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Do you ever hear your dog smack their lips in the middle of the night and wonder what in the world they are doing? Well, you’re not alone. Many dog owners have wondered about this behavior, known as “lip smacking.”
In this article, we will discuss 13 reasons why dogs do this, when you should be concerned, and provide some tips on preventing it.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
What Is Dog Lip Smacking?
First, let’s cover what exactly lip-smacking is.
Lip-smacking is a repetitive movement that dogs do with their mouths where they open and close their lips. It often looks like they are trying to lick something off their lips or as if they are tasting something good.
You might hear the occasional smack of the lips or licking sound when they use their tongue to lick their lips or sometimes their nose.
It’s basically a type of licking, usually seen when dogs are about to get some food, but it can occur for other reasons.
So, why do dogs lip-smack at night?
Dog Smacking Lips In Middle Of Night: Why Does This Happen?
There are several reasons your dog might be smacking their lips in the middle of the night.
The most common reasons that cause a dog to smack their lips at night are dreams, anxiety, hunger, nausea, pain, dehydration, dental issues, or other health problems. However, dogs may smack their lips for either of these reasons or a combination.
Let’s take a closer look at the 13 main reasons a dog will smack their lips at night.
13 Reasons Why Dogs Smack Their Lips At Night
#1 Dental Issue
Your dog may be smacking their lips at night because of a dental issue. For example, if they are experiencing pain in their mouth, they may smack their lips to try to soothe it.
If you think this might be the case, look inside your dog’s mouth to see if there are any visible signs of a dental problem, such as gum disease, a cracked tooth, or something caught in their teeth.
If you don’t see anything obvious, it’s best to take them to the vet for an examination. They will be able to determine if there is a dental issue causing your dog to smack their lips at night.
Some possible dental conditions a dog can experience to cause them to smack their lips at night are:
This common dental issue in dogs is caused by plaque and tartar build-up on the teeth. It can cause inflammation of the gums and lead to pain. This will cause a dog’s gums to be red and swollen where the gums meet their teeth.
This is an inflammation of a dog’s mouth that can be caused by infections, allergies, foreign bodies, or trauma. As a result, the mucous membranes in a dog’s mouth swell, and It can cause a lot of pain and make it difficult for a dog to eat.
You would notice this by checking your dog’s gums. You might see sores, swollen gums, or sores on their inner lips.
This condition causes saliva to build up in a dog’s salivary gland. It can be caused by an infection, injury, or tumor. For example, if a dog has sialocele, they may smack their lips to try to move the saliva around and reduce drooling.
A dog’s saliva glands are located right under their tongue, so you can lift up their tongue to check if there are swollen lumps.
Xerostomia is a condition that causes dry mouth in dogs. It can be caused by medications, cancer, diabetes, or an autoimmune disease. A dog with xerostomia may smack their lips as a way to try to stimulate saliva production.
This is more common in older dogs or dogs undergoing treatment for diseases like cancer.
Tumors in a dog’s mouth can also cause them to smack their lips at night. These tumors can be benign or cancerous and can cause a lot of pain. They may also make it difficult for a dog to eat or drink.
If you notice your dog has a lump in their mouth, it’s best to take them to the vet for an examination.
This is a more serious form of gum disease that can damage the bones and tissues around the teeth. If your dog has periodontal disease, they may smack their lips as a way to try to relieve the pain.
You can tell a dog may have periodontal disease if their gums are red, swollen, and bleeding. You might also see pus coming from their gums or notice their teeth loose.
Mouth trauma is another reason a dog may smack their lips at night. This can be caused by a fall, fight, etc. If your dog has mouth trauma, they may have cuts or bruises in their mouth that are causing them pain.
As you can see, there are a variety of dental issues that can cause a dog to smack their lips at night. If you think your dog may have a dental issue, it’s best to take them to the vet for an examination.
The vet will be able to determine if there is a problem and provide treatment if necessary.
Smacking lips usually comes from the anticipation of food. This is because when dogs smell food, their mouth begins to salivate in preparation for eating.
You can tell if this is the case by keeping track of how much food your dog is eating during the day.
If you notice they are not eating as much as they normally do, they may be smacking their lips at night because they are hungry.
