Why Does My Dog Lick the Air? Here are the Causes of This Behavior

Skylar Dial
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Question: Why does my dog constantly lick the air?

Answer: Dogs are one of the most commonly known animals by humans and humans have been living with dogs since the dusky age. So it is but natural if we actually do not know the fact why do dogs lick the air?

Dogs keep their mouth closed most of the time. If they are not barking, they are eating, or otherwise sniffing or licking something and in that case, they do close their mouth. But if a dog licks the air all the time as if there is something in the air, then it must be a significant thing because they are so commonly known to do this.

Those are some of the reasons why dogs lick the air and it has something to do with their nature and behavior as well. It is a natural behavior of dogs and we must not conclude that their health if compromised because they are doing this if we do not find anything wrong with them.

So, it’s important to find out the rest of the reasons behind the licking of the air if we want to find out more about why dogs lick the air.

Some of the reasons why dogs lick the air:

They are bored: It’s a natural behavior of dogs to lick the air in a state of despair and boredom. It indicates that your dog feels so deserted and you haven’t done anything to maintain the playful behavior of the dog.


Dog Licking Air: The Simple Science of Canine Fluid Transfer

One of the first signs of an ill dog is excessive licking and chewing. This behavior can happen in any dog, but is most common in puppies and senior dogs. It may also be triggered by stress during travel or a painful condition, such as arthritis.

However, licking itself carries no harmful diseases. It is the act of licking; it’s followed by salivation and it’s what the dog is 'licking' that cause concern.

Dogs lick to a variety of reasons. Raising a puppy may seem to be a constant hygienic problem. Large amounts of hair can make a big build-up in the mouth, and licking helps to shed it to the ground.

Dogs also lick objects to investigate them, after noticing any scents on them, to clean themselves, and to receive nail-care from the tongue's abrasive nature.

If your dog is licking air in your living room, he is looking for attention. Dogs use licking to show the owner their affection and happiness, and will continue to lick until you engage with them.


Allergies in dogs can have symptoms such as itching skin, redness or ear and eye discharge. The licking behavior is just one of them. If your dog is constantly licking his paws, especially if your dog is constantly licking his paws, especially if it is accompanied by scratching and if there are signs of inflammation and skin irritation, the problem may lie in allergies. Your dog’s paws may be the areas that are affected.

It is normal for you to experience allergies caused by a certain type of dog food, just like it is normal for your dog to experience allergies. When your dog licks his paws, check with your vet to see if it is possible for you to switch to a different type of dog food that won’t affect your dog as badly. This also applies if you have changed your dog’s diet and he is still licking his paws. If you have been looking for dog food that may be the cause of allergies, you can check out recipes for homemade dog food and ingredients that may help reduce the allergies.

Dental Pain

Dogs lick the air because of tooth pain. Raising their muzzle to the air may help relieve the discomfort.

Gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria, is the most common cause of this condition. Left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis, otherwise known as chronic periodontal disease. Periodontitis usually affects the attachment of the tooth to the bone.

When your dog licks the air, it’s necessary to check his teeth to see if they’re in good shape and to rule out other possible causes, such as allergies.

Gastrointestinal Disease

Dogs with gastrointestinal diseases lick the air because of the discomfort they feel in their stomach.

In most cases I've seen in my practice, these dogs have a habit of gulping air when the feeling sets in, letting it remain in their stomach. This produces a sensation similar to gas.

There are many different causes for gastrointestinal disease, but regardless of what exactly is wrong, the signs and symptoms are very similar.

These include incessant, repetitive bouts of intense licking of the air and attempts to get away from trying to "burp up" the air.

Dogs with this condition may also have a short-term bout of throwing up, with the gagging sounds reminiscent of retching. But in these instances, nothing is actually vomited.

In the vast majority of those cases, the underlying cause is a gastrointestinal disease.

Remember that a dog may have difficulty belching and still have a full stomach. So if you find that the disease onset is not too long, it's best to take a trip to the vet before administering any of the treatments below.

Neurologic Disease

Some neurologic conditions such as vestibular disease, head trauma and brain tumor can result in dogs displaying repetitive licking of the air. Dogs with vestibular disease present with a lack of balance due to damage of the inner ear. Yes, dogs have inner ears that are just as complicated as those of humans and other animals.

Top causes of vestibular disease in dogs range from hereditary to infectious. Hereditary causes are immune-mediated disorders such as an autoimmune disease, a genetic disorder or even a metabolic disorder. Neuritis and polyneuropathy, which are inflammatory and degenerative, can also be hereditary. These conditions could result from tumors or stress that affects the neurotransmitters and neurotransmitters receptors of the inner ear and brain.

Dogs with vestibular disease may also experience intermittent loss of consciousness. Concussion could cause a stiff neck, ear flicking, head shaking and circling. Concussion in dogs can result from a fall, bumping into something hard like a wall or fence or even being hit by a car. A bump on the head, if significant enough, may in some cases result in a concussion.

A brain tumor can be the cause for excessive and repetitive licking of the air. It can also cause head tilting, tremor, staring and loss of balance.


Many dogs lick the air because they are scenting. The dog is usually smelling pheromones in the air that are coming off their own body or they are smelling the scent of another dog on the air and are marking it with their own.

Dogs will also lick at the air when they want to get your attention or are excited when they live with another pet, such as a cat, and they see or smell their favorite human (you).

Dogs may also lick at the air as a response to an outside stimulus. This could be a sound, such as a leaf skittering across the pavement or a whistle from the neighbor. It could be a certain movement in the leaves or a passing car. Air licking might also be a response to a visual stimulation, such as someone passing by a window, a soccer ball that is in the air or any number of other things.

In most cases, air licking that is a response to a stimulus is usually a positive response. But if it becomes excessive and continues long after the event, it could be an indication of a medical problem.


There are several possible reasons why you’re pup might be licking the air. The main cause is usually excessive drooling, which may signal he has an ear infection. Check his ears for ear mites, and if you notice an odor under his chin, he may have an infection in his mouth or throat. He could also have a respiratory infection, heart disease, or a neurological condition. Visit your vet to make a proper diagnosis and start his treatment.

You should also look at his skin for a flea or tick infestation. This can cause him to scratch or lick his paws. If necessary, use a flea and tick preventative to eliminate the problem.

Dogs also lick the air when they are inflamed or have a painful condition in their mouth or throat. If your dog has heart disease or neurological problems, this may be a sign of heart failure or a brain seizure, respectively. See your vet to get him the proper treatment.

If you’re worried about your dog licking the air, be sure you check for other signs of illness in addition to examining his mouth and tongue. This is especially important if he has a habit of licking the air. These can include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pawing at his mouth or face when the problem is on his left-hand side (for right-handed dogs)