Why Do Dogs Lick The Air? (11 Common Reasons)

Categorized as Why Does My Dog
dog licking the air

Have you ever wondered why your dog licks the air? If so, you’re not alone. Dog owners have been scratching their heads over this quirky behavior for years.

While there are a number of theories out there, the exact reason why dogs lick the air remains a mystery. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason behind it.

In fact, there are a few possible explanations for why your furry friend may be engaging in this odd behavior

In this article, we will explore eleven common reasons why dogs lick the air and what you can do about it if necessary.

1. They’re Hungry or Thirsty.

When dogs are hungry or thirsty, they sometimes lick the air to signal their owners that they’re ready for a meal or a drink. By licking the air, they can pick up on subtle scent molecules that might lead them to their desired destination.

While this behavior might not always be successful in getting the attention of their human companions, it’s still a cute way to let us know that they’re ready for some food or water.

This is why it is important to have a feeding schedule for your dog.

If you’ve ever tried to feed a dog without a schedule, you know it can be a mealtime minefield. They beg. They whine. They give you those big, sad eyes that make you feel guilty for not giving them every scrap of food in the house.

But here’s the thing: your dog doesn’t need to eat constantly throughout the day. By having a feeding schedule, you can help your dog (and yourself) avoid the stress of mealtime uncertainty.

By eating right on time, your dog will learn that there is no need to beg because they know their next meal is right around the corner. In addition, it helps to regulate their digestion and prevents them from becoming overweight.

So if you want to avoid the begging and the guilt, sit down and create a feeding schedule for your furry friend – they’ll thank you for it in the long run.

2. They Have a Foreign Object in Their Mouths

Another most likely explanation for why your dog is licking the air is that they have something caught in their mouths.

This could be anything from a piece of food to a small toy. When something doesn’t taste right or feels out of place, dogs will often try to lick it off.

Unfortunately, sometimes, this can often result in the object becoming lodged in their mouth.

When this happens, the dog will usually start licking the air frantically in an attempt to remove the foreign object. Of course, this usually just results in the object becoming further stuck.

So, if you notice your dog licking the air more frequently than normal, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at their mouth to see if you can spot the culprit.

If there is something lodged in their teeth or gums, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could lead to more serious problems down the road.

If you notice something stuck in your dog’s mouth, you can try to remove it manually by using both of your hands. Open the dog’s mouth and try to locate the object. Once you have a good grip on it, gently pull it out.

If you can’t, or if your dog is resistant, it’s best to take them to the vet so they can remove it safely.

3. Some Dogs Lick the Air When They’re Anxious or Stressed Out

If you’ve ever watched a dog nervously licking the air, you may have wondered what they’re doing. Though it may look strange, this behavior actually serves an important purpose. When dogs are anxious, they often lick the air to help calm themselves down.

The act of licking releases endorphins, which have a soothing effect.

Additionally, the act of licking requires coordination and concentration, which helps to focus the dog’s attention and redirect their energy away from whatever is causing their anxiety.

Though it may seem odd to us, they’re just trying to cope with the situation in the best way they know how.

Dogs can experience anxiety for a variety of reasons. It might be due to a traumatic event, such as being abandoned or abused. Or it could be the result of a medical condition, such as separation anxiety or PTSD.

And while it might be tempting to just give our pups a little pat and tell them everything will be okay, this won’t do anything to ease their anxiety long-term.

How To Help a Dog With Anxiety

If we want to help our dogs, it’s important to find the root cause of their anxiety first. Only then can we begin to take steps to help ease their fears. For example, if your dog is afraid of loud noises, you might want to move them to a quieter room during storms or fireworks.

If your dog is anxious around other people or animals, you might want to enroll them in socialization classes so they can learn to interact with others in a positive way.

Whatever the cause of your dog’s anxiety, there are steps you can take to help ease their fears. But it’s important to remember that every dog is different, so what works for one may not work for another.

If you’re unsure of how to proceed, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. They can help you create a personalized plan to help your dog cope with their anxiety in a healthy way.

4. It Could Be a Sign of Boredom for Some Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can get restless when they don’t have anything to do. And since licking is a natural way for dogs to relieve stress, some people theorize that the same behavior could also be a sign of boredom.

This is especially likely if the dog is pacing back and forth or seems restless in general. There are other signs that your dog is bored, of course. They may start pawing at the door, whining or barking for no reason, or chewing on your furniture

Two or three of these behaviors alone don’t necessarily mean your dog is bored. But if you notice a combination of these signs, it’s a good indication that they need more stimulation.

How To Help a Dog Who Is Bored

If you think your dog is bored, the best thing you can do is give them more attention. Spend more

The good news is that there are lots of ways to keep your dog entertained.

First, make sure they’re getting enough exercise. Dogs need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, though some may need more or less depending on their age, breed, and overall health.

In addition to daily walks or runs, you can also try playing fetch or Frisbee in your backyard, going for a swim, or even hiking together.

You can also try providing your dog with interactive toys, such as Kongs or puzzle feeders. These toys are designed to keep your dog’s mind active and engaged and can be a great way to prevent boredom.

5. A Dog Could Be Licking the Air To Amplify Their Sense of Smell

In some cases, a dog licking the air could be trying to amplify their sense of smell. When dogs curl up their top lips and flare their nostrils, they’re opening up their vomeronasal organ.

The vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ is a special organ located on the roof of the mouth, and it’s full of nerves that are sensitive to odor molecules.

When a dog sniffs something, those molecules travel up the nose and into the vomeronasal organ, where they’re analyzed.

This process allows dogs to gather all kinds of information about their environment – everything from what kind of food is available to whether there are potential mates nearby.

