Your Dog Licks His Lips Excessively? What Is He Trying To Tell You?

"What's wrong with my baby? I found him licking his lips more and more frequently when he has food and water. He is not dehydrated, not drooling, not seizing nor is he suffering from diarrhea. I don't know why. Is it serious?" Perhaps this is the problem you're facing now.
Your dog might not have Kardashian lips, but when he constantly licks his lips, he is likely sending you a message. So what is he telling you when he often licks his lips? There is more to the story than meets the eye.

Lip licking in dogs

Lip licking in dogs is a quick or a tiny flick of the tongue over the lips or even over the nose. It is a type of dog communication. A dog who licks his lips a lot is using body language to tell you how he's feeling.

"Gimme food!"

"Gimme food!"

Just like us, a dog's mouth may water when he smells food, sees food or even thinks about food. You're likely to see your dog lick his lips in anticipation of food when you're preparing his meal or when you are tucking into a delicious steak dinner at table.
In case the lip licking is in anticipation for food, you do not have to worry. This will resolve with time.

“Gimme your attention!”

“Gimme your attention!”

In some cases, a dog keeps licking his lips to get your attention.
The dog has learned from his past experiences that attention will be given to him whenever he licks his lips. The lip licking behavior then gets reinforced and your pooch learns to use it to call for attention.
This is likely to happen in dogs who are socially deprived spending the majority of the day alone. Make sure that your dog has plenty of chewies and toys to play with before leaving him on his own. If you come back home to find your dog still licking, then tell him to stop or reprimand him. Some attention, even negative attention, is better than no attention at all.

“I am trying to calm myself down.”

“I am trying to calm myself down.”

If your pet feels stressed, terrified, nervous or uneasy, he will flip his tongue in and out repeatedly. This is known as a calming signal. It's similar to that fast, nervous lip-lick you may see from a celebrity when he's asked a difficult question by an entertainment reporter.
You'll likely see it if you scold your dog, after another dog growls at him or when he is taking a ride.
To stop his licking, look at the context and act accordingly.
The following are 4 severe causes of constant lip licking that your dog may want to tell you:

“I’m nauseous.”

“I’m nauseous.”

If a dog has an empty stomach for a long time or he ate something that is irritating the stomach lining, he will feel nauseous. The nausea triggers the overproduction of saliva and the dog will instinctively lick his lips to remove the excess saliva. He may eat grass to make himself vomit. Fortunately, if he vomits, most of the nausea and lip-licking will subside.

“I have bloat.”

“I have bloat.”

If your dog drools all the time, paces around uncomfortably, lick his lips excessively and retches many times, he should be taken to a vet immediately as these may be an indication of bloat. Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand. It can kill a dog if not treated in time.

“I’m suffering from oral discomfort.”

“I’m suffering from oral discomfort.”

One of the most obvious causes of excessive lip licking is that something is wrong in your dog's mouth, such as, tooth decay, gum disease and swollen salivary glands.

dog has something stuck in his mouth

If your dog has something stuck in his mouth, this also can cause lip licking, even if your dog’s teeth are in good condition.
If none of the above are causing the licking, inspect your dog’s mouth. If something (like your unmentionables, thorns, foxtail, bone fragments, etc.) is embedded inside, get rid of the object. If something is wrong with his mouth, contact your vet for treatment.

“I’m dealing with health problems.”

“I’m dealing with health problems.”

If a dog licks his lips excessively, he might be suffering from a serious illness. Dehydration, kidney disease, consumption of toxic substances, liver disease and partial seizures all could have excessive lip licking as one of the symptoms. If any of these is suspected, you should visit your vet immediately.

If you can’t find the exact cause that leads to excessive lip licking in your dog, don’t hesitate to visit the vet for a proper diagnosis.