Our expert says:
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!
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