5 Possible Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Lips

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Our pets have a unique way of communicating with people, especially with us, their owners. They have certain gestures, such as hip-wagging, paw-raising, and winking. All of these have different meanings. But what if your buddy happens to lick his lips all the time? Is it normal or should you be worried? Learn why your dog does this in today’s post.

Reason #1: Symptom of an Underlying Illness

Believe it or not, some dogs lick their lips when they are feeling a bit under the weather. It is highly likely that your dog is experiencing nausea or an unpleasant sensation of discomfort in the stomach. It looks like your buddy is licking his lips but in fact; he might be trying to get rid of the excess saliva. Other than drooling, nausea is often characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Teeth grinding
  • Diarrhea
  • Inappetence

Nausea, although common in dogs, should be treated immediately. If your pet is suffering from it and continues to display a lack of appetence, it could make him sicker. It can even put your pet’s life at risk if he defecates more often than usual.

There are many possible causes of nausea in canines. It can occur when they have high levels of phosphorus in their body. Some larger problems such as pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, and kidney issues are also associated with nausea and it could also be a side effect of a certain drug, such as antibiotics.

Reason #2: Sign of Dehydration

The easiest way to confirm dehydration in dogs is by checking their gums. The gums of a well-hydrated dog have a pinkish-red color and have a moist if not a smooth texture. The gums of a dehydrated animal look dry and feel tacky when you touch them.

Do note that dehydration is also related to nausea. If your pet is not well-hydrated, he could also become nauseous. Learn the proper treatment for nausea from our tips above. Apparently, dehydration is caused by lack of water but it is also possible that it is a symptom of a larger problem.

If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, don’t self-medicate at home. Consult a veterinarian first before giving any type of medication, especially if it comes with other symptoms. Remember that treating dehydration is not as simple as giving your dog water so he rehydrates.

A vet may recommend giving Pedialyte because it helps replenish the lost fluids including the electrolytes. There is a proper dosage for dogs and you should follow your vet’s advice in administering it. Some dogs, though, will not drink even when they are already dehydrated which means you have to be extra creative in urging them to do so. Some vets recommend giving ice cubes that the dog could lick.

To avoid dehydration, ensure that there is plenty of water available for your pet at all times. Make sure that the water is clean and fresh and the water bowl is also washed regularly.

The amount of water your dog needs should be equivalent to his weight in pounds. So if he weighs around 30 lb., he should drink at least 30 ounces of water per day. That is like giving him three cups of water every day.

Reason #3: It’s an Oral Problem

Lip smacking, accompanied by drooling, is a common sign of mouth problems in canines. There are different oral problems that can happen to dogs. It is possible that there is something lodged in your pet’s mouth. In some instances, the lip-licking is due to a periodontal issue and if not, a case of salivary gland problem.

Dogs are naturally curious animals. They also like chewing so it is pretty common for them to have something embedded in their mouth. The usual items that get lodged are sticks and bones.

You will know something is embedded in your buddy’s oral cavity if the unrestrained drooling comes with coughing and your dog looks as if he’s crying. He might produce gagging noises and he will act like he is trying to swallow again and again. There might also be blood coming from his mouth, depending on the size and the type of the object inside his mouth.

In case something is stuck in your pet’s mouth and you can remove it, do it immediately. It’s not very difficult to do it if you have a small dog because you can turn him upside down to get rid of the object. The Heimlich maneuver could work if you have a medium-sized or a large dog. This is done by positioning behind the pet and wrapping your arms around him as you apply pressure to the ribs. This allows the dog to cough and for you to remove the embedded object.

Even the tiniest objects can cause an infection if it already reached the deeper portions of the oral cavity. If you cannot get rid of the object, it is better to take the dog to a vet or a veterinary dentist for further evaluation. The doctor will check the area and remove the embedded object by using a pair of tweezers.

Reason #4: As an Appeasement Behavior

Did you notice your pooch doing it when there is another dog around? Or during a time when he obviously seems fearful? For some dogs, the lip-licking habit serves as a response to a not-so-pleasant situation. Dog appeasement signals are our dogs’ ways of telling us that they are being submissive during a particular situation.

Appeasement behavior is a social behavior that is normal both in humans and animals. It is divided into two main categories. One is the active submission and the other one is a passive one. It has been said that if your pet licks his lips or other areas of his body, he is trying to seek attention from you.

An appeasement gesture could be a dog’s way of informing you that he is not a threat to you. Maybe you noticed him doing this after you disciplined him. The lip-licking usually comes with a submissive grin. This is also his way of letting you know that he is just craving for further reassurance from you.

Reason #5: Your Dog Is Getting Ready for His Food.

Last but not least, it could be that your dog is just anticipating a nice treat and it causes him to have an increased saliva production. If he is lurking around the dinner table while you are eating or sniffing around your kitchen while you cook, it’s just that Fido is waiting for a serving of his meal.

In many cases, this constant craving for food is normal. Don’t get it wrong, but some dogs are just natural gluttons. Some pets will only listen to their masters during training time when there is food involved. There is no reason for you to freak out. Your only concern is making sure the dog maintains a normal weight and is not exposed to preservatives that some doggie treats may contain.

The only time you need to seek a vet’s advice is if your pet’s intense hunger is associated with sudden weight loss and lethargy. It could be a symptom of hypothyroidism, which slows the metabolism because the body lacks the ability to produce adequate thyroid hormones.

If your pet used to be very energetic but now looks tired even when he is not involved in any activity, there might be something wrong happening in his body. Hypothyroidism happens in canines when their thyroid gland depreciates or is inflamed.

Otherwise, it could be a sign of diabetes mellitus that is pretty common among middle-aged canines. Bring the dog to a vet so he could be examined and receive the necessary treatments before the condition becomes worse.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are many possible reasons why dogs lick their lips. This could be a simple reaction to an unlikely situation but it could also be because something is wrong in their body. They may be suffering from a dental problem, or they may be experiencing nausea that causes them to produce excessive amounts of saliva.


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