9 Proven Reasons Why Do Dogs Lick The Air & How To Help Your Dog

9 Proven Reasons Why Do Dogs Lick The Air & How To Help Your Dog

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jul 10 2023


Dogs use all kinds of gestures and behaviors as their way of communication. Some behaviors may seem strange to us, but it's how they try to communicate something. Licking air is one of those behaviors. If you are a dog owner and if you ever caught your dog licking the air, most probably you ask yourself: "why do dogs lick the air?". Is it a good sign, or does licking indicate that something is wrong with your dog and he is asking for help? Although weird, this behavior has its own purpose; all you have to do is "listen."

Why do dogs lick the air?

Air licking is described as a cute and funny dog behavior, but rather than just taking pictures of your dog, you will have to find a reason why your dog does it. There are a few possible reasons why dogs lick the air, and some of them include:

1. The dog is trying to get a better smell

It is known that dogs communicate with their noses. Their sense of smell is roughly 10 000 to 100 000 times better than ours. When they start licking the air, in most cases will be because of this reason. They can get additional information by licking the air.

dog licking air

2. Anxiety

If your dog often licks the air, it could indicate stress or anxiety. This is a severe health concern for your dog, and you must help him. Depending on the severity of this medical state, your dog will require a different treatment approach. So he may need medications or anti-anxiety supplements, and the best thing you can do is to talk with your vet about proper treatment.

RELATED: 7 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Suffer From Separation Anxiety

3. Gastrointestinal problems

Gastrointestinal problems are very common for many dogs, and if air licking is accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, the most probable cause is gastrointestinal problems. In most cases, this state will be caused by food sensitivity, but it could also indicate some serious health diseases.

The best thing you can do if you notice these symptoms is to contact your vet and schedule an appointment. Your vet will perform a physical exam of your dog and can help you determine what is causing problems for your dog.

4. Boredom

It is not uncommon for dogs to start to exhibit all kinds of different behavior out of boredom. Licking air is also included. If your dog is under-stimulated and doesn't get enough daily activities, he could start licking the air to entertain himself.

The solution to this problem is to provide your dog with enough daily physical and mental activities. Those activities will tire your dog, and he won't be bored anymore.

RELATED: How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need in a Day

5. A foreign item stuck in his mouth

Did you catch your dog licking the air after his meal? If so, a chuck of food could be stuck in their throat or between their teeth, and by licking the air, they will try to remove it.

dog licking air

Also, foreign items such as bones or wooden sticks could be stuck in your dog's mouth, and your dog will try everything to remove that object, including air licking.

6. Compulsive disorder

Like humans, dogs can also be diagnosed with compulsive disorders where they will show repetitive behavior such as air licking. If your dog's licking seems to occur in new situations, it may have progressed to the level where you can no longer control it. To solve this, you will need vet help.

7. Liver problems

In some rare cases, liver problems can cause air licking. If your dog has symptoms such as weight loss, increased thirst, loss of appetite, yellowish eyes, tongue, or gums, the liver could be causing these problems. Contact your vet, and he will set your dog up for some testing to confirm that your dog has liver problems.

RELATED:  Liver Disease in Dogs | Causes & Treatment

8. Dental problems

A cracked or loose tooth can also be a reason for this dog's behavior. Dogs will start licking the air to remove the unpleasant feeling in their mouth. They can also lick to relieve toothache.

dog licking air

Dental care is very important for your dog, although it doesn't seem like it. You will have to brush your dog's teeth regularly to prevent bacteria and tartar buildup and to keep your dog's teeth in the best condition.

RELATED:  Dog Teeth Cleaning - How to Keep Your Dog's Teeth Clean?

9. Cognitive dysfunction

If you own a senior dog, the reason for air licking could be CDS or cognitive dysfunction syndrome. It is estimated that around 14% of senior dogs are diagnosed with this syndrome. To help your dog, talk with your vet, and together, you can find the best solution that will suit your senior dog.

These are the most reported reasons why dogs start to lick the air; of course, your dog could begin licking because of the reason that is not listed here.

When should I be worried about a dog licking the air?

To be a responsible dog owner, you must watch your dog. That means you must know what your dog is trying to communicate to help him (if the medical problem is bothering your dog). If your dog starts licking air from time to time and doesn't show this behavior too often, you have nothing to worry about. In most cases, it will be related to your dog trying to get a better smell.

You should be worried about if you catch your dog always showing this behavior. This could indicate that something is bothering your dog, and to remove this behavior, you will have to find a reason why your dog does it.

How to help your dog?

The best thing you can do if you didn't sure what is causing problems for your dog is to talk to your vet. They have much more experience and will gladly help you and your dog. Based on the symptoms and frequency, your vet can perform a physical exam to determine what is bothering your dog.

If it is some medical problem, your vet will treat your dog in accordance with the requirements of a specific disease.


Air licking is considered funny and cute dog behavior, but it could also indicate something is bothering your dog. In most cases, dogs will lick air out of boredom or try to get a better smell. In other situations, health problems can cause this behavior, and you must recognize what is bothering your dog to help him.

World Dog Finder team

World Dog Finder Logo