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Why Do Canines Smack Their Lips?

  • Not an alternative choice to skilled veterinary assist.

Should you’re a canine mother or father, you’ve certainly observed your pup has some peculiar habits! One in every of these is licking and smacking their lips. However simply why do canines smack their lips?

We spoke with nationally acknowledged skilled Dr. Jamie Whittenburg (DVM), veterinarian director at Senior Tail Waggers, to assist us unravel this curious canine behavior. She defined that usually canines smack their lips due to nausea, dental, or oral points. That’s as a result of when a canine is nauseated, whatever the cause, they may generally hypersalivate and smack their lips. Contaminated enamel, gingivitis, ulcerations, accidents, and much or international materials within the mouth are additionally frequent causes of lip smacking.

Beneath, we discover in additional depth 9 of the commonest causes for lip smacking in canines.

1. Your Canine Is Prepared To Eat Or Simply Ate

Is your canine hungry? Your canine is likely to be licking or smacking their lips in anticipation. However why? Canines produce extra saliva when anticipating meals, and licking or smacking their lips will assist do away with the extreme drool earlier than they begin to chow down. This will likely additionally final a short time after they’ve completed consuming.

Actually, the well-known Pavlov’s canines examine demonstrates that canines are conditioned to salivate when there’s any indication meals is coming—not simply when their meals is put in entrance of them, however once they hear you open the cabinet their meals is in or tear the wrapper on a deal with packet!

Two hungry dogs licking their lips and ready to eat


2. Your Canine Is Feeling Nauseous

When canines are sick and about to vomit, they produce further saliva that lubricates their mouth and throat in preparation. This implies your canine may smack their lips to regulate the surplus saliva being produced.

There are a lot of causes your canine may vomit, and a few are extra critical than others. These can embody:

When you don’t all the time must take your canine to the vet in the event that they’re throwing up, you must search for indicators that it’s extra critical. For instance, in case your canine has been sick for greater than 24 hours, is torpid/very sleepy, has blood spots of their vomit, is disorientated, or has different related medical situations, then contact your vet immediately.

3. Your Canine Has One thing Caught In Their Mouth

Your canine is likely to be excessively drooling and smacking their lips as a result of they’ve one thing caught of their mouth. This further drool is to assist lubricate the mouth to keep away from harm and assist flush the international object out.

Frequent issues that might get caught in your canines mouth are:

  • Sticks/items of damaged stick
  • Toys they’ve chewed up
  • Bone shards

So, do you have to take away one thing out of your canine’s mouth that’s caught? No. If there’s one thing caught in your canine’s throat, take them to a vet instantly.

A dog carrying a stick in their mouth


4. Your Canine Is Sick

There are additionally varied well being situations that might induce lip smacking. These can embody:

  • Kidney illness. You may see lip smacking in canines with kidney illness, as it will possibly trigger nausea, dehydration, and oral ulcers that trigger extra or thickened saliva.
  • Liver illness. Equally, liver illness may cause nausea and dehydration, resulting in extra or thickened saliva and lip smacking. Dr. Whittenburg defined that when toxins will not be filtered and accumulate within the blood, this will result in nausea and lip smacking too.
  • Nervous system illness. In case your canine has a nervous system illness, they might lick to appease themselves. That’s as a result of the act of licking really releases endorphins, making your canine really feel higher. Whereas nervous system illness is a broad time period, Dr. Whittenburg talked about that points with the nervous system can usually lead to irregular actions, together with lip smacking.
  • Seizures. Lip smacking in canines is usually a signal of partial seizures affecting solely small components of the mind. Different seizure indicators embody biting on the air, repeatedly kicking out one leg, or different sporadic actions particular to only one a part of the physique.
  • Orthopedic illness. Although unusual, in case your canine is in ache, they may develop a lip smacking behavior to appease themselves. Maybe your canine limps or yelps once you contact them in a sure place? Then they may have ache of their bones or joints and in search of a bit of aid.

Should you suspect any of those illnesses in your canine, please take them to the vet. They’ll assess the issue and supply any obligatory remedy.

5. Your Canine Has Mouth Ache

When your canine has mouth ache, they normally produce extra saliva, resulting in lip smacking. It’s because saliva has therapeutic properties and is used to maintain the mouth lubricated and extra snug when one thing is sore. There are a lot of causes your canine might have ache of their mouth. Nevertheless, it’s most frequently because of poor dental well being. Moreover, your canine may need a damaged tooth, gum illness, an abscess, and even jaw most cancers.

Nevertheless, some canines are simply extra vulnerable to getting dental issues that trigger lip smacking than others. And if in case you have one among these breeds, it’s further vital to maintain on high of your canine’s oral hygiene!

  • Brachycephalic breeds. These canines have small squashed noses that make them vulnerable to gum illness. That’s as a result of these canines can undergo from overcrowding of their small mouths, trapping meals and inflicting a buildup of micro organism. Pugs, Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs are all examples of brachycephalic breeds.
  • Bigger breeds. Huge canine? Huge gums! Bigger canines like Nice Danes, Boxers, and Mastiffs are additionally vulnerable to overgrown gums. That is known as gingival hyperplasia and occurs when there’s an extreme buildup of plaque.
  • Dachshunds. These lengthy however quick canines even have a protracted however small snout! That makes them extra more likely to develop periodontal pockets, the place the gum tissue breaks away from the tooth resulting in decay.

