Why Does My Dog Keep Licking His Lips Excessively?

dog licking lips

Do not be too worried once your dog suddenly starts licking his lips, if this behavior is not constant.

It may look like he had some butter on his nose and he is trying to take it off.

However, if it persists, your dog may start looking uncomfortable.

You can notice that he is licking the carpet or the floor, or he may be drooling.

What you need to do is to take a closer look at your dog’s nose, gums, and teeth so as to see if everything is normal.

If this kind of behavior continues, and your dog then starts to frantically eat grass, you need to be worried and take it to a vet.

What Does It Mean When My Dog Keeps Licking His Lips?

According to the data, dogs lick their lips non-stop only if they feel threatened, anxious, or nervous.

Another reason why they will be constantly licking lips is when they have some health-related problems such as nausea, oral discomfort, allergies, or internal pain.

Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking Its Lips?

If we take into consideration the opinion of the veterinarian Dr. Katie Grzyb, a dog that licks its lips for no reason in the majority of cases feels nauseous, has allergies, or is dehydrated.

Furthermore, constant lip licking may be caused by abnormal medical conditions or learned behaviors.

You may notice this behavior when you take your dog to the vet or in some other uncomfortable situation and this is only a response to the stress that the dog is feeling.

Turid Rugaas, a Norwegian dog trainer calls this behavior a “calming signal” when lip licking is caused by stress, fear, or confusion.

Unfortunately, sometimes this behavior starts as a stress response, but later on, it can turn into an obsessive habit, which can be compared to nail-biting in humans.

10 Reasons Why Your Dog Keeps Licking His Lips

  1. Nausea
  2. A calming signal
  3. Oral discomfort
  4. Swallowed a foxtail
  5. Licked a toad
  6. Seizure
  7. Sign of Pain
  8. Dehydration
  9. Bloat
  10. Attention-seeking behavior

10 Causes of Lip Licking or Smacking in Dogs

  1. Your Dog May Be Nauseous

    Licking and swallowing usually show that your dog is most likely nauseous.

    The feeling of nausea is the cause of drooling, which is followed by licking lips to get rid of excessive saliva.

    If you notice that the dog is eating grass, you should know that this is a natural way for dogs to make themselves vomit.

    In case your dog ate something that is not good for its stomach, or something toxic, it will try to make itself vomit.

    Maybe, your dog has eaten some toxic food and you need to use home remedies for vomiting and vet-approved remedies for an upset stomach.

    Vomiting or nausea have to stop after 24 hours; otherwise, you need to see a vet immediately.

  2. Your Dog Is Displaying a Calming Signal

    The dog is licking its lips if it is faced with a threat.

    This is the way they show that they are afraid and licking lips is a pacifying behavior.

    Dogs that are stressed, fearful, or anxious typically lick their lips,  and that is actually a message that they do not want to confront their fear.

    It is very important to notice whether your dog licks his lips every time you come home.

    This may be a response to your scolding him several times in the past.

    Your dog may associate your scolding with the home environment so he can be frightened of you when you come home.

    Lip licking is frequently considered a nervous habit quite similar to the nail-biting behavior in humans.

  3. Your Dog May Have Oral Discomfort

    You need to make sure whether everything is fine with a dog’s mouth.

    The dog may be licking lips if there is something that is causing oral pain and discomfort.

    You are the one that has to take a look at signs of tooth decay, periodontal disease, objects in the mouth, or swollen salivary glands.

    Our suggestion is to look under the dog’s jawline or under the dog’s tongue for swelling.

    If these areas appear swollen, it can indicate the accumulated fluid in the surrounding tissues, known as a sialocele.

    This condition requires visiting a vet.

    Actually, you will be able to check the teeth, tongue, and gums, but you cannot inspect the larynx.

    A vet is experienced with these situations and he/she might first sedate the pet, so he or she can see over the soft palate.

  4. Your Dog May Have Swallowed a Foxtail

    Foxtails are spiky grass seeds that can be problematic if they go up the dog’s nose, into the ears, between the toes, and even into the lungs.

    A dog that swallows a foxtail will constantly lick, swallow, and sneeze.

    Plus, you may notice that it eats anything that is on the ground as well as licking the floor, people, or walls for comfort.

    If you believe that your dog swallowed a foxtail, you must see a vet immediately.

    He/she is the one to decide how to remove the foxtail, and this procedure may require sedation which highly depends on where the seed is.

  5. Your Dog May Have Licked a Poisonous Toad

    There are two species of deadly toads – the Sonoran Desert (Colorado River) toad and the Marine or Cane toad.

    In case a dog licked a poisonous toad, the signs of toad venom toxicity appear in a few minutes.

    Some of the symptoms are severe drooling, very red gums, hyperthermia (body temperature rises), vomiting, head shaking, pawing, foaming at the mouth, and loss of coordination.

