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Dog Smacking Lips: Why Dogs Lick Their Lips

A dog smacking their lips together over and over again is a sure sign that something is up, but there can be many reasons why they are repeatedly smacking lips. 

As an owner, you might be worried if your dog smacks their lips together loudly and repeatedly. In most scenarios, though, it's either a cry for attention or a signal that they are hungry. 

In rare cases, a dog smacking lips a lot can be a symptom of a more severe problem, but only if other symptoms accompany the behavior. In this article, we'll look at the reasons why your dog keeps smacking lips and licking things and explain when you need to worry. 

Why is my dog smacking his lips? 

It's a common question because it's an all too common form of curious behavior that all dog breeds exhibit. Why do dogs lick or smack their lips together? 

Dogs make great use of their senses, which is the primary reason why a dog licking lips together is a very regular sight. Dogs use their sense of taste, alongside their sense of smell, to examine and explore the world around them. 

This means that a dog is very likely to smack their lips together when they are hungry or thirsty, and a dog smacking lips after eating is just their way of taking in all the flavors! On its own, this sort of behavior really isn't too much to worry about, but in certain situations, it will need more investigation. 

The most common causes of lip-smacking are usually the following:

  • Your dog is hungry or anticipating its next meal
  • Your dog is thirsty or anticipating its next drink
  • Your dog is looking for attention
  • Your dog is feeling nauseated
  • Your dog has a problem with its mouth
  • Your dog is in pain (not necessarily mouth-related pain)
  • Your dog is anxious

Let's look at these reasons in more detail, so you know when and when not to worry!

Your dog is hungry or thirsty

Often, the most common cause of lip-smacking is going to be hunger. Dogs get cranky, too, when they are hungry, and they start to lick their lips and smack them together. 

If your dog is hanging around their food bowl or spending time in the kitchen while smacking their lips, then they are probably just looking to be fed. If it's not long until their mealtime, then wait, and give them a good feed. 

If it's not mealtime, then a treat will help them calm down and be patient. The same goes for thirst, and you should ensure that your dog has access to fresh drinking water in the home and when you are out and about. 

Your dog is seeking attention

Dogs don't do well without attention (but let's face it, that's one of the reasons we love them!). When dogs are looking for attention, they can start licking their lips loudly and lip-smacking until you show them affection. 

Try not to pander to them all the time, but if they are lip-smacking a lot, they might want more than a cuddle and could be asking for a walk!

Your dog is nauseated 

Lip-smacking can also be a sign that your dog is feeling unwell, and in particular, nauseated. This often results from an upset stomach, which can be messy for you and the dog. 

Your dog often starts to lick their lips when there is a build-up of bile or stomach acid, a result of acid reflux, gastrointestinal difficulties, or a prelude to a bad case of vomiting. If your dog is exhibiting other symptoms, such as lethargy, or if they appear anxious or distressed, then it's a good sign they are nauseated. 

Nausea might go away, or they may need to vomit, but if it's an isolated incident, then it's likely they've just had a stomach upset, and there's not much to worry about. 

Your dog has a mouth problem

Are you wondering, 'why does my dog keep licking his lips and swallowing?' It could be a case of mouth problems or mouth pain. If there's a dog smacking lips at night, and continuing to smack lips after eating, then this could well be the cause.

Mouth problems can vary from mouth ulcers, cuts, or bacterial infections, to serious medical conditions such as mouth cancer. If you suspect your dog is in pain and has a problem with its mouth, seek further advice from your vet. They'll be able to run tests and make any diagnosis before offering treatments. 

Your dog is anxious 

Is your dog smacking lips and shaking when other people or dogs are around? Or are you wondering, 'why is my dog smacking lips when petted?'

The problem is often anxiety, and your dog may simply feel nervous or distressed and is trying to tell you by smacking their lips together repeatedly. 

This can be a difficult situation to handle, as your dog may only be temporarily distressed and may simply grow used to the other dogs or people. If behavioral problems persist, you may want to consult a therapist. 

Your dog is in pain 

Dogs also smack their lips together when they are in pain. Again, the reaction may be automatic, or they may be trying to tell you that they are feeling anxious or distressed because of the discomfort. 

If any other symptoms accompany the lip-smacking - there may well be visible wounds or visible signs of illness - then inspect your dog, and take them to the vet if pain persists. 

If your dog is in pain, you can temporarily help them to get around the house by setting up a dog ramp for bed before you have them diagnosed. A bed ramp can help with recovery, too, by allowing your dog to get up and down from the bed or sofa for a cuddle with ease! 

Dog smacking lips: the last word

If your dog is smacking their lips together because they are hungry or just attention-seeking, then there really is nothing to worry about. Just give them a good feed and take them out for a walk!

However, if there's a lot of lip-smacking, and it doesn't disappear after a good meal, then keep an eye on your dog for further symptoms. Excessive lip-smacking can be a sign of a more serious problem, and if it continues or other symptoms become apparent, it's best to consult your vet for a diagnosis. 

If your dog keeps smacking their lips together, then why not bookmark our guide for future reference?

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