Q. I’ve noticed my dog licks his lips whenever a stranger walks nearby. Is there a connection, or is it just a coincidence?
Bunky Le Paige
Dear Mr. Le Paige,
A. A dog may lick his lips when he is feeling emotionally uncomfortable or threatened. Some animal behaviorists describe it as an appeasement gesture — an effort to soothe or disarm someone they perceive to be a threat. You might see a fair amount of lip licking in a veterinarian’s waiting room.
Dogs also sometimes lick their lips when they are confused — during training, for instance. It could be a sign that a pet is feeling overwhelmed and that it’s time to end the session and have a fresh start later or the next day.
Do pay attention to lip licking. If it’s not about a health issue like dental pain or nausea, it means your dog is feeling stressed or worried and could use a little TLC.