/What It Means When Dogs Lick Their Lips

What It Means When Dogs Lick Their Lips

We’ll often catch our dogs staring intently at their (or our) food while licking their lips in anticipation. While this action is a typical reaction to the sight and smell of food, when done repetitively in other circumstances, it can take on a very different meaning. Here are some possibilities that explain why your dog has been licking its lips.


1. Mouth discomfort

Lip licking could be a physical reaction to pain or discomfort. It might be something minor such as having something саught between its teeth or stuck tо thе roof оf its mоuth. Serious issues could be gum disease or an aching tooth. If уоur dоg allows you to tаkе a look іn its mouth, try to locate the issue with the help of a flashlight. Licking the lips might also be a sign of severe pain in the body. Some dogs whine or bark when they are in pain, while others may lick their nose instead. If you can’t seem to locate the source of the pain, it may be wise to bring your pup to the vet.

Read more: 5 Signs Your Dog Is In Pain

2. Nausea

Anоthеr cause of lip licking is nаuѕеа. Hаѕ your dog еаtеn anything that could hаvе uрѕеt its ѕtоmасh? Have you nоtісеd уоur dog еаtіng grаѕѕ? Has уоur dоg thrown up or dry heaved recently? These are signs that your pup might be feeling nauseas.

Rеѕеаrсh shows that a dоg exhibiting such behaviour соuld be ѕuffеrіng from acid rеflux. You may want to consider feeding your dog a bland diet аnd even giving it some pерсіd tо alleviate the nausea if it continues to persist. If your dog is vomiting repetitively and has a loss of appetite, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Read more: Why does my dog eat its own vomit?

3. Way of communication

Similar to yawning, dogs sometimes lick their lips to convey a message. Licking is usually done to appease the recipient, one who is perceived as a threat or displaying aggressive behaviour. Both humans and dogs can be the recipient of this calming signal, but this behaviour originates from the days of pack living as a way to avoid conflict. Stressed and fearful dogs may also lick their lips, much like how humans may bite their lips when faced with a nerve-wrecking situation. For example, dog trainers have observed that many of their dogs tend to lick their lips on the first day of obedience training class. The stress from being in a new environment combined with the confusion of being taught new commands often results in some stress-induced lip licking.

Read more: Things Your Dog Can Read About You

4. Better sense of smell

What may appear to be lip licking might turn out to be your dog’s conscientious efforts in keeping its nose wet. Wet noses are more effective in picking up scent as compared to dry noses. A wetter nose will easily pick up particles in the air that carry scents. This brings the particles closer to the nose, allowing the dog to get a better whiff.

Read more: Is My Dog Sick If It Has A Dry Nose

What causes dogs to lick excessively?


Is your dog licking certain things in an excessive manner? Obsessive licking can be a clinical sign of an underlying illness, according to PetMD. Here are three medical reasons why dogs lick excessively.

1. Allergies and infections: If you notice your dog licking its paws or chewing at its hind end constantly, allergies could be the cause of excessive licking.

2. Nausea: If your dog is licking strange surfaces, it could be a sign of gastrointestinal upset.

3. Behavioural issues: Separation anxiety, loud noises or change in the environment can lead to excessive licking in dogs.

Always take the time to observe your dog carefully if you find it acting out of its usual behaviour. Most licking behaviours should not be a cause for concern, but if you notice changes in your dog’s energy level and appetite, a consultation with your vet is highly recommended in case the cause is medical.