My dog is always licking his lips! Why does he do this? It doesn’t seem to just happen at feeding time either–he does it all day, every day (and even in his sleep).
Licking Lips in Lazybrook
Dear Licking Lips,
What an interesting question! This is something that many of us notice our dogs doing, but never really question why they do it. Thanks to your query, I did some digging around and found a few potential answers to your question.
Form of communication and affection
According to many dog experts, they use their tongues, mouths and lips to communicate much like humans do. 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 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 be cause
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 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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