If you find your dog licking its mouth whenever there is food around, you would probably feel the dog wants to taste it or hungry. How about instances when there is no food around, and the dog does the same thing? You do not need to get too curious; it could just mean your dog is trying to communicate something to you.
Dogs lick their lips due to anxiety, perceiving an appealing aroma, or being nauseous. Licking can be that it is trying to communicate, has dental issues, has ingested a foreign object, and is hungry and anticipating its meal.
Dogs lick their lips due to stress, fear, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) sometimes too.
Dogs are introduced to the habit of licking by their mothers; the mothers lick the puppies when they are born to stimulate various natural activities like peeing and pooping.
Why Does My Dog Keep Licking His Lips?
There are many reasons why your dog could be licking its lips. Licking is another way dogs communicate with their owners. Dogs have a great sense of smell, and if a dog perceives a good scent, it will be prompted to lick either its lips or the object. We will look at some reasons why your dog licks its lips.
Most Common Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Lips
There are other reasons why dogs lick their lips. It could sometimes indicate that the dog has an underlying health issue. Dogs learn mostly by positive reinforcement, so if you allow your dog to display an attitude consistently while rewarding it, it will become a regular attitude of the dog. Below are reasons why your dog keeps licking its lips.
The Dog has perceived Appealing Smell Near By
This is a very common reason why dogs lick their lips. As a dog owner, you would notice this more whenever you are preparing your dogs’ meals. It simply shows that the dog is anticipating its meal. Once it perceives the aroma of the food, it will keep licking its lips.
Sometimes even while you are eating your meal, your dog could sit nearby and begin to lick its lips too. It has perceived the smell of your food, and it probably wants some out of it. However, you should not give your dog the food you eat, as not all human meals are healthy for the dog.
The Dog Is Nauseous
If your dog, who is always licking its lips whenever it perceives the smell of its meal, suddenly begins to lick and does not even have an appetite for food, then the dog is likely nauseous. The licking could be accompanied by swallowing excess saliva, and the dog may also be seen vomiting.
When you notice your dog is suffering from nausea, ensure it gets a complete health checkup from a vet. The vet is in the best position to determine the causes and treatment of nausea. A delayed treatment might make your dog feel worse.
The Dog Is Trying To Communicate With Its Owners
Dogs cannot talk like we humans, but they often communicate with us in different ways. Dog licking lips could be a sign of appeasement. You could find your dog licking its lips when worried or stressed out. When your dog is also faced with a threat, it could lick its lips to pacify itself in order not to be aggressive.
If your dog does something wrong and you begin to scold it, it could sit somewhere to begin licking its lips while making a little eye contact. Then, the dog may show some signs of appeasement, informing you that it is not a threat. The truth is, the dog may not understand why you are scolding it and might see you as a threat.
However, you should know that if the scolding becomes too much, the dog might feel threatened and become aggressive and defensive. So, instead of always scolding a dog when it does something wrong, you can use other methods.
Related post: Why Does My Dog Twitch In His Sleep?
The Dog Has A Dental Disease
If your dog has dental disease, it could cause oral pain, making it end up licking its lips, accompanied by excess saliva. You can easily detect this when your dog refuses to eat or finds it difficult to eat food due to its mouth hurting.
If you notice your dog is suffering from dental disease, it must get medical care from a vet. Otherwise, the dental disease might advance into more serious conditions, which could even lead to tooth loss and even foul odor from your dogs’ mouth.
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The Dog Has Swallowed A Foreign Object
If your dog has an object or something caught in its mouth, it could cause excessive licking of its lips. To be sure the licking is due to a foreign object, you could also notice the dog trying to rub its face on the ground and could also be seen sneezing frequently.
Small toys, bones, and even plants such as foxtails are examples of some foreign objects that could cause your dog to lick its lips. The object could be stuck somewhere between the dogs’ molar teeth, or even its nose, especially if the object came through its nose.
Regardless of where the foreign object is, ensure you take the dog to a vet urgently to help remove such object. If the object is stuck somewhere around the mouth and does not come out quickly, it could cause the dogs’ mouth to have a foul odor. Sedation may be needed for the removal of foxtails.
The Dog Is Experiencing Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
Another reason your dog could be licking its lips is that it has developed a disorder, canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, a disorder similar to dementia in humans. This usually occurs in old dogs and is a diagnosis of exclusion; the vet can only diagnose it after other causes of lip-licking have been excluded.
There are other symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome, including confusion, vocalization, changes in sleep and wake cycles, as well as uncontrolled pooping. You need to take your dog to the vet if you cannot identify the cause of its excessive licking of lips.
Also read: Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dogs Ears?
What To Do If Your Dog Licks Its Lips
First, you should know that when a dog licks its lips, it often signifies submission, but it can also mean that the dog is uncomfortable and stressed with a particular situation. So, the first thing you need to do when you find your dog licking its lips is identifying the cause.
You should avoid scolding a dog for licking its lips; punishment and aggression increase the dog’s anxiety and subdues it. If you think the cause is a behavioral issue, you can try some things to help the dog, including;
- Distracting the dog with a toy.
- Ignore the dog when it licks its lips often.
- Ensure the dog gets enough exercise to curb the behavior.
If you tried all these and the dog still licks its lips, the cause could be a medical issue, and you need to take the dog to a veterinary doctor for medical checkups and possible treatments. It becomes imperative when you notice other unusual symptoms, including drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, change in appetite, and weight loss.
Also, if the dog often licks its lips while displaying signs of discomfort and there seems to be no progress, you should immediately take the dog to the vet.
Dogs do not display attitudes or do things for no reason; sometimes, they do things for no apparent reason. However, certain behaviors are instinct, so you should expect the dog to display them once in a while, but when it becomes frequent, you know there is an issue with the dog, and you need to act fast.
Learn More: Why Does My Dog Get Hiccups?