Why Would My Dog Be Restless and Licking Its Lips? (11 Possibilities)

I guess you are here because you have noticed that your pet has been smacking his lips continuously and can hardly stay still. Dogs are unpredictable creatures. Along with sniffing our… bottom and nibbling on our clothes, they do things that have us scratching our heads in wonder every once in a while.

A restless dog that keeps licking his lips can mean many things. For one, your dog could be nauseous and try to lap up the excess saliva in his mouth. This could also be a sign that your dog is having digestive issues or is bloated. In rarer cases, lip licking is a sign of obstructive compulsive disorder- yup, dogs have OCD too!

In any case, you don’t want to be bored by the medical implications of this behavior- you want answers to your questions. That’s why I and my trusted writer’s pen (well, writer’s keyboard) are here. We will discuss the possible causes, treatment options, and natural remedies for your fur bud’s unconventional actions below. Let’s get right into it!

11 Possible Reasons Your Dog Might Be Restless and Licking Their Lips

Your dog could be displaying such uncommon behavior because of numerous reasons. 


Typically, lip licking in dogs is a symptom of nausea. Along with this, you may observe restlessness, hypersalivation, swallowing, and eating grass. Dogs usually eat grass when they are trying to induce vomiting. Ingesting toxic materials, abdominal discomfort, motion sickness, pregnancy, worm infestation, and infections are common causes of nausea in dogs.

Dental disease 

Dental diseases like periodontal disease, tooth decay, stomatitis, gingivitis, salivary gland inflammation, sialadenitis, and many others can cause your dog to be restless and lick his lips constantly. These diseases are common in canine species with little to no dental care. To prevent this, take your pet for routine dental cleaning.

Anxiety or stress

A dog that feels threatened or nervous might lick his lips and nose to show that he means no harm and wants to avoid confrontation. In an anxious dog, you will not see this behavior in isolation. Other signs to look out for include panting, head shaking, tucking his tail between his legs, and hypersalivation.

Digestive issues

If your dog has swallowed a poisonous (e.g., toad) or an irritating object (part of a toy), you can expect him to have an upset stomach. When the stomach detects an irksome or toxic material, its protective nature stimulates nausea and vomiting. In such cases, you might notice hypersalivation and signs of abdominal discomfort. In response to this, your dog will lick his lips and be fidgety.


Dogs often smack their lips forcefully when they are dehydrated. This is commonly seen during the hot summer weather, after vigorous exercise, or a combination of both situations. The most common way to detect dehydration in dogs is by checking for loss of elasticity. 


Excess salivation can be a sign of a food allergy. Most of the time, food allergies in dogs are associated with protein sources. However, your dog might be allergic to any form of food. Seasonal allergies may also lead to an irritation of the nose and throat. Your dog may lick his nose and lips while trying to eliminate fiber, pollen, or other allergens in his airways.


This condition is seen mostly in large, deep-chested dog breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, Akitas, and Boxers. Bloat in dogs is more serious than the simple inconvenience seen in humans. Bloat in dogs involves gas, fluid, or food trapped in the stomach, causing an enlarged abdomen and other life-threatening symptoms. Such symptoms include twisting of the stomach (volvulus), a rapid heart rate, gagging, and others.

Partial seizures 

These are also known as focal seizures because they affect only one hemisphere of the brain. Immediately after a partial seizure, your dog may be fidgety and snap his lips constantly. Such seizures can last anywhere from seconds to minutes, but the symptoms can persist for many hours. Look out for difficulty walking and balance difficulty, dilated pupils, and biting at the air.

Mouth injury or inflammation

Hypersalivation could mean that your dog has an object stuck in its mouth. Objects like wood splinters, porcupine quills, fish hooks, rawhide, and others may be embedded in your dog’s mouth, causing more drool than normal hence, his lip licking.

Food Anticipation

Your dog could be jumping up and down while licking his lips because he smells, tastes, or even thinks about something tasty. This will stimulate his salivary glands and cause him to smack his lips in response to the excess salivation.

Underlying illness

Diseases like lip fold pyoderma, a skin infection, kidney disease, and canine cognitive dysfunction can cause your dog to lick his lips more frequently. Such cases are rare, but they may be seen. Restlessness and lip licking are also signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs. This can only be diagnosed by an animal behaviorist or veterinarian as it is difficult to spot.

When Should I Be Concerned About This Behavior in My Dog?

Lip licking is a normal behavior in dogs. It only becomes a bothersome behavior when your dog starts to smack his lips more than usual. Also, if this lip licking is accompanied by unusual signs like restlessness, drooling, pale gums, pawing at his mouth, and whimpering, it could be a pointer to an underlying illness. In such instances, you should be concerned.

Your dog’s lip-smacking could increase when there’s food around or when he feels anxious. During these times, lip-smacking is normal behavior, and you should not worry much about it. However, if his lip licking becomes an every-second affair, your dog might be trying to show that a dental issue or mouth injury is causing him pain.

Hypersalivation can be caused by many reasons. For example, your dog could have ingested a harmful item like algae or mushrooms, and the body could be trying to rid itself of the caustic agents. In such cases, you will notice increased drooling, restlessness, and lip licking.

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

In such cases, your first line of action should be to analyze the situation. If your dog’s lip-licking starts when he is meeting a new sibling or when you are feeding him a nice treat, it’s probably nothing to worry about. Inspect your dog’s mouth, teeth, gums, and tongue, and keep an eye out for subsequent symptoms. Place a call to your veterinary clinic if you are unsure of the cause of this behavior.

Since nausea is a common cause of lip-smacking in dogs, you should suspect this as the cause of your companion’s odd behavior. If this is the case, abstain from feeding your fur bud for at least 6 hours and use natural remedies like lavender oil and hemp supplements to calm the stomach and alleviate nausea. Ensure that he has a constant supply of drinking water during this time. If, after 6 hours, your little one is doing better, you should introduce a bland diet.

If your dog is showing other symptoms along with restlessness and lip-smacking, you should get him to the vet stat. It is best to play it safe and get your pet’s situation evaluated by the veterinarian. If your pet is vomiting or showing signs of pain, quick treatment is essential.


Though your dog’s lip licking and restlessness might be normal, it is best to consult a veterinarian. In cases where you are sure that this behavior is caused by stress and anxiety, remove your dog from such stressful conditions. In most cases, lip licking is a normal behavior in dogs.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of bulldogpapa.com. Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!