Why Is My Dog Always Licking His Lips?

Why Is My Dog Always Licking His Lips?
Ⓒ Provided by LoveToKnow

By Saleema Lookman, LoveToKnow

Dogs often lick their chops when they're hungry or after a meal, but excessive lip-licking could point to a problem. Why doesn't your dog keep licking their lips? It could be due to anxiety, nausea, dehydration, mouth pain, or even a focal seizure. Addressing why your dog keeps licking their lips can help you resolve this behavior.

Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Their Lips?

Dogs lick their lips for several reasons. It's most often a natural response to increased salivation, which happens when a dog is expecting a meal or has just finished eating. But there are a few other common physical and behavioral reasons why dogs lick their lips, which all require attention.

Read More: Easy Ways to Determine Your Dog's Age

1. Anxiety

Excessive lip-licking can be a sign that your dog is nervous. In these cases, they'll often flick their tongue out and touch their nose, so you can see the underside of the tongue. Anxious dogs might yawn in addition to licking their lips, or they'll drool or pant.

Try to pay attention when your dog licks their lips. If it happens in potentially stressful situations, like right before you leave the house or whenever the cat walks into the room, it could be that your dog is engaging in nervous lip-licking. Other signs of anxiety include whining, pacing, restlessness, trembling, tucked tail, or hiding.

2. Nausea

Just as you start to feel your mouth get watery when you think you're going to vomit, dogs experience the same thing. Hypersalivation from nausea can prompt your dog to keep licking their lips. A dog who is nauseated may also drool, swallow excessively, gag, vomit, have diarrhea, refuse to eat, stop drinking water, have low energy, and appear to have pain in their belly.

If your dog keeps licking their lips throughout the day without any obvious rhyme or reason, it could be that they're nauseous. Have them examined by your vet to find out why they're nauseous and help them feel more comfortable. If it's a puppy who seems nauseated, don't delay in getting them to the vet. Viruses like parvo and intestinal blockages can make puppies feel sick and are life-threatening if not treated promptly.

3. Oral Pain

An uncomfortable mouth might cause your dog to frantically lick their lips. Dental problems like broken teeth or root abscesses might seem like they'd be obvious, but they can easily be hidden in the back of your dog's mouth.

Along with licking their lips, you might notice bad breath, pawing at the face, decreased appetite, dropping food out of their mouth, pink-tinged saliva, or facial swelling. If your dog allows, your vet may be able to examine their mouth while they're awake. However, in most cases your dog will need to be sedated or anesthetized for your vet to get a really good look at their teeth.

Read More: 7 Signs that Your Dog Loves You

4. Appeasement

Your dog might be licking their lips as a sign of submission. Appeasement licking or yawning is something dogs do to let another dog or person know they're not a threat. Often dogs will squint their eyes or avert their gaze when they do this type of submissive lip-licking. They might also show their teeth in a non-threatening "grin," roll onto their back, or even urinate.

If you notice your dog licking their lips only when they're interacting with another animal or person, this could be the reason behind it. Working on socializing and positive reinforcement training can help instill confidence in excessively submissive dogs.

5. Dehydration

If your dog is licking their lips like they're thirsty, it could be that they're actually thirsty. Dehydration can cause lip-licking. Check to ensure you have a constant supply of fresh water for your dog at all times.

However, an insufficient water supply is only one of the reasons your dog could be dehydrated. Others include fever, heatstroke, fluid loss from diarrhea or vomiting, diabetes, or kidney disease.

You can check to see if your dog is properly hydrated by gently lifting up the skin between their shoulder blades to see if it bounces back quickly. If it does, they should be good, but if it stays up or takes a while to return to normal, they're likely dehydrated.

6. Focal Seizure

In rare cases, episodes of lip-licking could be due to abnormal brain activity. During partial or focal seizures, only part of a dog's brain is affected, so they usually remain conscious but will experience localized usual movements. This might be involuntary lip-licking, "fly-biting," where a dog bites at the air, or muscle twitches.

The episode will usually resolve as quickly as it started. Your veterinarian can discuss antiepileptic medications or other treatment options for focal seizures.

How to Keep Your Dog From Licking Their Lips

Occasional lip-licking is nothing to be concerned about, but if your dog won't stop licking their lips, it could indicate a problem. Be mindful of whether there are things that might trigger your dog to start licking their lips. This might mean the behavior is related to stress or appeasement. But if they keep licking their lips all day, every day, see your vet to get to the bottom of it. You can help your dog feel comfortable and ease their frantic lip-licking with the right treatment.

Read More: 4 Ways to Boost Your Dog's Mental Health

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Pets Magazine: Why Is My Dog Always Licking His Lips?
Why Is My Dog Always Licking His Lips?
Dogs frequently lick their lips for six different reasons. Learn why your dog could be acting this way and how to help them stop.
Pets Magazine
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