Excessive Lip Licking In Dogs – Should You Be Worried?

Occasional lip licking in dogs is only natural. But when your furry friend takes to licking its lips with an increasing frequency, you need to sit up and pay attention.

Now, what are the causes of excessive lip licking in dogs? Reasons for excessive lip licking in dogs include stress, anxiety, hunger or an underlying health condition. Excessive lip licking in dogs can also be due to fear, poisoning, or a sign that your pooch is overheating.

The reasons for excessive lip licking in dogs vary greatly. And the ability to distinguish between the various forms of lip licking in dogs is something you should be able to do as a dog owner, as this can significantly impact on your furry friend’s quality of life. Thankfully, this, along with steps to take, when you notice excessive lip licking in your pooch is explained to great detail in today’s article. However, before we proceed, let’s see why your dog may be licking its lips a lot.

Why Is My Dog Licking His Lips A Lot?

Your Dog May Be Feeling Nauseous

Excessive lip licking, coupled with swallowing is an indicator that a pooch is feeling nauseous. Nausea in dogs typically results in hypersalivation and drooling, and pooches lick their lips to get rid of the excess saliva produced.

Nausea, accompanied by vomiting and licking is usually an indicator of another underlying health condition or poisoning. And if it persists in your pooch for more than 24 hours, then you should schedule an appointment with your vet immediately.

Your Dog May Be Dehydrated

A dehydrated dog will constantly and excessively lick its lips as a way of combating dryness in its mouth or tongue.

Frequent licking in this case is a dog’s way of trying to stimulate its salivary gland, and it can also be a signal to you that a refreshing drink for your dog is long overdue.

Your Dog May Be Suffering From An Underlying Health Condition

The reason your dog is licking its lips a lot, may be due to the presence of an underlying medical condition. Common health issues indicated by a dog licking its lips more often than usual include:

Bloat

Bloat refers to a condition in which a dog’s stomach fills up with gas, food or fluid, thereby resulting in an unnatural expansion of the tummy, and it can be the reason for your dog’s frequent lip licking.

In most cases, excessive lip licking in dogs caused by bloat is usually accompanied by yawning, vomiting and drooling.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). And one of the indicators that your pooch may be suffering from OCD is a tendency to lick its lips more frequently.

OCD in dogs may occur as a result of an illness or stress. And apart from excessive lip licking, the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in dogs is also characterised by behaviors such as tail chasing, self-injury, pacing or circling and excessive chewing of an object.

Oral Infections

Excessive lip licking in your dog can be an indicator that your pooch is suffering from a disease or infection of the mouth or teeth.

Common oral infections and diseases responsible for excessive lip licking in dogs include tooth abscesses, gingivitis, and a fractured or loose tooth. Additionally, the presence of a foreign object in your dog’s throat can result in frequent lip licking.

Canine Seizure

Partial canine seizures affect only a portion of the doggie’s brain, and may be the reason your dog has suddenly taken to licking its lips more frequently.

Lip licking in this situation is typically accompanied by fly biting motions and unusual behavior. And a pooch exhibiting these symptoms should be taken to see a vet as soon as possible.

Other Examples Of Lip Licking

Apart from the health and physical conditions mentioned above, excessive lip licking in dogs can also happen due to:

Hunger

An increase in a dog’s lip licking can be a sign of hunger, and also a form of reminder for the canine’s owner to serve its meal.

Additionally, dogs, just like humans, will lick their lips when they see food. And it is not uncommon for pooches to smack and lick their lips after eating in an effort to clean food remnants.

Fear

A dog that feels threatened, either by the presence of a human or another dog, will lick its lips with an increased frequency as a calming behavior to appease the threat, and prevent further aggression.

Boredom

Your dog can also be licking its lips just because it’s bored and has nothing better to do.

Pain

Most dogs are quite stoic about pain, but frequent lip licking by your pooch can be an indicator that it’s in great discomfort.

Comfort

Lip licking in dogs releases pleasure boosting endorphins. And when you notice your furry friend excessively licking its lips, it can be a sign that it is comfortable and enjoying itself.

Sleep Ritual

If lip licking helps your pooch go to sleep, then you will occasionally come across your furry friend licking its lips just before falling asleep. In this case, lip licking is nothing more than a ritual to help the canine sleep.

Poisoning

Lip licking in dogs can be an indicator that a pooch has ingested a toxic substance or been bitten by a poisonous insect or animal.

Unpleasant Tastes

When a pooch licks its lips more often, it can be that such a pooch has ingested something with a nasty taste such as an unusual food product, detergent or chemicals.

