You might have a strong connection with your adorable pooch, but that doesn't mean that you can necessarily read his mind -- at least not 100 percent of the time. Although smacking of the mouth often is a sign of one hungry canine, it frequently can signify totally different things -- think nervousness and apprehension, for instance.
If lunchtime is just around the corner, you might notice your pet smacking his mouth in anticipation--just like Pavlov's famous pooches. Even if your fluff ball just enjoyed a tasty meal himself, he may start smacking his lips at the sight -- and smell -- of you tucking into a chicken parmigiana dinner at the table. Think of it like the automatic mouthwatering reaction you experience every time you saunter into your favorite neighborhood Italian bistro.
Feeling On Edge
Mouth smacking is sometimes an indication of nervousness in canines. If your pet feels uneasy, fearful and vulnerable, you might just see him sharply flipping his tongue in and out. If your poor doggie smacks his mouth upon hearing a loud thunderstorm, it means that he's terrified. He also might smack his mouth when in the presence of another canine who he considers to be menacing and more powerful as a means of reassuring the stronger party that he's not a danger to him. A standard trip to the vet's office could even encourage his lip smacking behavior to come out.
Keeping the Peace
Some dogs smack their mouths when they want all the individuals around them to relax. If a dog senses tension and strain in his environment, mouth smacking could be his way of being a peacemaker.
Not Feeling So Good
Mouth smacking is in many cases a sign of various health issues in canines. Since it frequently is a symptom, it is crucial to always be attentive to it. Lip smacking in dogs can indicate many ailments, including dehydration, dry mouth, kidney disease, consumption of toxic plants, liver disease, gingivitis and pre-seizures of epilepsy. If your dog's mouth smacking seems excessive and doesn't appear to be related to hunger or frustrating situations, immediate veterinary attention is extremely important. Just to play it safe, have a vet check out your dog's mouth smacking habit no matter what. Your sweet pet is worth the effort.
By Naomi Millburn
Animal Humane Society: When Good Play Goes Bad
The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health; Cynthia M. Kahn and Scott Line
What's Wrong With My Dog?; Jake Tedaldi
The Marin Humane Society: Calming Signals
ASPCA: Behavior Problems in Older Dogs
ASPCA: Adopting a Puppy Mill Dog
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.