Why Do Dogs Lick Their Lips? Reading Your Pup's Peculiar Behavior

Ritwik Bhuyan
Nov 16, 2022 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Oct 23, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Welsh corgi dog licking lips as a calming signal.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.7 Min

Humans, whenever they smack their lips, it is to savor the taste of something delicious, so no wonder it is a common notion that dogs do it for the same reason too.

Dogs are known to communicate in many different ways using body language, and when dogs lick their lips, it is a way to convey a message. Every dog is different, so owners need to realize what their dog wants when they see lip licking.

Observing when dogs lick their lips is important as it gives owners a pretty good idea of what is going on with the pets. Dog licking their lips is sometimes referred to as an appeasement gesture which includes different behaviors that dogs show when stressed.

Dog licking their lips states that they are worried about something.

Dogs lick their lips to appease someone or any animal they count as a threat to sway off aggression. Dogs do not understand many human gestures, and lip-licking is their way of saying, 'I am not a threat to you.'

Sometimes you might see a dog licking his lips when he is confused or frustrated. This happens regularly when you are training your dog, and he does not understand the steps.

You will notice the dog licks his lips in between, and this is a cue for you to stop the training session right there. The dog will not understand the training anymore if he is distracted by confusion.

The best thing you can do when the dog is stressed is play with the dog and make him relax. You will slowly notice that the lip-smacking has stopped.

A dog might be licking his lips due to the desire for a tasty treat too. Pet dogs or dogs, in general, are very fond of food, and this lip-smacking can sometimes be seen in this too.

Dogs might lick their lips to remove sand or food particles from their mouth. However, excessive lip-licking can lead to other problems or behavioral issues and should be taken a look at by the vet.

There can be many health issues as well when you see dogs lick their lips. Excessive lip-licking can be seen due to nausea, pain in the pet dog's mouth, and dental disease. If you find any of these reasons why the dog might be licking his lips, contact the veterinarian immediately.

Norwegian dog trainer named Turid Rugaas has used the term 'calming signal,' associating lip-licking with fear, stress, and confusion in a dog. The dog trainer believes that lip-licking can start due to stress but soon can turn into an obsessive habit.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about why do dogs lick themselves and why do dogs lick wounds here on Kidadl?

What is lip-licking a sign of?

There are a lot of causes that can make dogs lick their lips. Some might say the dog is licking his lips as the weather is dry, and others might indicate excessive licking due to tasty food. It is pretty normal most of the time. Here are a variety of reasons for what a dog licking his lips indicates.

Naturally, dryness can cause a dog to lick its lips. It can be the dry weather, a bug hitting the lips, or something stuck near the lips.

Irritants like sand will cause your dog to lick the lips. Dogs will indulge in lip-licking even in anticipation of food. The salivary glands will start flowing when food is near, and it will lead to lip-smacking.

A dog licking its lips can sometimes be seen during anxiety. A little confusion and frustration may also make your dog lick its lips. Confusion can happen when the dog is unaware during training and when they are unsure of what is required.

In this situation., a dog may resort to lip-licking to communicate that it is stressed or frightened. The pet dogs might even yawn to show signs of appeasement gesture.

When another dog approaches your pet dog, you will notice your dog is licking its lips. The dog may avoid eye contact and resort to smacking lips. Dogs communicate with the other one this way to notify that they don't want to fight.

There are various reasons for lip-licking related to illnesses in dogs. All types of bites to the lips may make a dog licking lips. The bites can be anything from insects like mosquitoes, spiders, bees, or ticks. A dog licks its wounds to try and reduce the pain.

A dog licking his lips can also signify dehydration as it suffers from fluid losses from diarrhea or vomiting. Sometimes dogs may eat grass to facilitate vomit. Nausea might follow.

You can judge a dental disease in your dog by looking into the behavior of how the dog may lick its lips. As the problem increases, the plaque turns to tartar and loss of teeth.

The disease can also create gum disease facilitated by the bacteria present. Dog owners might see their dogs licking their lips excessively, while a foul odor might come from the mouth of the dog.

Dogs might sometimes lick their lips excessively if something is stuck in the dog's mouth or tongue. Bones, toys, or sticks might get stuck in the mouth or tongue and irritate. Dogs having nausea salivate more and are known for drooling. The dog licks its lips just before vomiting in this condition.

Oral medical problems can also make a dog smack its lips. If this oral issue is typical and the lip-licking is not happening regularly, there is no reason to call your vet.

Some other reasons for a dog's licking the lips are trauma, seizures, over-anxiety, and a bad taste while eating. Most of the illnesses require the attention of a veterinarian quickly.

Yawing and petting: do dogs lick their lips when comfortable?

Yes, a dog may show signs of being comfortable when they lick its lips but not always. A dog's behavior can be judged by how it is licking lips.

A dog might come near you for you to pet him, and the dog will instead smack its lips in harmony. This is not a lip smack of anxiety or being nervous.

It is just pure happiness that has made the dog lick his lips and is quite normal. Usually, lip-licking and yawning might be signs of nervousness or stress, and it can also be some medical conditions. However, many dogs love being petted and can smack their lips in approval.

Dog licking his lips surrounded by wild flowers.

Why do dogs lick their lips when they see food?

Food is something no one can live without, and even humans smack their lips if they see food. Dogs are no exceptions and will drool over something they find delicious.

In a normal circumstance, a dog may lick his lips continuously when hungry. It is a natural instinct, and this behavior is seen in almost all dog breeds.

If you show a treat to your dog while preparing his food, he will lick his lips excessively until the food arrives. This behavior has a use, as the dog licks the lips to stop saliva from pouring out of the mouth. The food makes the dog drool, similar to us.

What to do if your dog won't stop licking their lips?

In this circumstance, the first thing to do is to see if the root of this behavior is because the dog has anxiety.

It is essential to note the dog's behavior so that the nervousness does not lead to aggression in the future. It is important to care for the dog as much as you care for yourself.

Find out what is making the dog anxious and remove that from the proximity of the dog. Dogs often lick their lips while training, which indicates that you should stop for the day. He has lost all attention.

Other than these, some medical conditions also make a dog lick its lips. In this situation, it is essential to take the advice of a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs lick their lips, then why not take a look at why do dogs shake or what are joggers.

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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