Ever notice your dog licking his lips and swallowing for no apparent reason? You’re not alone. Excessive lip licking and swallowing in dogs can be a bit strange and concerning when there doesn’t seem to be any obvious cause. As a dog owner, you know that some amount of lip-smacking is normal, especially when your pup is excited or anxious. 

But if you find your dog licking and swallowing repeatedly over a long period of time, it could signal an underlying health issue, like nausea, dental problems, or even gastrointestinal issues. The good news is there are some simple things you can do to determine the cause of your dog’s behavior and find a solution to put your mind at ease.

Common Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Licking His Lips and Swallowing

Your dog constantly licking his lips and swallowing can be a sign of nausea, anxiety, or medical issues. It’s possible your dog just ate something that didn’t agree with him and now has an upset stomach. Give him some time to settle down and avoid feeding him for a few hours. If he’s still licking and swallowing excessively after 12-24 hours, it’s best to have the vet examine him.

Common Reasons Why Your Dog

Anxiety and stress can also cause excessive lip licking and swallowing in dogs. If you’ve recently moved, changed routines, or left your dog alone for longer periods, this behavior may be due to anxiety. Be patient, give your dog extra love, and stick to normal feeding/walking schedules. Sometimes medication or training may help with severe anxiety.

Medical issues like acid reflux, oral infections, or gastrointestinal problems can lead to excessive lip smacking and swallowing as well. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, lethargy or diarrhea. It’s best to have your vet check your dog if symptoms persist for more than a day or two.

By understanding some of the possible reasons for your dog’s behavior and taking appropriate action, you can help ease their discomfort and put your mind at ease. Close observation of your dog and consulting your vet if symptoms worsen or persist are the best ways to determine the underlying cause and get your dog back to his usual happy, healthy self.

Medical Causes of Excessive Lip Licking and Swallowing in Dogs

If your dog seems overly fixated on licking his lips and swallowing, it could indicate an underlying medical issue.

Medical Causes

Gastrointestinal Problems

Excessive lip licking and swallowing can be a sign of nausea, acid reflux, or other tummy troubles. Things like eating too fast, ingesting toxins, or a food intolerance may be irritating your dog’s stomach. You may notice other symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. It’s a good idea to have your vet examine your dog and possibly run some tests to determine the cause of their gastrointestinal upset.

  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can cause nausea, pain, and lip smacking. Blood tests and ultrasounds can diagnose this serious condition.
  • Liver or Kidney Disease: Organ disease or failure may lead to nausea, vomiting, and excessive swallowing. Your vet can check your dog’s organ function with blood work and other diagnostics.

Mouth Pain

Does your dog have a sore in their mouth, tooth infection or other oral health issue? Excessive lip licking and swallowing can sometimes indicate mouth discomfort or pain. Have your vet examine your dog’s teeth and gums to check for any problems. They may need medication or a dental procedure to relieve their discomfort.

Providing your dog relief from any medical causes of their symptoms should help curb excessive lip licking and swallowing. Be sure to let your vet know about any behavior changes in your dog so the underlying cause can be properly diagnosed and treated. Your dog will be back to their usual happy, healthy self in no time!

How to Stop Your Dog From Constantly Licking His Lips and Swallowing

How to Stop Your Dog From Constantly Licking His Lips and Swallowing

If your dog is constantly licking his lips and swallowing, it could be a sign of nausea or anxiety.

Here are some tips to help reduce this behavior:

  • Provide your dog with interactive dog toys to keep them occupied when alone. Puzzle toys that dispense treats as they play can keep their mind off of feeling anxious.
  • Stick to a regular feeding schedule. Feed your dog at the same times every day so their stomach isn’t empty for long periods, which can lead to nausea and lip licking. Also, don’t give table scraps or change their diet suddenly, as this may upset their stomach.
  • Make sure they have access to fresh, clean water. Dehydration can also cause excessive lip licking and swallowing. Refill your dog’s water bowl daily and clean it regularly.
  • Give your dog natural calming aids. Things like a Thundershirt, anxiety medication from your vet, pheromone sprays, and calming music may help reduce anxiety and, thus, lip licking.
  • Provide plenty of exercise and play. Give your dog opportunities to get out excess energy, which can build up and manifest as anxiety. Take your dog for walks, play fetch, tug-of-war, or other interactive games.
  • Visit your vet if the problem persists or your dog shows other symptoms. While occasional lip licking and swallowing is normal, excessive amounts can indicate an underlying medical issue, and it’s best to get your dog checked out. Your vet may run some tests to determine the cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

By determining the underlying cause of your dog’s constant lip licking, whether behavioral or medical, you can take steps to remedy the situation and stop this habit. Be patient through the process, as it can take time and consistency. But with your help, your dog can overcome their excessive lip licking.


As with any behavioral issue, the key is to observe your pup and look for any patterns to determine the underlying cause. It’s usually an easy fix once you figure it out. If their behavior seems abnormal or is causing them distress, though, it’s best to have your vet examine them to rule out any medical issues. Otherwise, try making a few changes around the house to set them up for success. With time and consistency, your dog should get back to sticking their tongue out only when they’re panting or begging for treats!

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shreyasi datta
Meet Shreyasi with her 7-year experience as a responsible pet parent to a handsome Golden retriever, who she claims is the 'love of her life.' Found with her nose buried deep in research when she’s not discussing The Crown, you can trust her to answer your queries as a first-time pet parent! From possible signs of canine diseases to finding the best supplement for your fur baby, Shreyasi has an answer for all things dogs! Her dedication towards canine wellness, irrespective of the breed, is worthy of a PhD in Canine Companionship!

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