Dog Licking Lips and Sneezing? Top 12 Reasons!

As pet parents, we are constantly observing every move our dogs make. Therefore, it is safe to say that we are well-familiar with their routines and habits. When our dogs start showing something new, we are obviously concerned. For example, many dog owners wonder why their pets are lip-licking and sneezing all of a sudden. 

So, dog licking lips and sneezing, what does it mean? A dog exhibiting this combination can mean a lot of things – starting from normal dog behavior to stress and compulsive issues to nasal mites, foreign bodies, and tumors. Finding the underlying reason requires veterinary help, and it is highly advisable to contact your vet as soon as you notice your dog is frequently licking its lips and sneezing. 

In this article, we will talk about dogs licking lips and sneezing. We will cover the most common reasons and give hints on when it is time to take the problem to the next level and see the vet. Finally, we will provide helpful tips on how to manage the issue. 

What Does It Mean when A Dog Keeps Licking His Lips and Sneezing?

Well, there are many reasons dogs can lick their lips and sneeze. Some are normal, and others are considered medical issues. Furthermore, the group of medical problems can be classified into two categories – behavioral issues and physical issues. Let’s take a closer look at the different reasons. 

Reason Number 1: Normal Dog Behavior

Okay, sometimes we all feel the need to lip our licks or sneeze frequently. Dogs are no different. Usually, the increased frequency of this combination is due to dry air. However, it can also be completely normal behavior. Just monitor your dog to see how often it occurs and whether there is a reason for concern. 

Reason Number 2: Stress and Anxiety

Lip licking is one of the telltale signs of stress and anxiety in dogs. The other sign, licking, can also be linked with states of distress. Namely, anxious dogs tend to hyperventilate, resulting in more air and tiny particles entering the nose. If those particles are irritating, it will make the dog sneeze. 

Reason Number 3: Compulsive disorders 

Compulsive disorders are not uncommon in dogs. As a result of such issues, dogs tend to lick their lips obsessively. The licking temporarily makes the muzzle wet, but in the long run, it contributes to drier skin and mucosa. The drying is irritating and often triggers sneezing bout. A dog with a compulsive disorder will show additional behavioral issues. 

Reason Number 4: Traumatic Injuries 

Traumatic injuries like cuts and scrapes in the nose to mouth area are accompanied by discomfort, lip licking, and sneezing. Always check your dog for obvious signs of such injuries before ringing the alarm. 

Reason Number 5: Insect Stings and Bites 

Dogs are curious creatures, and that often makes them victims of insect stings and bites. If the sting or bite is located on the muzzle area, the local irritation is likely to trigger both increased lip licking and frequent sneezing. A dog with insect bites and stings may require urgent veterinary attention due to the high risk of allergic reactions. 

Reason Number 6: Dental Issues 

It may seem unusual to mention dental issues on the list. However, the anatomy of the dog’s mouth and nose holds the explanation. The teeth roots of the upper jaw are closely related to the nasal cavity. Therefore, any teeth problems can cause sneezing. The lip-licking part is expected in dogs with dental issues. 

Reason Number 7: Allergies and Irritants 

Allergies are particularly common in dogs. Inhalant allergies can often trigger both lip licking and sneezing. Dogs are sensitive to various allergens such as grasses, pollen, molds, dust mites, human dander, etc. Limiting the dog’s exposure to these allergens can be tricky. 

Reason Number 8: Nasal Infections  

Dogs are prone to three types of nasal infections – bacterial, fungal, and parasitic. In all cases, the clinical manifestation is similar and includes nasal discharge, sneezing, increased lip, and nose licking, and snoring sound while breathing. Luckily, more often than not, nasal infections in dogs are easily manageable using prescription meds from the vet. 

Reason Number 9: Nasal Parasites 

A dog can get nasal parasites (mites) after direct nose-to-nose contact with infected pets. The mere presence of the nasal mites is irritating and often results in sneezing, lip licking, nasal discharge, and in some cases, even nose bleeds. Luckily, nasal mites are not particularly common among dogs, and they cannot be transmitted to the owners. 

Reason Number 10: Foreign Bodies 

A dog with a foreign body in the nose will be sneezing all the time as the physical presence of the item (the most common foreign bodies are foxtails and grass materials) is irritating. The lip-licking is expected, too – it is the result of the dog’s unsuccessful attempts to get rid of the foreign body. 

Reason Number 11: Nasal Tumors

The concept behind nasal tumors is similar to that of foreign bodies. After all, the tumor is a type of foreign body. Its presence is irritating, causing sneezing, and the dog’s attempts to remove the issue cause lip licking. Nasal tumors are severe issues, thus warranting prompt and adequate veterinary management. 

Reason Number 12: Partial (Focal) Seizures

Dogs experiencing partial or focal seizures remain conscious while exhibiting unusual and repetitive behaviors – paddling, blinking, and tremors limited to certain parts of the body. Although rare, for some dogs, it is possible to lick their lips and sneeze during such seizure activities. Seizures in dogs are a serious issue and usually require a multimodal management approach. 

What Do I Do if My Dog Is Licking His Lips and Sneezing?

If your dog is licking its lips and sneezing more than usual, you need to monitor the situation. First, you should observe the circumstances in which the issue occurs:

  • Is there something specific about the environment at that moment
  • What is your dog doing before it starts lip licking and sneezing
  • Does it act normally after the episode 
  • Are the episodes random or occur in particular parts of the day. 

The more information you gather, the easier it will be to determine the culprit once you go to the vet’s office. Alternatively, if, in addition to the lip licking and sneezing, your dog is showing additional worrisome signs and symptoms, you need to skip the monitoring part and seek veterinary help immediately. 

What happens next depends on the dog’s underlying issue. If dealing with a physical problem, the vet will craft a treatment strategy. On the other hand, if everything is physically alright, the veterinarian will recommend seeing a licensed canine behaviorist check whether there is a behavioral problem. 

Summing Up: Dog Licking Lips and Sneezing 

All in all, a dog licking its lips and sneezing can be something as minor as an insect bite or something as serious as nasal tumors. Sometimes, the behavior can also be completely normal and the result of dogs being dogs (and doing weird stuff just because they can). 

Whenever your dog starts showing unusual behaviors, the general rule of thumb is to seek veterinary help. Depending on the circumstances and the dog’s overall health, you can either call for help immediately or observe your dog before making a vet visit. 

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