Dogs will exhibit all sorts of weird and wonderful behaviors, many of which will be unique to the individual dog. For the most part, these behaviors and mannerisms will not be a cause of concern, but there are times when seemingly normal activity could be a sign that something isn’t quite right. A dog continuously licking lips could be one of those times.
So, why do dogs lick their lips so much?
Dogs will lip their lips and smack their lips together for a wide variety of reasons. To find out why YOUR pampered pooch is doing it, you’ll need to take a look at the bigger picture.
Dogs Licking Lips: The Obvious Cause
Humans will often lick their lips when they see something tasty, like food. Dogs lick their lips for the same reason: they can smell something tasty and are trying to work out what it is and if it’s for them.
(And if it’s not, can they steal and eat it before you catch them?)
Smelling food will literally cause your dog’s mouth to water. If you notice your dog always licking lips close to meal times, food anticipation is likely the reason why.
Why Do Dogs Lick their Lips When You Pet Them?
According to research, your dog will lick their lips frenziedly when you or someone else pets them. You might take this as a sign that your pooch is enjoying it, but it could be a sign that they feel uncomfortable. This is even more so the case if the tongue movement is quick and darting.
Dogs licking lips is one way they communicate with each other. If one dog is being too over-playful or boisterous, another dog would tell them to calm down by lip-licking (as well as other behaviors).
It could be the case that your pooch isn’t in the mood for scratches and pets. Maybe they’re telling you to calm down?
Flicking things around, a dog excessively licking lips could be a sign that they REALLY enjoy your petting. If you have been petting the dog’s favourite spot, they might start to drool out of enjoyment. They would then lick their lips to clean up the drool.
Read more: Where Do Dogs Like To Be Pet?
Dogs Licking Their Lips When You Discipline Them: Here’s Why They Do It
As well as using lip licking as a way to communicate that you/another dog should calm down or stop doing whatever it is you’re doing, a dog licking their lips could be a sign of submission. This behavior can often be displayed during times of discipline.
Dogs don’t always understand why you’re telling them off. They know you’re upset because of your body language and tone, but they don’t understand the words you’re saying.
In those cases, your dog might keep licking lips as a sign of submission. They are trying to appease you.
When dogs are anxious and submissive, there is a chance that they could quickly turn defensive, and then move into attack mode. It is important to understand the body language of your furry friends so that you can build better, happier relationships with them, and prevent conflict.
Why is My Dog Restless and Licking Lips Around Other Dogs?
As previously mentioned, dogs licking lips can be a sign of anxiety. If your dog constantly licks their lips when other dogs are around, or when other people are around, or in new and unfamiliar territories, it could be a sign that your poor pooch is anxious and uncomfortable.
Dealing with this anxiety symptom can be quite complex. Comforting, praising behavior from you will send mixed signals that your dog’s anxious behavior is a GOOD thing, which could then lead to them doing it more.
When Does a Dog Licking Lips Become a Problem?
Over-licking or over-grooming, as well as being a symptom of something not being right with your dog, can also cause other symptoms. These include sores, skin infections, open wounds, and more. These are not only painful around the mouth, but also make eating and drinking difficult, which could then lead to weight loss and dehydration.
A dog constantly licking lips can be a symptom of another underlying medical cause.
Let’s Talk About Dog Cold Sores
Dogs can suffer from cold sores just as humans do, and it’s just as unpleasant for your four-legged friends as it is for you, too. It is known as the Canine Herpes Virus (CHV), and it is NOT the same kind of cold sore virus that humans can get. You CANNOT pass the human cold sore virus on to your dog, but dogs can give CHV to each other.
Other symptoms of a cold sore on your dog’s lip include:
- Changes to the color of the lips, tongue, or gums;
- Avoiding eating/drinking;
- Making odd ‘smacking’ sounds while they eat/drink;
- Visible bumps, redness and/or irritation.
Dog Lip Licking & Nausea
Just as with humans, nausea can cause the saliva glands in dogs to work overdrive, so nausea and/or vomiting could be the root cause of your dog keep licking lips.
You will need to keep an eye on your dog’s general demeanor to find out if nausea and/or vomiting are the case, which will be a whole lot easier with Petcube’s interactive pet camera. Monitoring your dog around the clock will alert you to any problems, such as avoiding food, vomiting in those difficult-to-reach places, being lethargic, and more.
If your dog has gastrointestinal problems, you may need to seek treatment from a vet.
Is Toothache the Reason Your Dog Won’t Stop Licking Lips?
If your dog has any kind of pain or discomfort in the mouth area, licking lips could be a symptom. A broken tooth, ulcerated or wounded gums, infections, something stuck in the tooth, and more, can all cause this as a symptom.
Does your dog appear to be having oral problems? It might be time for a trip to the doggy dentist!
How to Stop Excessive Lip Licking in Dogs
In order to stop certain patterns of ‘bad’ behavior in dogs, you must first work out what is causing it.
If the cause is a medical one, such as vomiting, then a vet will be able to perform diagnostic tests and then administer the appropriate treatment. Nausea and vomiting are symptoms of a wide variety of conditions, many of which are benign and can be treated quickly.
If the cause is a behavioral one, such as anxiety around other dogs or unknown people, then a little patience, training, and understanding will go a long way. Removing your dog from the social setting is a great start; you can always wean the pup back into social life. You should also give them time to chill out and relax.
If you don’t know the dogs licking lips meaning, it’s not a bad idea to give your registered/local vet a call, or have a chat with one of Petcube’s 24/7 specialist vets. It’s always best to rule out medical causes first! And for just $29 per month you can subscribe for an Emergency Fund which will cover your furry kiddo's medical emergency needs!
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Lips When They See Food?
This is a natural reaction on the part of the dog. When they smell something tasty, it encourages saliva production. The smell of food literally makes your pooch drool, and the constant lip licking and smacking is to clean it up.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Lips When Being Pet?
Dogs will lick their lips when being pet for both good and bad reasons. If they are drooling while you pet them, it’s good. If they are nervously flicking their tongue across the mouth, however, it’s likely bad; they want you to stop.
Why is My Dog Smacking His Lips?
Lip smacking could be a side effect of lip licking in dogs – a side effect of flicking the tongue around the mouth. It could also be a symptom all of its own, however. Dogs with long coats can smack their lips in order to get fur out of it, and acid reflux can cause excess saliva production, which can cause lip smacking, drooling, and excessive lip licking.