One of the simplest ways to forestall dental issues in your canine is with common tooth brushing. However should you’re apprehensive about any issues your canine already has, you should definitely take them to the vet for a dental checkup. Identical to in people, common dental appointments are vital in canines. Your vet may also give you the option that can assist you out with the precise dental merchandise to make use of on your canine. No human toothpaste allowed!

A close up of a dog's lips and teeth


What about lip smacking if my pet is teething?

In case you have a teething pet, their gums will probably be sore and tender. So they may smack and lick their lips to assist relieve a few of that ache. Puppies usually start teething at 5 to six weeks outdated. After which at round 12 to 16 weeks, their child enamel will begin to fall out to make room for the grownup ones. By eight months outdated, these grownup enamel must be absolutely grown.

Nevertheless, take into account that in case your pet has developed a lip smacking behavior, the trigger might go deeper than teething.

Dr. Whittenburg factors out that whereas there’s a particular improve in chewing habits and general mouth play in teething puppies, lip smacking in a younger pet shouldn’t be ignored. Puppies are at excessive threat for parvovirus, in addition to obstructions from ingesting international materials. And these maladies have to be recognized and handled quickly to keep away from turning into deadly.

6. Your Canine Desires Consideration

Canines love getting consideration from their favourite particular person. And so they’ll do absolutely anything to get it! In case your canine notices you give them consideration or meals once they smack their lips, they’ll study it as a habits.

Different issues your canine may do to get your consideration are leaping up, pawing, barking, dropping issues in entrance of you, nipping at you, or stealing issues to make you chase them. You may prepare your canine to keep away from these behaviors by rewarding good behaviors like being calm and sitting properly.

7. Your Canine Has A Salivary Gland Drawback

Canines may also smack and lick their lips with sure salivary gland problems, together with:

  • Sialadenosis. A uncommon illness the place the salivary glands grow to be enlarged. Different signs can embody gulping, retching, vomiting, snorting, melancholy, lack of urge for food, and weight reduction.
  • Neoplasias. A situation that nearly solely impacts older canines. Oral neoplasias are invasive tumors within the glandular tissue that develop quickly. Different signs can embody problem consuming, bleeding from the mouth/nostril, swelling, sudden weight change, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Mucoceles. Salivary mucoceles are the place there’s a build-up of saliva in subcutaneous tissues when the salivary glands have been broken. Different signs can embody swelling, ache, bleeding, respiratory misery, and light-weight brown/bloody saliva.
A black and white dog licking and smacking their lips

iStock/Mary Swift

8. Your Canine Has Dry Mouth Or Is Dehydrated

When your canine is dehydrated or has dry mouth their saliva will thicken as a result of lack of liquid. This may be uncomfortable on your canine and trigger them to smack or lip their lips extra usually.

Indicators your canine has dry mouth can embody:

  • Extreme panting
  • Dry eyes, nostril, and/or gums
  • Lethargy/low power
  • Decreased or lack of urge for food
  • Gradual response time
  • Dry, sunken eyes
  • Much less frequent urination
  • Darkish urine colour
  • Normal weak point, particularly when making an attempt to stroll
  • Loss in pores and skin elasticity

9. Your Canine Is Confused Or Anxious

Canines can smack or lick their lips as a result of they’re experiencing nervousness. That’s as a result of in canines, licking produces endorphins creating a relaxing impact. Different self-soothing behaviors (also called calming alerts) that canines can show embody:

  • Head turning. Your canine may flip their head backward and forward or maintain it in a single course. This will additionally sign to approaching canines to settle down, or present that they’re uncomfortable with a scenario.
  • “Softening” the eyes. Canines make their eyes look extra pleasant to indicate they aren’t threatening.
  • Physique turning. When enjoying, canines might flip their facet or backs to you or different canines to settle down or take a fast breather. They might additionally do that when somebody or a canine acts aggressively towards them.
  • Freezing. Canines might sit or stand fully nonetheless to diffuse a scenario or present an absence of risk.
  • Yawning. This may appear to be an odd one! However canines additionally yawn in uncomfortable conditions—on the vet’s surgical procedure as an illustration—to assist really feel much less careworn.
A vet looking at a dog's mouth and lips


When To See A Vet For Lip Smacking

As we’ve mentioned above, a few of the causes on your canine’s lip smacking may be extra critical than others. And typically you may must ebook in to see your regular vet or an emergency vet ASAP. Dr. Whittenburg says a few of the common signs indicating a extra major problem embody:

  • Speedy weight reduction
  • Lethargy
  • Nasal discharge
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Irregular lip smacking for greater than 24 hours
  • Respiration difficulties or elevated respiratory effort at relaxation
  • Foul scent coming from the mouth
  • Reluctance to eat for greater than 24 hours
  • Displaying indicators of ache of their mouth or stomach
  • Pawing on the mouth or an object or mass is seen within the mouth

In these instances, Dr. Whittenburg advises you to see a vet pronto. But when your canine doesn’t have these signs and also you’re nonetheless involved, the vet is all the time there to assist. In any case, it’s higher to be protected than sorry the place your canine is worried!

Rafael Gomes de Azevedo
Rafael Gomes de Azevedo
He started his career as a columnist, contributing to the staff of a local blog. His articles with amusing views on everyday situations in the news soon became one of the main features of the current editions of the blog. For the divergences of thought about which direction the blog would follow. He left and founded three other great journalistic blogs,, and With a certain passion for writing, holder of a versatile talent, in addition to coordinating, directing, he writes fantastic scripts quickly, he likes to say that he writes for a select group of enthusiasts in love with serious and true writing.


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