You may have not noticed this before, but for some reason, your dog keeps smacking his lips.
But you’ve also never really thought about it before: what’s causing this behavior?
There are many reasons that could get your dog to smack his lips excessively – some normal, but others could mean there might be an underlying condition in question.
Let’s look at the different scenarios that could be causing your dog’s excessive lip smacking…
Reasons Why Your Dog Is Smacking His Lips
You might notice your dog would start smacking his lips come his lunchtime.
This is normal – if there is food around, you’ve just showed him a yummy treat, or are even inside preparing his meal, you’re likely to hear him licking his lips.
This just means he’s hungry. He’s smacking his lips in anticipation of his meal!
Nausea makes dogs drool, so in turn they might start smacking their lips to try and get rid of that excessive saliva by swallowing it.
If you’ve ever seen your dog vomit yellow bile in the morning, you might have probably noticed it was preceded by him smacking his lips too much.
This usually happens when your dog has not had enough to eat the night before.
Nauseous dogs will also display other behavior such as eating grass if they are out or licking any surface available to them.
If your dog’s excessive smacking of the lips is caused by nausea, you’ll notice it should probably subside once your dog has vomited.
Dry mouths are uncomfortable for all of us, even your pooch!
If your pooch is not drinking enough water or is dehydrated for another reason, he might start smacking or licking his lips to wet his gums and mouth region.
Dogs can get easily dehydrated, especially if you live in really cool, really hot, or really dry weather conditions.
Other signs your dog is dehydrated also include dry and tacky gums, a loss of skin elasticity, and crusty scabs around his mouth.
Oral pain and discomfort will also lead to your dog excessively smacking his lips.
Periodontal diseases, objects stuck in your dog’s mouth, and salivary gland problems are examples of conditions that can contribute to that behavior.
A dog’s salivary glands – which are found under his tongue or along the jawline - can swell.
You can check for swelling in those locations. If they are swollen, this means fluid has accumulated in the surrounding tissues and resulted in sialocele.
This indicates that your dog’s normal flow of saliva has stopped as it is now pooled in the mouth.
Therefore, your dog will feel inclined to smack their lips in order to try and bring back the normal flow of saliva around his mouth.
A Calming Signal
By smacking his lips, your dog could also be displaying a calming signal!
Think of it this way: when we’re nervous, some of us might start biting our nails.
It’s the same thing for dogs, in this case.
Dogs will lick their lips as a pacifying behavior or as a sign of appeasement when they’re nervous, stressed, scared, or anxious.
The symptoms of a seizure include the involuntary movement of some parts of the body.
Your dog might be having a seizure that has abnormally activated the muscles controlling his tongue or even his lip muscles.
This, in turn, will cause him to start excessively smacking and licking his lips.
Sign of Pain or Discomfort
Lip smacking is one of the subtle signs your dog can use to express some pain or discomfort.
It might be difficult to identify exactly what the source of your dog’s pain is, so it is imperative to take him to the vet if this is what you suspect.
There are also a number of underlying health conditions that could trigger this pain or discomfort and in turn lead to your dog repeatedly smacking his lips.
These include liver and kidney diseases.
A bloat in dogs is when their stomach is enlarged due to the accumulation of gas, food, or fluid.
It is also one of the possible causes your dog is excessively smacking his lips.
Some of the other symptoms of a bloat include drooling, retching, and pacing nervously.
Bloats can be fatal to a dog, so don’t take it lightly if you suspect it and try and get your dog to the vet as soon as you can!
Cognitive issues cause changes in the nervous system’s neural network and can trigger abnormal behavior in dogs, which includes the repeated smacking of the lips.
Your dog might have also eaten something toxic or poisonous, which might lead to drooling, licking lips, and foam at the mouth.
The reasons why your dog might be smacking his lips range from normal and salvageable to dangerous and life-threatening.
Of course, it matters when you started noticing this behavior.
Does he do it in the middle of the night? Then he is probably hungry, nauseous, or dehydrated.
If you started noticing as he aged, then he might be developing a cognitive condition that is more common in senior dogs.
If you suspect the cause of your dog smacking his lips could be dangerous for him, make sure you take him to get checked up at the vet as soon as you can.