    After noticing these signs, you must wash your dog’s mouth with water and take it to the vet immediately.

    It is very important to get familiar with the ways to prevent dogs from coming into contact with poisonous toads.

  6. Your Dog May Have a Partial (Focal) Seizure

    Dogs may develop partial seizures and you may see them licking the air and snap.

    It looks like it is catching imaginary flies.

    You need to see whether your dog feels lethargic or depressed after having this kind of behavior, and if this is the case, your pet may be suffering from epilepsy.

    Your vet may subscribe to medication to control the seizures.

  7. Your Dog Is Showing Signs of Pain

    Each dog reacts differently when it does not feel well, and certain dogs whine or bark when in pain. There are those that will only show signs like lip licking.

    Whatever the pain comes from, it can lead to various unusual behavior in pets, so visiting a vet is obligatory.

    He/she has to check your dog to avoid faulty guesswork.

    Some of the causes of lip-licking as a sign of pain can include liver or kidney diseases or any conditions that cause dehydration.

  8. Your Dog Is Dehydrated

    Another very frequent reason for lip-licking is dehydration.

    Dehydration can be caused by hot weather, strenuous physical activity, or certain medical condition, such as kidney or liver disease.

    Symptoms of dehydration are dull and sticky gums, sunken eyes, and loss of skin elasticity.

    It is necessary to check your dog for dehydration, and this can be done by pinching your dog’s skin and lifting it as high as you can.

    If the skin snaps back into place when released, everything is fine with your dog.

    But, if the skin slowly collapses, then you have a dehydrated dog.

    The moment you need to take your pet to the vet is when dehydration is followed by vomiting, lethargy, and/or diarrhea.

  9. Your Dog May Have a Case of Bloat

    In case you have noticed that your dog drools and retches, but nothing comes out, you must take the dog to a vet immediately.

    This is so important as this kind of behavior can be a symptom of bloat, that is an enlarged stomach caused by food, fluid, or gas.

    This is a sudden change and deep-chested dog breeds are prone to it.

    It is worth noting that it can be dangerous, and even fatal, if not treated well by a vet.

  10. It’s Just Attention-Seeking Behavior

    By taking a closer look at your dog’s behavior and you are 100% sure that it is not a consequence of medical conditions, then lip licking can be a dog’s way to get your attention.

    What you may have done unconsciously is to pet your dog and talk to her every time she licks her lips, so, it has associated lip-licking with getting your attention.

    It is now using this behavior to get your attention and display affection towards her.

Are There Different Types of Licking?

According to Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., an animal behaviorist, when licking in expectation of food the dog’s tongue moves laterally, to the side of the dog’s mouth, while lip-licking for other reasons involves moving the tongue straight forward.

Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking and Swallowing?

As we have already spoken about, nausea and eating items may be the reason.

Also, esophagitis, that is an inflammation of the esophagus which can be caused by acid reflux, or oral diseases may cause constant licking and gulping.

The owner needs to pay attention to whether this behavior only appears periodically or it is constant.

There is a possibility that your dog is suffering from a seizure and this can be determined if your dog is trying to catch flies or is licking the air.

What Does It Mean If My Dog Is Licking and Sneezing?

Sneezing is a clear sign of allergies or irritants.

Also, in case your dog eats or inhales foxtail, you can notice these changes in behavior.

Have in mind that reasons for allergies may be various, such as pollen, dust, grass/weeds, mold, cleaning chemicals, laundry detergents, deicing salts, or flea medications.

Why Does My Dog Constantly Lick His Lips and Yawn?

This combination of behavior can be a sign of either nausea or severe stress.

Usually, those dogs that would like to vomit are known to obsessively lick their lips, yawn, and swallow. Furthermore, if your dog is feeling anxious or nervous, it will continuously lick its lips and yawn.

This is the way of calming down and you may see continuous yawning when you take your dog to the vet.

The only way to stop your dog from doing this is to find the source of its anxiety.

Even though it is easier to cure the causes of vomiting than to train your dog to stop its anxious or fearful behavior, you need to do your best to achieve this.

What Does It Mean If My Dog Keeps Licking The Air?

In case you have not noticed any other symptoms but licking the air for hours, you can assume that this behavior is caused by anxiety and a dog specialist has to be visited.

Plus, the dog owner has to do his/her best to train the dog to stop this obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Firstly, they need to identify the source of this behavior.

Also, you need to know that there is a chance that your dog is suffering from a seizure or other neurological disorder.

When to See a Vet

If you have determined that your dog is licking his lips due to something stuck in the throat, you do not need to see a vet, but help it by giving him several “meatballs” made of bread, or mashed potatoes mixed with water and bran.

On the other hand, if the dog keeps on licking its lips and does not seem to be getting better, visiting a vet is the only right solution.

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