I’ve noticed that my dog licks his lips constantly–and not just at dinner time! Why do you think he’s doing this and should I be concerned?
Licking Issues in Lazybrook
Dear Licking Issues,
I have to be honest: your question stumped me! The excessive licking of the lips is a behavior that I’ve noticed among my canine friends, but wasn’t something that I’d ever really wondered about until you contacted us here at The Leader News. Thanks to your query, I did some digging around and found a few potential answers to your question,
A Form of Communication and Affection
According to many dog experts, (and much like humans) dogs use their tongues, mouths and lips to communicate. The difference is that, while humans use their mouths to communicate via speech, dogs use their mouths to communicate via biting and licking. When you see your dog obsessively licking his lips, what you might be witnessing is something that experts call an “appeasement gesture.” According to the website, www.thespruce.com, dogs often lick their lips as a way to calm or soothe someone that they perceive as a threat. Dogs often will accompany this lip-licking appeasement gesture with averted eyes, to present as submissive. So, in this case, your dog might be recognizing you as the ultimate “Alpha” in his “pack.” Licking also releases endorphins in your dog’s brain, which bring him feelings of contentment and pleasure, so, in this case, it’s a sign of affection.
Health Issues Can Cause Lip Licking Behavior
I also discovered that occasionally, lip-licking can be a sign of a health related issue. Often, when dogs are nauseous (you might have seen dogs licking their lips excessively when riding in the car) they’ll lick their lips and yawn often. If you see this happening, you might prepare for a vomiting pup. Vets also explain that lip-licking can be a sign of mouth pain, so a visit to the vet to have it checked out might not hurt.
Pay Attention To Your Dog’s Environment
No matter what is causing your dog to lick his lips excessively, it might be a good idea to investigate his environment a bit more and check to see if there is anything in your home that could be causing your pooch undue stress. The addition of a new animal into the home, a new person or even a new routine might be causing your dog to stress out a bit and he’s dealing with it by licking his lips. Perhaps spending some quiet, quality time with your dog might help to relieve any stress that might be causing this licking to happen. If all else fails, a trip to the vet will rule out any mouth issues and your vet might also be able to guide you in some training methods to help your dog cope and find some less tongue-wagging ways to express himself.
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