Some dogs may even do this regardless of eating enough throughout the day. So, if your dog is always smacking their lips at night, talk to your vet about their diet.
If you think your dog is hungry, you can try feeding them a small meal before bedtime or giving them a treat.
Doggy dreams are another common reason why dogs smack their lips at night. When dogs dream, they can dream about food, which may trigger brain activity similar to when awake and anticipating food.
So their dream could cause them to drool and smack their lips. Observing your dog’s sleeping habits can tell if this is the case. They may be dreaming if they are constantly moving or twitching in their sleep.
Dehydration can also cause dogs to smack their lips at night. When a dog is dehydrated, their body does not have enough water to function correctly. This can cause their mouth to feel dry, and they may smack their lips as a way to try to stimulate saliva production.
Dehydration can be caused by various things, including diarrhea, vomiting, heat stroke, etc. So if you notice your dog is drinking less water than usual or has been sick recently, they may be dehydrated.
This is a serious concern as hydration is crucial for a dog’s health and wellbeing.
Some big signs that a dog is dehydrated are sunken eyes, dry gums, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If you notice any of these signs or your dog is not drinking water, you must take your dog to the vet immediately.
Dehydration can be prevented by ensuring your dog has access to fresh water and is not sick or overheated. You can also try giving your dog ice cubes if they are not feeling great and don’t want to drink from their bowl.
Sometimes, smacking their lips may just be a habit for your dog. For example, their behavior doesn’t seem to be related to other reasons on this list; it may just be something they do.
It’s likely if your dog has a habit, they would also be doing this during the day. However, they might have just developed the habit of smacking their lips at night.
Habits can be difficult to break, but if you are concerned about your dog smacking their lips all the time, you can talk to your vet about it. They may have suggestions on how to break the habit or what could be causing it.
#6 Cognitive Dysfunction
Cognitive dysfunction is a condition that can occur in older dogs and is similar to dementia in humans.
One of the symptoms of this condition is smacking their lips at night.
This is because as cognitive function declines, dogs may have trouble controlling their saliva production, which can lead to them smacking their lips.
Other symptoms of cognitive dysfunction include disorientation, sleep changes, confusion, and changes in behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s best to talk to your vet about it, as there are treatments that can help.
Cognitive dysfunction is a progressive condition, so the sooner you catch it and start treatment, the better.
#7 Something Stuck In Their Mouth
Sometimes, dogs will smack their lips at night because they have something stuck in their mouth. This could be a piece of food, a toy, or anything else that may be irritating their mouth.
If you think this is the case, you can check your dog’s mouth to see if anything is stuck there. If you find something, you can try to remove it carefully. Otherwise, If you can’t remove it or your dog is resistant to you checking their mouth, it’s best to take them to the vet.
They will be able to safely remove whatever is stuck in your dog’s mouth and treat any irritation that may have been caused.
Nausea is another possible reason your dog may be smacking their lips at night. When a dog is nauseous, they may smack their lips to try to get rid of the taste in their mouth.
It’s the same reason many dogs heavily drool when in cars. They are essentially feeling nausea from being car sick.
Nausea can be caused by various things, including motion sickness, overeating, eating something they shouldn’t have, etc. If you think your dog may be nauseous, it’s best to take them to the vet, as they can help determine the cause and treat it accordingly.
#9 Anxiety or Stress
Anxiety and stress are two other possible reasons why your dog may be smacking their lips at night. When a dog is anxious or stressed, they may lick their lips to try to calm themselves down.
Dogs can feel anxiety and stress for a variety of reasons, including loud noises, changes in the household, being left alone, etc. If you think your dog may be feeling anxious or stressed, you can do a few things to help them.
You can try giving them a toy or bone to chew on, playing calming music, and leaving the TV or radio on for them. You can also talk to your vet about possible calming medications that may help.
#10 Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is another possible reason your dog may be smacking their lips at night.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and mouth.
This can cause a burning sensation in the throat and mouth, which can lead to dogs licking their lips as a way to try to soothe the irritation.
Acid reflux can be caused by a variety of things, including eating too much, eating too fast, eating certain foods, and being overweight.
