouths as a way of trying to relieve the tension.

Some common sources of stress for dogs include being left alone, loud noises such as fireworks or thunder, changes in routine, trips to the vet or groomer, and meeting new people or animals.

6. There Is an Underlying Medical Condition Causing Them To Keep Opening and Closing Their Mouth

There are a number of medical conditions that can cause a dog to keep opening and closing his mouth. Some of the most common ones include:

Gastrointestinal Problems

Dogs with gastrointestinal problems may start to open and close their mouths as a way of trying to relieve the pain. This can be caused by anything from an infection or parasites to pancreatitis or intestinal blockages.

Respiratory Problems

Respiratory problems such as kennel cough, bronchitis, and pneumonia can also cause a dog to start opening and closing his mouth in an attempt to breathe or clear his throat.


Seizures can make your dog experience uncontrolled muscle movements. This may cause him to start opening and closing his mouth as well as paddling his legs and drooling.

In the most severe cases, the affected dogs can experience what is called grand mal seizure, which can cause them to lose consciousness and experience muscle contractions that may lead to death.


Hypothermia is a condition that can occur when the body temperature falls below normal. Dogs who suffer from hypothermia may respond in all sorts of ways to warm their bodies, including opening and closing their mouths, shaking their bodies, and curling up.


Distemper is caused by the paramyxovirus virus, a highly contagious virus that can affect a wide range of animals, including dogs.

As the virus attacks the dog’s nervous system, it can cause them to develop a range of troublesome symptoms, including circling, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw movements which can look like your dog opens and close his mouth repeatedly, excessive drooling, and partial or complete paralysis.

7. He Is Mimicking Something They Have Seen Their Human Do

A new study has shown that dogs are capable of automatically and voluntarily mimicking the behavior of their human companions. Based on this study, it’s not hard to believe that your dog may be opening and closing his mouth because he has seen you do it.

5 Tips To Help Stop Your Dog From Opening and Closing His Mouth

If you are concerned about your dog opening and closing his mouth for any of the reasons outlined in this article, there are a few things you can do to help stop him:

1. Perform The Heimlich Manuever

If you think your dog is choking or has something caught in his throat, try performing the Heimlich maneuver. This involves pushing your dog’s abdomen up and inwards with alternating thrusts.

2. Take Your Dog to the Vet

If you think your dog may be opening and closing his mouth because of an underlying medical condition, take him to the vet for a check-up. The most common conditions that can cause this behavior are usually related to the dog’s dental and gastrointestinal systems.

The most important thing to remember is that dental problems will not develop around clean teeth. This is why at-home dental care, such as brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and giving him dental chews and treats, should be considered an important part of your pet’s health care routine.

As for gastrointestinal problems, diet plays an important role in preventing and managing these issues. feeding your dog a high-quality diet that is designed to meet his specific nutritional needs can help to keep his digestive system functioning optimally.

3. Soothe Your Puppy’s Teething Pain

If your dog is still a puppy, he may be opening and closing his mouth because he is teething. Luckily, today there are different types of chewing toys that can help to soothe your puppy’s gums and relieve the pain.

There are rawhide bones, rubber toys, chew sticks, plush toys, etc. You can easily find them in any pet store.

Another option is to give your puppy a frozen treat, such as cold carrots or frozen fruit. This home alternative is not only effective in soothing teething puppies but it is also a healthy snack that provides them with important nutrients.

4. Help Your Dog Deal With His Anxiety

There are different types of anxiety in dogs, and each dog may respond differently to various treatments. Some of the most common types of anxiety in dogs include separation anxiety, noise anxiety, and fear aggression.

There are a variety of ways to help your dog deal with his anxiety, including medication, behavior modification, and environmental changes.

If you think your dog may be opening and closing his mouth because he is anxious, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.


In this article, we have outlined the most common reasons dogs keep opening and closing their mouths. If you are concerned that your dog’s mouth-opening behavior may be due to a more serious underlying condition, please consult with your veterinarian.

Related Questions

1. Why Does My Dog’s Lip Quiver?

There are a few reasons why your dog’s lip might quiver. One possibility is that they’re feeling cold. Dogs don’t have the same ability to regulate their body temperature as humans do, so they can get chilly more easily.

Another possibility is that your dog is anxious or nervous. Lip quivering can also be a sign of submission in dogs, so if there’s something that’s making your dog feel uncomfortable, you may see this behavior.

Finally, it could also be a sign of illness or pain. If your dog’s lip quiver is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s best to take them to the vet to get checked out.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.