Dogs open their mouth for a lot of reasons. But if recently, you notice your dog opens his mouth when you pick him up, what does this mean?
In this post, we will discussing the common reasons found in most dogs responsible for this behavior
Why does my dog open his mouth when I pick him up?
Dogs open their mouth when you pick them up because they are stressed, has a blocked nose, using it as a sort of defense mechanism or has muscle paralysis.
Continue reading to know more about the reasons below.
Your dog is hyperthermic
Picking your pooch in your arms and he opens his mouth may get you wondering what this action means. Your doggy may be too hot inside. He may be hyperthermic, and he wants to cool his body down.
This is why he opens his mouth to pant and let in cool air from the outside to circulate through his body and bring down his temperature.
It is usual for dogs to behave in this way.
But if he continues to open his mouth for a prolonged period, you may want to check for signs of a fever
- such as lethargy,
- nasal discharge,
- chills, etc.
These may indicate that he has a higher than normal temperature and is probably down with an ailment.
You may also want to check your dog’s temperature with a thermometer to be sure he is not having a fever.
Your dog is stressed
Mouth opening and panting are stress reactions in dogs.
Dogs, like humans, undergo stress and anxiety. They may be uncomfortable with a new experience or environment, or exposure.
For instance, if you bring a pup into your home for the first time, he may be anxious about his new home and may need some time settling in.
Also, if your dog meets new people or strangers they do not know, they may be uncomfortable when they pick them up and carry them. So they show their uncomfortability by opening their mouths.
If you just recently became a pet parent to a dog and he opens his mouth each time you or other people try to carry him, there is no cause for worry.
Your doggy is experiencing some form of anxiety for you, his new owner, and for your family and (or) friends.
You may want to let him walk alone instead of carrying him and gradually introduce new people to him.
Let them do other things to him, like petting and touching, but not carrying him.
Your dog may have a tooth abscess
A tooth abscess is often a bacterial infection that affects the root of a diseased or fractured tooth.
It is usually from the cavity of a fractured tooth (usually the carnassial or upper fourth premolar) that pus fills and becomes an abscess.
Dogs with this condition often come down with swelling underneath the eyes, rhinitis or inflammation of the nasal mucosa, and pain around the mouth.
If you carry your pup and notice he leaves his mouth open, it may be because he wants to avoid pain from a tooth root abscess.
He may open his mouth slightly, so his lips do not touch the affected tooth and cause pain.
If you pick your dog and notice he leaves his mouth open, has pains in the mouth, and has swelling under his eye or on his cheek; he may have a tooth root abscess infection.
So try to get him medical assistance from the vet to treat the infection.
Your dog has a blocked nose
Much like humans, dogs can be affected by cold.
Remember, they are warm-blooded animals and need to regulate their temperature.
Doggies have higher body temperature than humans even.
A dog’s body temperature may range from 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, while that of a human ranges from 97.6 to 99.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
So dogs always need to keep their bodies warm to a certain extent since they can easily catch a cold from the environment, as is the case during winter.
They feel much colder during the winter than their human neighbors. And like the latter, they can have nasal congestion (blocked snoots) due to cold.
When the airways are congested by a cold, dogs often have problems breathing well. So your pooch may open his mouth wide to breathe properly.
If you suspect your dog of being down with a cold, you may want to help him warm his body using a humidifier, give him hot food and drinks and allow him some rest.
Your dog is exhibiting a defense mechanism
If you just rescued your dog that has been in the wild for a long time fending for himself, and he opens his mouth each time you try to lift him, it may surprise you that he is playing dead.
Here’s the thing:
Before you rescued him, he may have been attacked by wild animals and developed the trick of playing dead by leaving his mouth open and his tongue hanging out so that these animals may give in to his deception and leave him for dead.
He may have been preyed on many times and inculcated this as a habit, so it comes as a reflex.
When you pick him up, he may still display this defense mechanism, not because your presence triggers him but perhaps as a result of habit.
Ensure to make your doggy feel more at home and very comfortable around you and he will gradually loosen up.
Your dog has muscle paralysis
Trigeminal neuritis or neuropathy is a condition that affects the muscles for chewing in dogs.
It may be an inflammatory disease or an autoimmune condition that affects parts of the trigeminal nerve ( the nerve that supplies various structures in the face, such as the eye, facial muscles, and skin of the face).
Dogs with this condition often have difficulty with taking food in their mouth and swallowing, excessive drooling, and inability to close the jaw.
So if you pick up your pooch in your arms and he doesn’t make an effort to close his mouth, or he does but every effort is met with resistance, he is possibly suffering from trigeminal neuropathy.
The branches of the trigeminal nerve that supply the muscles for chewing have been affected by the disease, so these jaw muscles will be paralyzed.
If you notice these signs in your dog, take him to the vet for expert assistance, as this is a treatable condition.
It is barely a permanent one. Your doggy should be okay within two to three weeks with the proper vet care and expertise.
What to d0 if your dog opens his mouth each time you pick him up
Take your dog to the vet
If you notice your dog finds it difficult to close his mouth each time you pick him up, the next best thing to do is to take him to the vet.
If there are any symptoms of an underlying condition such as, tooth abscess, trigeminal neuritis, toothache, cold or hyperthermia, he can be given proper medical treatment.
Make your dog feel more comfortable
If you notice your pooch always leaves his buccal ajar, he may be stressed or anxious about something or someone.
Something in the environment, someone new may upset your dog’s stress levels and cause him to be a mouth opener.
Endeavor to socialize your dog well to new people and new environments
Gradually introduce him to guests instead of letting them suddenly carry him, so he can be less anxious and allow more dopamine (the feel-good hormone) to kick in.