From Licks to Shivers: Understanding Why Your Dog’s Jaw is Quivering After Licking!

why do dogs jaw quiver after licking

You are at home relaxing, and you suddenly hear a chattering sound out of nowhere. Your curiosity sets in, and you begin to search for where this sound is coming from.

Surprisingly, you noticed the sound is coming from the mouth of your furry friend. Should you be worried or not?

The answer to the question above is not a straight YES or NO.

Quivering in dogs is not uncommon, it is an involuntary and temporary reaction dog show after using their tongue to collect odors or scents. It mostly occurs when dogs perceive pheromones. However, their mouth can also quiver even if pheromones are not perceived.

Quivering of a dog’s mouth after licking is not harmful and it is a natural phenomenon. However, if your dog does this consecutively, it might be a sign of an underlying health issue.

In this article, we have revealed the reasons why your dog’s mouth is quivering after licking and you will also get to know some of the health issues that can trigger this physical response in your dog.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Why is my Dog’s mouth quivering after licking?

Quivering of a dog’s mouth as a response to licking or smell is normal in dogs. It is a reflex reaction dog shows when they perceive an odor, especially the ones that entail pheromones.

Unlike humans that use their eyes to analyze their environment, dogs depend more on their olfactory organs.

Dogs can detect smell 1000 times more than humans can do; this is because they have 100 million sensory receptors in their nasal cavity compared to just 6 million sensory receptors in humans.

While the mouth is solely for feeding and nutrition, dogs can use their mouth to detect odors. They have an advanced olfactory system which increases their ability to smell.

The additional olfactory tool they have is found at the roof of their mouth just behind the upper incisor. This tool is known as Jacobsen’s organ or vomeronasal organ.

When dogs lick something or someone, the organ at the roof of their mouth will detect the smell of what they licked and if it entails pheromones or if the odor is capable of triggering the muscle in their mouth, it will make their jaw quiver.

What Causes Dogs Jaw to Quiver?

dog mouth quivering

Apart from licking, there are several reasons why your dog may be quivering. It may be a result of some sensations or even an internal shift.

A dog’s jaw may also quiver due to excess excitement or joy. When dogs are shown love and affection or when a dog experiences something pleasurable, their body releases endorphins which is a natural hormone that helps alleviate stress and promote pleasure. Endorphins may provoke a physical response in a dog’s muscle thereby making its jaw quiver.

What happens when you bathe in cold water in winter? Your teeth chatter right? YEAH! This might also be the case with your dogs.

Your dog’s jaw may quiver due to the extreme cold temperatures. In this case, you should cover your dog with a blanket and ensure you help raise his body temperature a bit.

Male dogs are capable of perceiving dogs in heat. This is due to the presence of pheromones.

When your male dog especially the unneutered one is around a female dog that is in heat, he will quickly perceive this, and this may cause his jaws to quiver due to the feeling of excitement at the prospect of possibly mating with the female dog in heat.

When a dog senses danger or when they are in an uncomfortable state, they also tend to quiver. This quivering is usually to scare away or confuse the thing or other animal threatening them. They may also quiver to call your attention to come to their aid. This usually happens when they are in a social gathering where other animals and pet owners are present.

Looking at the reasons above, you can tell that quivering in dogs is normal and it does not necessarily need medical attention. However, when you notice other symptoms such as a chipped cavity, soreness in the mouth, anxiety, excessive drooling, etc. You must consult with your veterinarian.

When Should You Take Your Dog to See a Vet?

a man checking his dog's jaws

Quivering of a dog’s jaw is not always linked to any medical condition but it may be a sign of an underlying medical issue that will require medical attention.

Quivering of a dog’s jaw due to an underlying health issue is always intensified and recurrent. It may also be accompanied by symptoms such as jaw tremors, drooling, chipped cavity, etc.

Here are some of the underlying medical issues that can cause your dog’s jaw to quiver:

1. Ingestion or exposure to poison

When your dog eats something toxic or poisonous, or when he is exposed to a type of poison, it can result in neurological symptoms such as jaw tremors or quivering of the jaws.

Imbalances in important electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, or sugar levels may also manifest as quivering of the jaw.

2. Focal Motor Seizure or Epilepsy

If a dog’s jaw tightens before or after it quivers, it could be a sign of a focal motor seizure.

These seizures affect specific areas of the brain and can cause muscle contractions or tremors in certain parts of the body, including the jaw.

On the other hand, if you notice that your dog drools after the jaw quivering and there is no apparent reason such as the presence of food or new smells, it may be indicative of a seizure related to epilepsy.

3. White Dog Shaker Syndrome

Certain dog breeds, including Samoyeds, Dalmatians, Labrador Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, Weimaraners, Bulldogs, and Dalmatians, are more prone to a condition known as White Dog Shaker syndrome.

This syndrome often affects multiple parts of the body and is characterized by tremors or quivering. However, it is important to note that in White Dog Shaker syndrome, the quivering is not limited to the jaw alone.

The exact cause of White Dog Shaker syndrome remains unknown, although researchers have proposed theories such as an immunological disorder or a viral infection leading to swelling of the cerebellum.

Dogs affected by this syndrome may also experience difficulties in walking, controlling their eyes, or maintaining balance. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek veterinary attention for diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

4. Multisystem Neuronal Degeneration

Another underlying health issue that can cause quivering in your dog’s jaw is multisystem neuronal degeneration. This health issue and hereditary and it is very similar to white shaker syndrome.

It is common in dogs like Bichon, Cocker Spaniels, and Maltese.


Several things will make your dog’s jaw quiver. Most of the time it is caused by excitement, smell, or taste. It may also be a result of a cold environment or even a means to ward off threats.

Tremors or quivering in dogs may also be linked to an underlying medical condition. It may be focal motor seizures or epilepsy. Your dog may also experience tremors due to ingestion of poison.

Quivering in a dog is normal and it is usually temporary. However, if it affects the quality of your dog’s life or if it changes your dog’s behavior, then you should seek medical attention.

If you notice that the quivering is also coming from a place of pain or discomfort and is accompanied by other health symptoms. You should consult with your vet immediately for medical attention.


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