Why Do Dogs Lick the Air?

Dogs are so different than humans that sometimes, their actions perplex us. One of those types of action is licking the air. It can be comical but if they continue doing this, it can be worrisome.

So, why do dogs lick the air? Is this an important matter you should look into? Can you avoid or fix this?

This article will talk more about this issue.


Why Do Dogs Lick the Air?

There are actually various reasons why your dog licks the air. It can be a sign of anxiety or it can mean they are physically unwell. Either way, this kind of behavior is something you should definitely look into.

Here are the most possible reasons why your dog exhibits this kind of behavior.


One of the main reasons behind this behavior is anxiety. This can happen when your dog is fearful or nervous. It can be because of their new environment, another animal, or a traumatic experience.

Regardless of the reason, dogs cope with anxiety through compulsive behaviors. They might lick themselves too much or even lick the air.

Licking is soothing for your dog. It makes them feel relaxed.

Observe your dog and see if this behavior comes up in stressful moments. If it does, anxiety is probably the culprit. Additionally, anxious dogs tend to pace and spin around.

If this problem continues on, it’s best to bring your dog to a certified animal behaviorist.

Something is Stuck in their Mouth

Your dog might appear to be licking the air, but it could be because something is in their mouth. It could be stuck between their teeth or on the roof of their mouth.

For example, your dog has just eaten peanut butter. There might be some leftovers on their lips. They’d lick it off and it would look like they’re licking the air.

If your dog does this out of the blue, open its mouth. See what might be bothering your dog. If it’s a treat, you can let them continue.

But if it’s a foreign object, try getting it out. You might need the help of a vet if it’s hard.

Keeping their Noses Moist

Your dog has an amazing sense of smell. If they pick up a particular scent, they will lick their noses so it becomes moist. In turn, it enables them to smell better.

This happens occasionally so it’s not something you should be worried about.

Skin Problems

Dogs with skin problems normally lick themselves to feel relieved. But if you have trained your dog not to lick, they may lick the air.

This can also happen if your dog previously had skin problems. They might have gotten used to this habit and continues to do so. Either way, check their skin again or if they have eaten anything they’re allergic to.

Gastrointestinal Issues

It appears that excessive licking, including licking the air, is common with dogs with GI. This came from a Canadian study in 2016.

It says 60% of dogs with licking issues have an underlying gastrointestinal issue. Some studies suggest that the number is higher at 75%.

Licking the air can be a sign of pancreatitis, reflux, or esophagitis. Nausea and vomiting may cause your dog to lick their lips. But instead of doing so, they lick the air.

If your dog is exhibiting this behavior and is accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting or more, see the vet.

When to Call a Vet

Knowing when to call the vet can help save your dog’s life. But before scheduling an appointment, assure your dog needs it.

Some of the reasons why your dog licks the air are harmless and normal. It’s likely that when it happens occasionally. When you do see them do it, observe them.

If your dog doesn’t show any sign of discomfort or pain, they’re alright.

Then again, not all licking is harmless. It can also be a sign that your dog is unwell and needs help.

As always, check your dog for any other symptoms. If you suspect something is wrong, schedule a vet meeting as soon as possible. They’ll be able to diagnose the problem or rule out some diagnoses.

Regular visits to the vet can help. They can diagnose problems early on and may treat it as soon as possible.

Never be afraid of bringing your dog to a vet for something as simple as air licking. If you feel something is wrong with your pooch, it’s best to give them immediate care.

If the vet has diagnosed anxiety, you can ask them to refer you to an animal behaviorist. This way, you’re sure of the person you’re getting help from.


Why do dogs lick the air? It can be from several different reasons. Some are harmless while some are signs that your dog is unwell.

About the author

Sarah Andrews

Hi I'm Sarah, dog lover and blogger. I was born into a dog-loving family and have been a proud doggy mommy ever since I can remember. I love sharing my dog knowledge and love being an active part of the dog-loving community.