Dogs do lots of things that their humans find interesting or funny.
This is the whole reason this website exists. It was started to share interesting facts about dogs and how they behave.
So in this post, we will answer the question, “why do dogs smack their lips when they are being petted?”
Why Dogs Smack Their Lips When You Pet Them
Dogs smack their lips when they are being petted because lip-smacking is a calming signal that helps the dog to calm down.
Lip-smacking is a self-soothing behavior that dogs often do either to relieve stress or to help them relax.
So, assuming your dog enjoys being petted, it is most likely licking and smacking its lips to further relax and enjoy the petting.
This behavior is similar to a human letting out a big sigh as they sit in a comfy chair.
Of course, if your dog shows any sign of discomfort or sickness (more on this further down), you should stop petting them and figure out what is wrong.
But generally speaking, if your dog seems happy and content and the lip-smacking occurs when they are enjoying the pets, it’s nothing to worry about.
You can just enjoy petting your dog and let them relax and enjoy it as well.
What is Dog Lick Smacking?
Canine lip-smacking is when the dog opens and closes its mouth so that its lips make a gentle smacking noise.
The dog might also lick their lips and nose at the same time. Here’s a great example of a dog lip-smacking and licking lips:
Other Reasons Why Dogs Smack Their Lips
Apart from being petted, there are some other reasons why dogs smack their lips. So it’s worth paying attention.
Does your dog only lick and smack their lips when you pet them or at other times?
Here’s a list of possible reasons for canine lip-smacking:
- Pain in the mouth and gums
- Attention seeking
- To relieve stress
- Underlying medical issues
Let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail to see if it applies to your dog.
Dogs often smack their lips when hungry, and sometimes this can be an attempt to let their owners know they want to be fed.
This should be easy to spot. If the behavior often occurs before meals and rarely afterward, it is likely the cause.
If your dog is thirsty, they might lip-smack to relieve the feeling of thirst.
Please always ensure your dog has access to plenty of clean, fresh water, and if their water consumption or thirst increases suddenly, you should take them to the vet.
Increased thirst can be a sign of underlying medical issues, so it’s best to ensure they are ok.
3. Pain in the Mouth and Gums
Your dog might smack and lick their lips to try and ease the pain inside their mouth.
You should regularly check your dog’s mouth, teeth, and gums and look for anything unusual.
4. Attention Seeking
Dogs are really smart. They learn how to manipulate us and grab our attention.
If your dog notices you reacting when they smack lips, they might repeat it to get your attention.
Or they might do it to try and encourage you to give them some petting.
5. To Relieve Stress
Lip-smacking is a calming signal that your dog can use to self-soothe during times of stress.
Always keep an eye on your dog’s stress level and do your best to help manage them.
If your dog feels sick and nauseous, it might smack its lips.
Keep an eye out for any signs of sickness or injury, and if you find any, it is usually best to take the dog to the vet for a check-up.
7. Underlying Medical Issues
Some medical problems could cause lip-smacking. If you are worried about this, please take your dog to the vet for a health check-up.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners who are in difficulty).
Should You Be Worried About Your Dog Smacking Its Lips When You Pet Them?
In most cases, if your dog smacks its lips when being petted or getting comfortable, there is nothing to worry about.
However, if your dog shows other signs of stress or ill-health, something could be wrong, and you need to take them to the vet and get them checked out.
Final Notes On Why Dogs Smack Their Lips When Being Petted
Dogs lip-smacking when dogs are being petted is perfectly normal and healthy behavior.
There is nothing to worry about, so just enjoy petting your dog and allowing them to be nice and comfortable.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!