Why Is Your Dog Licking Air?

Dog Lick Air - Feature Image

One of the ways that dogs use to communicate is body language. Some behaviors can be regarded as insignificant by many, but that is not always the case. There is usually a reason behind all the things dogs do. For instance, when a dog licks air, the owner should pay more attention.

In many instances, dogs licking the air is a sign of an underlying medical condition and thus, pet owners should consider a trip to the vet whenever they see their dogs licking the air.

Dogs licking the air usually stick their tongues out and may seem to sup an imaginary liquid. There are several reasons why dogs may exhibit this unusual behavior. This article examines seven possibilities.

7 Reasons That Cause Your Dog To Lick The Air

1. Boredom

Boredom is one of the reasons that cause a dog to lick the air. When people leave their dogs at home alone without toys to distract them, they usually find their entertainment. The dogs use the owners’ things to play with, which could be destructive.

The pet owners should ensure that they provide them with toys for their enjoyment, especially if they are playful little puppies. If the symptoms persist, it is best to seek the help of animals’ health professionals.

2. Stress Or Anxiety

Air licking also points to the fact that a dog is anxious. The challenge is to find out what is causing the dog to be uncomfortable. Several things cause anxiety in dogs, for example, loud noises, new pets in the home, guests, or moving to a new home. It is advisable to ensure that the situation is resolved.

Still, if air licking continues after all the problems that could irritate are sorted, there could be other health concerns. To avoid air licking developing into more severe behavior issues, the things which cause discomfort should be avoided around the animals.


3. Skin Itchiness

Dogs lick the air if their skin is itchy. Usually, dogs will lick their paws, but if they are punished for licking any of their body parts, they will turn to lick the air. Allergies could cause itchy skin to food or other things in the environment.

When dog owners notice their dogs constantly licking the air, they should consult a veterinarian for advice on medications that can clear the allergies. The dog behavior could be flehmen response if it has smelled strange odors like blood, urine, or feces.

Air Licking Behavior

4. Foreign Body Obstruction In The Mouth

It happens even in humans; after taking something like a peanut butter sandwich, it tends to stick at the top of the mouth. To get it off, one has to make use of some tongue acrobatics. The same thing happens to dogs. When they have something stuck up in their mouths, they do not have fingers to remove it; they use their tongues.

If food items stuck up in the dog’s teeth is what is causing the excessive licking, it will not last for long. Sometimes, the dog may have bits of the toy fragments it was playing with, stuck between its jaws.

The owner should examine the dog’s mouth to find out the issue. If it is something stuck in the teeth like sticks or dental disease that they cannot handle, they should take the pet to a vet to seek help.

5. A Sign Of Seizure

Dogs can have gran mal seizures, which are frightening episodes in which a dog loses control of its body and starts to convulse, foams at the mouth, and rows its legs slowly. However, there are other seizures that are hard to detect since they are less conspicuous. These types of seizures are known as partial seizures.

When a dog is having partial seizures, it manifests according to the brain’s part being affected. A partial seizure could cause a dog to start air licking or to bite. The dog licking the air could have severe medical issues that require treatment if the partial seizures recur.

Take a video of the dog licking the air and any other unusual behavior and show a veterinary doctor for a diagnosis.

6. Suffering From Gastrointestinal Disorder

Excessive licking is usually a sign that a dog is having stomach issues. The dog’s digestive system is disrupted by gastrointestinal disorders such as acute pancreatitis. Dogs cannot complain about pain; therefore, the dog keeper can miss the signs.

Studies have revealed that more than 60% of dogs that show the symptom of excessive licking usually has an underlying gastrointestinal issue. [1]

Dogs might lick air to cope with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which are considered symptoms of gastrointestinal problems. Other symptoms include the area around the dog’s abdomen becoming extra sensitive, and it loses its appetite.

Make changes to your dog’s diet for sensitive stomachs. Severe pancreatitis and gi disorders can lead to more problems if they are not treated by a vet.

7. Has Compulsive Disorder

Dogs licking air is usually a sign of stress. By engaging in air licking, the dog stimulates its brain to release endorphins that have a soothing effect. As a result, the dog may lick the air every time it feels anxious or stressed. The habit of the pup licking the air may continue for longer every day. When this happens, it could have developed into a compulsive disorder.

The best way to deal with compulsive disorder is to diagnose it early. In the initial stages, air licking only happens when the dog makes an attempt to deal with stress. For example, when people around the pup become extra loud or when they have guests over, air licking may be observed.

However, over time the puppy exhibits this compulsive disorder more such that behavior that started as a response to stress develops into a problem that could be alarming. Seek the advice of an animal behaviorist or vet to help identify the causes of the problem.

Disordered Behavior And Movements


What Should You Do When Your Dog Is Licking The Air?

The first thing a pet keeper should do when their dog licks the air is to ask themselves the following question – Why do dogs lick the air repeatedly? Then rule out each possibility one by one. To determine whether the dog is stressed, answer the following questions:

  • Does the dog have a reason to be anxious?
  • Did its routine change?
  • Was its discipline routine changed?
  • Is it under different training methods?
  • Has another pet or family member moved away recently?

If stress is what causes the dog’s issues, the questions above could guide one diagnosis of the problem. Stress in pets can be dealt with by managing the environment around them better.

If the air licking behavior persists, it would be best to start recording what happens around the dog. The recording could be video, a journal, or both. The records should include:

  • The location of the pet
  • The people around it
  • The noise levels and their response to it
  • How long the air licking behavior lasts

With this information, all disorders are captured, so when the dog is taken to a veterinarian, it is easy to get to the bottom of the situation. It is advisable to immediately seek a vet’s attention if it is a gi problem, canine cognitive dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, or sudden weight loss.

Changes In Diet And Activity Behavior

Tips To Preventing Your Dog From Licking The Air

To prevent dogs from licking the air, use the answers to the question – why does dog lick the air? Here are some tips for pet parents:

  • The dog should be provided with objects to play. The toy should be something that cannot fit in the dog’s mouth.
  • The pet parent should identify foods it is allergic to and take care of its surface cleanliness to avoid fleas, which could irritate.
  • The dog’s teeth and gums should be carefully examined for abnormalities. In the case of dental disease, a vet should be consulted for proper treatment.
  • The dog should be taken for frequent examination at the vet who should do blood testing to check for any unseen infections.
  • The pet parent should be attentive to the dog to prevent behavioral air licking. For example, taking the pet for a walk will make it feel more loved and help it exercise.

When To Take Dog To The Vet


Frequently Asked Questions

Why do dogs lick the air when you pet them?

Dogs lick the air when you pet them as a reaction because you might be touching places they cannot reach. The dog might also lick its lips to acknowledge the soothing sensation and relief from a pain they could have been feeling.

Does licking calm dogs down?

Yes, licking calms dogs down as it stimulates the brain to produce a brain-soothing chemical. But, if the licking behavior is more frequent, it could be a sign of a disease that requires medication; hence a vet should be contacted.

What your dog is trying to warn about when they lick their paws?

When the dog licks its paws, it is telling the parent that its environment is dull. This behavior could be because it does not have anything to play with. If the problem is not taken care of, it could cause the puppy to develop obsessive-compulsive behaviors. The pet parent should get the puppy other pets to play.


Licking air should not be anything alarming if it does not happen regularly. The dog might lick its lips or the air from time to time as a way of relaxing. The parent and the pet could be close friends, and it might want to show affection with kisses or licking the parent’s face. However, if the behavior becomes abnormal and the parent has no idea how to deal with it, they should talk to a veterinarian.