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Why Do Dogs Lick the Air?

Have you ever seen your dog pause mid-walk to point their snout upward and lick the air? Do they ever take a quick lick at the air after a meal or treat? Or perhaps you found the ideal itch on your dog, who licked at the air as you scratched it.

If we just take the time to “listen” to the lick, dogs can express a variety of information that may appear odd, unusual, or even hilarious to humans.

Are Dogs Allowed to Lick the Air?

Dogs’ tendency to lick the air can be totally normal, even though we may not always comprehend what they are trying to tell us. The better query is if the licking warrants concern.

Dogs lick the air for a variety of reasons, including to improve their sense of smell for something they are interested in, to express nervousness, to soothe an upset stomach, etc. You shouldn’t be alarmed if you occasionally have brief episodes of air-licking, but you should keep an eye out for any increases in the duration or frequency of your licking.

Dogs lick the air, but why?

The list of potential therapies is extensive due to the multitude of diverse causes for why your dog may be licking the air. Working with your vet to identify the underlying reason of your dog’s air-licking will help you choose the most effective course of action, assuming that treatment is even required.

Here is a list of potential causes for your dog licking the sky.

1. Increasing Their Smell Sense

Due in part to the fact that human noses only have 5–6 million olfactory receptors as opposed to dogs’ 125–250 million, your dog has an olfactory sense that is 10,000–100,000 times more sensitive than your own.

The organ, also known as Jacobson’s organ, is a unique organ that contributes to this improved sense of smell. This structure is found in a dog’s nasal cavity and enters the mouth through the roof of the mouth, just below the front teeth.

Dogs open their organ to receive a better smell of their environment when they curl up their top lip and flare their nostrils. By licking the air, dogs can send even more smell-carrying molecules to the brain, increasing the amount of fragrance that reaches this delicate organ.

2. Stress or worry

There are several canine behaviors that signify submission or appeasement when a more dominant or aggressive dog approaches. One of the habits is licking.

Your dog will show you that they understand you are in charge if you notice them licking the air when you yell at them or fix your gaze on them. Avoid eye contact and speak in a hushed, high-pitched voice if your dog frequently licks the air when you approach. They can feel less anxious as a result and cease licking.

Increasing activity and using antianxiety vitamins or pharmaceuticals may be acceptable, depending on the source of stress or anxiety.

3. Dental illness and hurting teeth

Your dog’s bite pattern may change due to a loose or painful tooth, and they may appear to be licking the air in an effort to relocate the tooth or relieve the discomfort. At each annual checkup, inquire about your dog’s oral health.

Like us, dogs require professional cleanings of their teeth. Make an appointment for your dog to get a thorough oral examination by your veterinarian if they see any of the following in your dog: halitosis (poor breath), excessive drooling, difficulty picking up food, excessive lip-, tooth-, or air-licking.

4. Object in the Mouth: Foreign

Dogs who have food stuck between their teeth or on the roof of their mouths may act like they are licking the air, much like how you may use your tongue to remove a popcorn kernel from between your teeth. Before the licking stops, the object may need to be removed under anesthesia.

Check for any pieces of debris that may be lodged between your dog’s teeth or on the roof of their mouth if they suddenly lick the air while they are chewing on a stick or bone. Avoid letting your dog chew on objects that can break or splinter because doing so can lead to mouth injuries as well as potentially dangerous gastrointestinal problems that may require surgery.


There are many behavioral or physiological reasons why your dog might be licking the air, including hunger, stress, and tooth issues. Unless your dog begins acting in this way compulsively or your long-term canine friend begins acting in this way when they have never before, you usually don’t need to be concerned about this behavior.

Visit your veterinarian if you detect either of those two symptoms or if your dog’s air licking is followed by additional, graver indicators including lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive bad breath, or exhaustion. You aim to eliminate any significant medical conditions.

How to Stop Constant Licking

The underlying cause will determine how to prevent licking. Several possibilities are:

  • Reducing situations that lead to excessive tension and anxiety.
  • Feeding a premium diet designed to suit dietary requirements.
  • Providing a lot of sturdy, high-quality playthings and everyday workout opportunities.
  • Limiting exposure to rubbish and trash.
  • Following the advice of your veterinarian on annual exams and dental procedures.
  • Cleaning your dog’s teeth every day.

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