Dog Smacking Lips: What’s Up With That?

We smack our lips when to express ourselves, whether it is showing disgust or annoyance or even enjoying our favorite food. In dogs, the scenario can be entirely different because smacking lips may be a sign of something more serious and sometimes life-threatening. 

Potential causes of your dog’s smacking lips

Normally a dog smacks his lips when his food is present. If a dog smacks his lips in anticipation of food or a treat, it would make him constantly smacking his lips absolutely normal.

However, if your dog’s smacking is constant or at a speed that is almost imperceptible and he is not hungry, then it may require your attention.

According to some veterinarians, if a dog is smacking his lips and it is not food-related, it could be an expression of anxiety or tension. However, if your dog is showing no other signs of anxiety or tension, it could mean a health problem that needs to be addressed.

1) Your Dog Might Have A Mouth Problem

The first step is to inspect the mouth of your dog; put on gloves and examine the mouth carefully. It is important to try to keep your dog calm so that he can allow you to have a proper look inside.

It can be something minor like a small object stuck in their mouth which you can try to remove from his mouth. However, if it looks like an injury that has become infected or if there is not a sign of anything wrong, you should schedule a veterinary appointment.

2) Your dog may be dehydrated

If your dog is smacking his lips constantly, he may be dehydrated; smacking his lips helps him wet his gums.  You should evaluate the hydration level of your dog; lift the skin from the shoulder blades and check the gums.

If the gums look shiny instantly your dog is hydrated but if the gums seem dull or tacky try to get your dog to drink more or check your dog into a veterinarian immediately.

3) Your Dog is Nauseous or Digestive Issues

You might check your dog for nausea or stomach pain because these could be the real culprit of lip-smacking. If you are able to take care of these issues or rule them out entirely, there are chances that the lip-smacking would go away.

4) Your Dog May Be Producing Excess Saliva

Another potential cause of your dog lip-smacking can be the excessive saliva due to stomach distention and nausea. The extra production of saliva causes your dog instinctively to lick his lips in order to cover the hypersalivation.

5) Your Dog Might Have Swallowed Something Toxic

Along with toxic substances, there are various deadly and toxic animal species, such as the cane toad, that could prove to be fatal for your dog. It is not necessary for your dog to swallow it; the licking of a poisonous animal or substance would be enough to endanger his life. Symptoms of poisoning could be: 

  • Excessively red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated temperature
  • Head shaking
  • Excess drooling 
  • Foaming at the mouth

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, it is recommended to wash your dog’s mouth thoroughly right away and seek medical help immediately. By paying attention to your dog’s symptoms, you can figure out the real cause of the lip-smacking. Through regular medical checkups and taking safety measures, you and your pet can avoid some unwanted situations.


Hello, I'm Shelly! I write about all things dogs. I'm a proud mother of 3. So I guess my official title is fulltime mother, part-time dog blogger. Look around and if you have any questions reach out to me