You may be surprised to see your dog licking his lips before he falls asleep. There are a number of reasons why a dog might be doing this.
Dogs would lick their lips before falling asleep for various reasons, such as part of their grooming (cleaning up any residue in their mouth), to ease their pain due to mouth related discomfort or when they are feeling stressed, anxious, thirsty or hungry.
Whatever the reason, it’s important for you to know about it to address it accordingly.
Part Of His Grooming
This is a very common behavior among dogs. It is something that they do to clean themselves and make them feel good!
Just like for humans, we brush our teeth right before we sleep, Dogs will also do their “cleaning”, which is licking their lips before sleeping.
You see, licking stimulates the circulation of saliva in his mouth, which flushes out any residue that may be there and keeps his teeth and gums clean.
It also helps to make your dog feel relaxed and calm and prepare him for a better sleep.
In fact, it has been shown that dogs who are not allowed to groom themselves before bedtime will have significantly more health problems than those who are.
So, next time your dog starts to groom himself when you put him to bed, simply step back and let him finish the job.
An Attempt To Ease His Pain
Your dog could be suffering from some mouth related discomfort such as teeth or gum pain (gingivitis or periodontal disease) or oral infection, and he is performing the licking in an attempt to ease his discomfort.
Licking helps to release endorphins, which are the “natural painkillers” for your dog. It stimulates a “positive” feeling in his body and soothes the pain.
You see, tooth and gum pain is a common problem in dogs. It’s often caused by plaque, tartar buildup and irritation of the gums.
Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on your dog’s teeth. It’s like an invisible plaque buildup that can irritate your dog’s gums.
This causes them to swell, which creates an unpleasant sensation for your dog.
If not treated properly, this irritation can lead to tooth and gum disease which can cause your dog to become seriously ill.
If your dog has these conditions, you should bring him to see a vet immediately.
He Is Feeling Stress
If you find your dog has only been doing this action lately, recall if there are any things that have made him stressed recently?
Maybe you have moved to a new home, renovated your house, or you have new members staying in your home.
You see, when your dog gets stressed, he tends to lick his lips more often as a way to calm him down and relieve some of the pressure he is having.
Besides licking his lips, he may also be chewing on something else, such as his bed, before he gets to sleep. Other indicators include cowering, hiding, shaking and yawning.
Therefore, whenever you see your dog exhibiting these behaviors, you should pay special attention to him as it could be a sign that he is feeling stressed.
Remember, your furry friend is an important part of your life, and you should never ignore his signals.
He Is Feeling Thirsty
To combat a dry lip and mouth, a dehydrated dog will perform the action of licking his lip just to quench his thirst.
The action of licking will release salivary gland fluids which will moisten his mouth and throat. This, in turn, will relieve some dryness and discomfort.
You will likely see him doing this action if he is unable to sleep as a result of thirst.
Licking is an instinctive way for him to soothe himself.
So it is important to make sure that your dog has adequate water consumption daily, especially if he is engaged in many outdoor exercises, that will deplete his body fluids.
How much water should a dog take daily?
For each pound of body weight in a dog, one ounce of fluid is needed per day.
Of course, this varies based on his size and activity level. The rule of thumb is the bigger the dog, and the more active he is, the more water he needs.
To prevent dehydration, it is crucial that your dog receives adequate amounts of water each day.
It is also important for him to have it in the right form. Give him only clean plain water in a bowl. Keep his water clean and make sure that there are no particles in it.
He Needs Some Food
Your dog might be feeling hungry, and he is looking for some food before he sleeps.
By licking his lip, he is trying to “tell” you that he is hungry and needs something to eat.
This is likely to be the case if he is underfed, or he is out for a long walk after his dinner and that makes him go hungry again!
Make sure that you provide him with a healthy, balanced diet so that he doesn’t go hungry and start looking for food.
It is best to feed your dog a balanced diet that includes proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Proteins are essential for building and repairing body tissues. They also promote growth and development.
Fats are necessary for proper functioning of the nerves, muscles and brain.
Carbohydrates are the body’s energy source.
Include high-quality protein such as meat, eggs, and poultry; carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, cereal, corn, and sweet potatoes as well as low-fat milk and dairy products in his diet regime.
You see, if your dog feels hungry and starts looking for food, he might eat the waste food from the trash and that could lead to the risk of health issues.
Avoid any strenuous exercise that could make him “burn” out his carbohydrates and make him feel hungry again.
You can go for some mental simulation games, such as playing crossword puzzles, or giving him a KONG toy to play with, just to keep him mentally tired and get him ready for the night’s sleep.
A Sign Of Anxiety Or Unease
Your dog could be licking his lips to exhibit his anxiety as he knows that he is going to be alone when you are getting him to sleep.
He is not feeling comfortable staying alone for the night.
This is often the case of your dog suffering from separation anxiety, and he will be more anxious when you are going to leave him alone.
What you can do is to start him with some training to build up his confidence to be alone, and crate training will be an ideal choice to start with.
When he is crate trained, he will see the crate as his safe haven, and he will be able to feel more at ease when you are not around.
Crate training also makes it easier for you to leave him alone for longer periods of time.
When you are crate training your dog, you must make sure that he is used to the fact that you are leaving him alone.
This way, when you do leave him alone, he will not be afraid and will not have any anxiety attacks.
Make the crate a cozy place for him to be in and place some of his favorite toys inside the crate with him.
Make him associate the crate with fun and pleasure, and he will begin to see it as a happy place to be in.
He will soon look forward to spending time in his cozy den for the night without feeling anxious.