If you’ve noticed your dog panting and licking its lips more frequently than usual, you may be wondering what could be causing this behavior.
Panting and lip licking in dogs are common behaviors that can be a normal reaction to certain stimuli, such as exercise or heat. However, it can also be a sign of something else.
Understanding the reasons behind these behaviors is important for every dog owner who wants to ensure their dog’s health.
Let’s delve into the reasons behind dog panting and licking of lips, what you can do to help your dog feel more comfortable as well as when to seek help.
Why is my dog panting and licking his lips
Dog panting and licking lips occur due to overheating, anxiety, illness, thirst, hunger and senior dog age-related issues. To determine the cause of your dog’s panting and licking of his lips, it’s important to pay attention to their current situation and surrounding environment to help you understand the cause of their behavior.
Causes of dog panting and licking lips
Overheating is a common cause of panting and lip licking in dogs. Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature and evaporate moisture from their tongues, which helps them cool down.
When a dog is overheated, they will pant more heavily and may also lick its lips in an effort to increase saliva production, which can help to cool the body.
Panting and lip licking due to overheating are most likely to occur on hot days or after physical activity.
When a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they may pant and lick its lips as a way to cope with the feelings of anxiety.
This behavior is often accompanied by other signs of anxiety, such as shaking, pacing, and hiding.
There are many things that can trigger anxiety in dogs, such as loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, changes in their environment, or being left alone for long periods of time.
Some dogs may also be prone to anxiety due to genetics or past experiences.
Panting and lip licking in dogs can also be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Some common medical conditions that may cause these behaviors include:
- Pain: If a dog is experiencing pain, it may pant and lick its lips as a way to cope with the discomfort.
- Infection: Dogs may pant and lick their lips if they are experiencing an infection, such as a urinary tract infection or a respiratory infection.
- Digestive problems: Panting and lip licking can also be a sign of digestive issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis.
- Cardiovascular issues: Dogs with heart or lung problems may pant and lick their lips due to an increased effort to breathe.
If a dog is dehydrated, it may pant and lick its lips in an attempt to stimulate the production of saliva.
Saliva helps to moisten the mouth and throat and can help to alleviate the feeling of dryness or thirst.
Dehydration can occur for a variety of reasons, such as not having access to enough water, losing fluids due to illness or diarrhea, or not drinking enough water due to loss of appetite.
Dogs that are dehydrated may also display other signs of thirst, such as panting more heavily, lethargy, and dry gums.
It is common for dogs to pant and lick their lips when they are hungry, particularly if they are anticipating a meal.
This behavior is often accompanied by other signs of hunger, such as pacing, begging, or trying to get the owner’s attention.
Senior dog age-related issues
As dogs get older, they may pant and lick their lips more frequently due to changes in their body’s ability to regulate temperature and other age-related factors.
Older dogs may have a harder time regulating their body temperature due to a decline in their metabolism and may pant more heavily as a result.
Older dogs may also pant and lick their lips due to other age-related issues, such as dental problems or changes in their sense of smell. Dental problems can cause pain and discomfort, which may lead to panting and lip licking.
Changes in a dog’s sense of smell can also cause it to pant and lick its lips more frequently, as it may be trying to get a better sense of its surroundings.
Dog licking lips and panting: What to do and when to seek help
Panting and licking of lips in dogs is common due to normal reasons such as excitement for food, or a way of cooling off in hot weather, which usually do not require medical attention.
Therefore, if your dog is panting and licking lips, do the following:
Observe your dog’s behavior
So, first, consider the context in which the panting and lip licking is occurring. Is it hot outside or has your dog been exercising? Is your dog displaying other signs of anxiety or discomfort? This can help you determine the cause of the behavior.
Pay attention to when your dog is showing the behavior and what other symptoms they may be experiencing. Take note of any triggers that seem to cause the behavior.
Make sure that your dog’s basic needs are met which includes ensuring they have enough food, and water.
- If you suspect that your dog is panting and licking its lips due to heat, provide access to plenty of fresh clean water, and offer them a cool place to rest, such as a shaded area or a room with air conditioning. Also, avoid taking your dog for long walks or strenuous exercise during the hottest parts of the day.
- If your dog is exhibiting the behavior due to anxiety or stress, provide them with a calm and safe environment.
- If your dog’s behavior is related to a specific trigger, such as car rides or loud noises, minimize their exposure to those triggers as much as possible. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if medication or behavior modification techniques are necessary.
Consult with your veterinarian
If you are unable to identify the potential cause of your dog’s panting and licking of lips or if the behavior persists, consult with your veterinarian. This is because the behavior can be due to an underlying health condition.
The veterinarian will conduct a full examination, determine the underlying cause and develop a more comprehensive plan to address your dog’s behavior.
If it is a behavioral problem, they will also guide you on ways to stop the behavior and may also recommend an animal behaviorist for training needs.
A veterinarian should also be consulted regarding your dog’s panting and licking of lips when:
The behavior is new or sudden: If your dog’s panting and licking lips is sudden or out of character, it could be a sign that there’s an underlying medical issue.
The behavior is accompanied by other signs of illness: If your dog is exhibiting other signs of illness or discomfort, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or changes in bowel or bladder habits, seek veterinary care.
The behavior is persistent: Also talk to your veterinarian if your dog keeps panting and licking lips continues despite your efforts to address the behavior.
Pre-existing medical conditions: If your dog has pre-existing medical conditions that could be causing the behavior, consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.
Key Takeaway: Dog panting and lip licking
Panting and lip licking in dogs can be a normal reaction to certain stimuli, such as heat or exercise. However, it can also be a sign of an underlying issue, such as anxiety or illness.
It is important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and consider the context in which they are occurring. This can help you determine the cause and take appropriate action to address the issue.
If your dog is panting and lip licking excessively or if you notice any other unusual symptoms or behaviors, consult with your veterinarian.