why does my dog smack her lips
These are only possible causes. Keep in mind that only a veterinarian can diagnose the problem with absolute certainty. Something Stuck in Your Dog's Mouth A good place to start is to carefully inspect your dog's mouth, if your dog allows it. Sometimes a piece of stick may be caught somewhere, there may be a bad tooth, or your dog may have gingivitis (a bacterial infection). Both can cause drooling and lip-smacking. If you're not comfortable inspecting your dog's mouth, see your vet. Nausea and Digestive Upset When the dog feels nauseous, he may drool and smack his lips as he gulps down saliva. If the dog is sent out, he'll often try to eat grass. If this is not possible, he may frantically lick other available surfaces, including carpets and walls. If he vomits, the nausea and lip-smacking will probably subside. If your dog seems to become nauseous at night, it may be that excessive bile is building up in his stomach. A late-evening snack can help prevent this condition. Discomfort or Pain In some cases, lip-smacking is a response to pain. Has your dog been limping recently? Does he have some sort of orthopedic disorder?
Does he yelp if you touch him in a certain area? It can quite difficult to pinpoint exactly where pain is located in a dog. Your vet may be able to figure it out. Dehydration and Dry Mouth When a dog is dehydrated, they may smack their lips to wet their gums. A good way to assess for dehydration is to lift the skin over the dog's shoulder blades and back. If it immediately springs back then your dog is still well hydrated. If there is a delay, check your dog's gums. If they are dry and tacky then your dog id dehydrated. Depending upon the severity of the problem, they will need to be hydrated either orally, subcutaneously, or intravenously. Nervous System Disorder or Seizure If your dog ingested something toxic, it may affect their nervous system. This can lead a dog to lick their lips excessively. For example, if a dog ingests any part of a poisonous toad, the dog may immediately start to drool, lick his lips, and foam at the mouth. In some cases, even exposure to bitter tasting substances can make a dog lick their lips over and over. Finally, some types of partial or simple seizures can lead a dog to excessive lip-licking.
Salivary Gland Problem A dog's salivary glands can swell, causing what is called a sialocele. When this happens, the saliva pools in the mouth and doesn't flow normally. It can cause the dog to lick their lips to move saliva around their mouth normally. Look under your dog's tongue where the salivary glands are located. If you see any swelling, see your vet. This condition can be resolved with a simple surgical drain.
Food is one of the most powerful motivators of dogs. When they smack their lips, we assume that it is simply a sign of hunger or anticipation of food. But when a dog is continually smacking his lips - unrelated to food, the smell of food, or even the thought of food - it is obviously the sign of something else. To find out what that something else is, examine your dog and ask a few questions, and you may be able to solve the problem. Your first step should be to put on a pair of rubber exam gloves and perform a thorough oral exam using the technique described in My Dog Is Drooling Excessively. Follow your oral exam with an assessment of your dog's recent dietary, urine, and bowel history.
Also check your dog for signs of dehydration. Grasp a handful of skin at the scruff of your dog's neck. Lift it up as far as it will stretch, then release it. A well-hydrated dog's skin will snap briskly back into place, while that of a dehydrated dog will return slowly to its original position, forming a tent in the process. If this test seems inconclusive, inspect his gums. Wet, slippery, reflective gums are healthy. Dull, sticky gums confirm dehydration. Once you have answered a few questions, you should be well on your way to explaining your dog's lip smacking behavior. Did your dog have any evidence of oral disease or infection? Gingivitis and oral infections are both possible reasons for lip smacking behavior. If your dog has signs of these, enlist the help of your veterinarian to get them under control and the lip smacking should end. If it doesn't, your vet may find some other reason for the behavior. Does your dog have a recent history of illness? Systemic illness, especially liver and kidney disease, can cause a dog to smack his lips. Your dog's vet can make these diagnoses by doing the appropriate blood testing.
You can resolve the lip smacking behavior by treating the illness that brought it on. Is your dog nauseated or in pain? If your physical exam indicated that your dog is either in pain or nauseated, there is a good chance that the nausea or pain is also the reason for the lip smacking. Once again, if you can resolve the nausea and pain, you will be likely to put an end to the lip smacking. Is your dog dehydrated? If you notice the tenting of your dog's skin, and/or if his gums are dull and tacky, you are likely dealing with dehydration. Since dehydration will often cause a dog to smack his lips repeatedly, correct the dehydration by giving fluids aggressively and you may correct the lip smacking. Simply administer fluids either orally, subcutaneously, or intravenously. The first method, orally, is one you can accomplish at home. The second method, subcutaneously, can also be accomplished at home, but you'll need to get the necessary equipment from a nurse, doctor, or veterinarian. The third method, intravenous hydration, should only be performed professionally, in a hospital setting.
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