If you think your dog may have acid reflux, it’s best to talk to your vet, as they can help determine the cause and treat it accordingly.
#11 Liver and Kidney Disease
Liver and kidney disease are other possible medical conditions that may be causing your dog to smack their lips at night.
These diseases can cause a build-up of toxins in the body which can lead to dogs licking their lips as a way to try to get rid of the taste.
Other liver and kidney disease symptoms include weight loss, appetite changes, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s best to take them to the vet as soon as possible.
They can run tests to see if liver or kidney disease is the cause and start treatment accordingly.
Dementia is another possible medical condition that may cause your dog to smack their lips at night.
Dementia is a cognitive disorder that can cause a decline in a dog’s mental function. It’s similar to #6 on our list of cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
One of the symptoms of dementia is lip-smacking. This is because as the disease progresses, dogs may lose the ability to control their muscles properly, which can lead to them smacking their lips involuntarily.
Other symptoms of dementia include disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, changes in behavior, and loss of appetite.
#13 Toxic Ingestion
Toxic ingestion is the last possible reason on our list of why your dog may be smacking their lips at night.
If your dog has ingested something toxic, they may start to smack their lips as a way to try to get rid of the taste. It could also be due to nausea from eating the toxic thing.
Some common signs that your dog has ingested something toxic include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and changes in behavior. If you think your dog may have eaten something harmful, it’s essential to take them to the vet as soon as possible.
They will be able to give them treatment to help them feel better and prevent further damage.
When Should You Be Worried About Lip Smacking?
The only times you should be concerned about your dog lip smacking is when the reasons for it are unknown or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms.
If your dog starts smacking their lips and you can’t figure out why it’s always best to err on the side of caution and take them to the vet. They can run tests and determine if an underlying medical condition causes it.
There are a few concerning health reasons that a dog could be lip-smacking that are the most significant causes for concern. These include liver disease, kidney disease, dementia, toxic ingestion, dehydration, cognitive dysfunction, and dental issues.
However, if the issue is more serious, other symptoms will often be combined with lip-smacking.
So, if your dog is only smacking their lips at night and there are no other symptoms, then there’s probably no need to worry. But, if they start smacking their lips and they seem off or have symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, then it’s time to take them to the vet.
How To Prevent A Dogs Lip Smacking At Night
It can be quite irritating if your dog sleeps anywhere near you and is constantly smacking their lips at night and making noise.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent your dog from smacking their lips at night. However, these prevention tips are only going to help with non-health-related issues.
Suppose your dog is lip-smacking because of a medical condition, injury, allergy, etc.. In that case, you’ll need to consult with a vet on how to treat the underlying issue.
Here are some tips to help prevent a dog from lip-smacking at night:
- Water: Make sure your dog has plenty of water during the day. A dehydrated dog is more likely to smack their lips at night.
- Snacks throughout the day and before bed: If your dog is lip-smacking because they’re hungry, make sure to give them some snacks or food throughout the day. You can also try giving them a small amount of food before bedtime.
- Invest in a white noise machine: If your dog is anxious and lip-smacking, investing in a white noise machine can help. This will block out any outside noise that may be disturbing your dog and causing them to lick their lips.
- Calming and sleep supplements: Supplements like CBD oil or Melatonin can help calm your dog and make them drowsy. This may help if your dog is lip-smacking because they’re anxious or can’t sleep.
- Exercise: A tired dog is a good dog. Getting in some exercise during the day will help tire out your dog and make them less likely to be restless at night.
- Dental care: Taking care of your dog’s teeth is important for their overall health. But, it can also help with lip-smacking. If your dog is smacking their lips because of an issue with their teeth or gums, then making sure they’re brushed and cleaned regularly can help prevent this.
Hopefully, these tips will help you prevent your dog from smacking their lips at night. However, if your dog is still smacking their lips and you’re concerned about a medical condition, always consult with a vet.
So as you can see, there are many possible reasons why your dog may be smacking their lips at night.
However, most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about and is just a quirky habit. While some medical conditions could be the cause, other symptoms will often accompany them.
If your dog is smacking their lips and you’re concerned, getting a professional to run tests is best. They can determine if there’s an underlying issue causing it.
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