What Causes Excessive Lip Licking In Dogs?

Stress Or Anxiety

The tongue flip or excessive lip licking is a classic sign of stress and anxiety in doggies. Stress and anxiety can develop in a dog due to an invasion of the canine’s private space, moving to a new, unfamiliar environment or the introduction of a new baby or pet.

Excessive lip licking in this case is the doggie’s means of communicating with its human that it’s uncomfortable with the new changes, and a subtle plea to make the cause of stress or anxiety go away.

Signs Of Stress And Anxiety In Dogs

We’ve established that stressed doggies will lick their lips and flick their tongues more frequently, but this may often be accompanied by:

  • Pacing.
  • Ears laid flat against the head.
  • Yawning.
  • Growling and whining.
  • Rapid blinking, among others.

Attention Seeking Behavior

Dogs may also lick their lips excessively as a way of drawing their owner’s attention. And this behavior is typically reinforced if you’ve previously given your dog attention when you notice it licking its lips.

Attention seeking by lip licking is commonly observed in pooches that have been left alone at home for a considerable period, or in doggies whose owners do not pay enough attention to them.

Possible Effects Of Excessive Lip Licking In Dogs

Excessive lip licking by a doggie may result in inflammation and swelling of the lips, and the skin surrounding the mouth; This, in turn, will lead to even more licking of the lips by the Fido, in a potentially endless loop.

Inflammation of the lips can also lead to secondary skin infections, and this can degenerate to a chronic skin condition, if left untreated.

Additionally, if the underlying health condition responsible for excessive lip licking in a doggie goes unchecked, it can be potentially detrimental to your furry friend’s health.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Compulsive Licking?

Book An Appointment With Your Vet

The first thing to do, once you notice a compulsive licking disorder in your pooch, is to book a medical appointment with your vet. It can also help to record a video of your pet licking its lips, and take it along on your visit to the vet’s.

After running a series of tests and examinations on your furry friend, the vet will be in a better position to decide whether the cause of your doggie’s excessive lip licking is medical or behavioral.

If the cause of excessive lip licking in your pooch is medical, your vet will prescribe the appropriate medication to treat the underlying health condition. And in the cases of behavior-induced licking, you may need to employ the services of a behavioral trainer for your pooch.

Regular Medical Check-Ups

Taking your pooch for regular medical check-ups may also help prevent the development of various dental issues and digestive conditions typically indicated by excessive lip licking.

Create A Stress-Free Environment For Your Dog

As stated earlier, excessive lip licking can be a sign of anxiety in dogs. And if you want to eliminate this behavior in your pooch, it is your duty as owner to ensure your furry friend is as comfortable as possible.

Start by identifying and eliminating stress triggers in your pooch, and give your pooch the required amount of attention, care and love to prevent development of the obsessive compulsive disorder.

Additionally, exercising can be a great way of reducing stress in your pooch. And you should regularly take time out to engage your doggie in physical activities like walking and playing games like fetch.

Try Distracting Your Dog

When you notice excessive lip licking in your dog, you can try to distract it by offering it either its favorite toy, treats or something else to nibble and chew on, and divert attention away from the lips.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Making sure your pooch has constant and regular access to clean, refreshing water will help prevent issues of hypersalivation, and consequently eliminate excessive lip licking.

What To Spray On A Dog To Stop Licking?

Dog-appeasing pheromone is a substance that is commonly used to reduce fear, stress, anxiety and obsessive tendencies in pooches. And using a pheromone spray on a stressed doggie can help eliminate problems of excessive lip licking.

Related Questions

Why Does My Dog Keep Sticking His Tongue In And Out? When your dog keeps sticking its tongue in and out, it can either be panting to aid with temperature regulation or simply because its jawbone is too small to accommodate the tongue. Additionally, the continuous sticking in and out of tongues in a pooch can be an indicator of an oral cancer or any of the various dental diseases.

Are Dog Licks Really Kisses? A dog’s lick can be an equivalent of the human kiss, and pooches typically lick to show affection. However, you should also know that dogs will lick someone who is seemingly agitated as a way to help such a person relieve stress. And if your pooch finds the taste of your skin appealing, then you should be prepared to be on the receiving end of many licks.

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet And Hands? When a dog licks your hand and feet constantly, it can either be that the pooch is showing affection, helping you relieve stress or you have just mixed its favorite food. Additionally, your dear Fido may think it’s grooming you by constantly licking your hands and feet, and you may also receive occasional licks as a sign of respect and trust.

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