Have you ever wondered, why do dogs lick their lips?
If your dog keeps licking their lips, you might think they are hungry or have tasted something really good! However, dogs communicate via body language in many ways – licking their lips is just one of them. When your four-legged best friend is smacking their chops excessively, it’s only natural to wonder what this means and what they are trying to tell you. To answer this question, it is necessary to look at the context. You should observe when, how, and what prompts your dog to do this. Every dog is different but below we will explore the reasons why dogs lick their lips. We’ll also look at when it should be a cause of concern.
Why won’t my dog stop licking his lips?
Dogs can lick their lips for many reasons, including the obvious desire for a tasty treat or to remove irritants such as food particles or sand. Continuous lip licking though, indicates more of a behavioural or medical issue.
Does my dog licking their lips indicate a medical issue?
As well as for many other reasons, dogs can lick their lips due to physical conditions. These include: nausea, mouth or dental problems, Gastroesophageal reflux, intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis or sudden changes to their diet. In conjunction with other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, excessive lip licking could indicate the onset of a condition such as liver or kidney disease or Addison’s disease. If your dog is showing changes in behaviour, it is always a good idea to make a prompt appointment with their veterinary practice, to rule out a serious medical problem.
Do dogs lick their lips for behavioural reasons?
Dogs lick their lips for all sorts of different reasons but lip-licking is also widely used as an appeasing or submissive gesture. This can be to defuse a potentially tense situation or make greetings more relaxed and friendly. This behaviour can be demonstrated with both other dogs and people. For example, if a dog is getting too boisterous, another might use lip-licking and other calming signals. This is their way of asking the other pooch to calm down.
The University of Bristol’s Veterinary School offers the following advice about interpreting the behaviour signs:
“Dogs often lick their lips when given a treat, but lip-licking is also shown when a dog feels uncertain, anxious or fearful.”
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Barking Mad, the UK’s leading home dog boarding provider, assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health – even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available.