6. They’re Trying To Get Your Attention

Dogs are social creatures, and they crave attention from their human companions. If your dog is licking the air while you’re trying to work or watch TV, they might be trying to get your attention.

This is especially likely if you’ve inadvertently rewarded the behavior in the past.

For example, if you’ve gotten up to give your dog a treat every time they’ve licked the air, they’ve learned that the behavior gets them what they want. As a result, they’re likely to continue doing it in the future.

Of course, there are other ways your dog might be trying to get your attention. They might paw at you, whine or bark, or even bring you their favorite toy.

Unfortunately, there are some dog owners out there who don’t seem to realize how important it is to give their dogs the attention they need.

They think that as long as they provide food and shelter, their dog will be content. But the truth is if you don’t give your dog enough attention, they may start acting out in destructive ways, or they may become withdrawn and depressed.

Additionally, dogs who don’t receive enough attention are more likely to develop behavior problems, such as barking or chewing. So if you want a well-behaved dog who is happy and healthy, make sure to give him plenty of love and attention.

7. It’s Possible That Your Dog Has Dental Issues

If your dog is licking the air and seems to be in pain, it’s possible that they have dental issues.

A loose or painful tooth can change the pattern of your dog’s bite and may cause them to appear to lick at the air when they’re really just trying to relieve the pain.

Dental problems are relatively common in dogs, and they can cause a variety of symptoms including:

  • decreased appetite
  • excessive drooling
  • bad breath
  • red, swollen gums
  • dropping food from their mouth
  • blood in their saliva
  • pawing at their face

One of the most common dental problems in dogs is gum disease. Gum disease is a condition that occurs when bacteria accumulate on the gums and grow plaque. The bacteria can cause irritation and inflammation, and if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.

Another common dental problem is a fractured tooth. A fracture can occur due to trauma (such as being hit by a car) or chewing on hard objects (such as bones or sticks).

A fractured tooth can be extremely painful, and it’s important to get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

8. Some Dogs Lick the Air When They Feel Nauseous

If your dog starts licking the air followed by an apparent sign of discomforts, such as diarrhea, gagging, or vomiting, it might be because they’re feeling nauseous.

Infection with bacteria, viruses, parasites, or even certain medications can lead to vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. In addition, consuming new foods or large quantities of food can also cause stomach upset.

The best way to diagnose gastro problems in dogs is to bring take them to see a professional – namely, your veterinarian.

After all, dogs can’t exactly tell us what’s going on inside their digestive system and trying to self-diagnose your furry friend’s gastro issues can be a recipe for disaster.

Not to mention, there are a lot of potential causes of gastrointestinal problems in dogs, ranging from stress and allergies to infections and parasites.

However, there are a few things you can do at home to get a head start on the diagnosis process. First, take a close look at your dog’s poop. Is it normal in appearance? If not, that’s a clue that something might be wrong.

Also, pay attention to how often your dog is pooping. If there’s a sudden change in frequency, that could be another sign that something is off.

Finally, ask yourself if your dog has been exhibiting any other unusual behaviors, such as vomiting or loss of appetite.

9. A Senior Dog Could Be Experiencing Neurological Issues

If your dog is a senior dog over the age of 7, it’s possible that their odd licking behavior could be a sign of neurological problems namely Cognitive Dysfunction.

Cognitive dysfunction is quite common in the US, with an estimated 14% of dogs over the age of 7 affected by canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS).

The symptoms of CDS can be quite troubling for dog owners, as they often involve a decline in the dog’s mental faculties.

For example, many dogs with CDS will suffer from memory loss, confusion, and disorientation. They may also have difficulty performing simple tasks, such as going to the bathroom or following basic commands.

As a result, your dog may become fixated on certain actions, like licking the air. While it may seem bizarre, this behavior is actually quite common in dogs with cognitive dysfunction.

There are a number of treatment options available that can help your dog manage the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction and enjoy a good quality of life.

Pharmaceutical agents, dietary therapy, nutritional supplements, and behavioral enrichment are all effective ways to help your dog stay sharp as a senior citizen.

10. Your Dog Might Have Itchy Skin or External Parasites In The Mouth Area

If your dog is licking the air and their mouth area excessively, it could be a sign that they’re experiencing itchiness or irritation.

Allergies, insect bites, and even certain types of skin infections can cause dogs to lick and scratch at their skin.

External parasites, such as fleas and mites, can also cause itching and irritation. These parasites can be found in your dog’s environment, such as in the grass or on other animals.

Antihistamines and corticosteroids are often effective at relieving the symptoms of allergic reactions in dogs.

If your dog is infested with external parasites, there are a number of products available that can kill and repel these pests.

However, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before using any products to treat your dog.

11. Your Dog Could Have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

In some cases, dogs may lick the air due to an underlying psychological condition. One of the most common psychological conditions that can cause this behavior is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Dogs with OCD often perform repetitive behaviors, such as licking, chewing, or scratching, in an attempt to relieve anxiety or stress.

These behaviors may provide temporary relief, but they often end up exacerbating the dog’s anxiety in the long run.

Behavioral therapy, anti-anxiety medication, and changes to the home environment are all effective treatments for OCD in dogs.


Dogs licking the air is a behavior that can be both amusing and confusing for dog owners. While in many cases it’s nothing to worry about, there are some instances where this behavior can signify an underlying medical or behavioral issue.

If your dog suddenly starts licking the air or exhibiting other odd behaviors, It’s important to stay observant and pay attention to any changes in their behavior.

If you notice something out of the ordinary, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. The sooner they can diagnose what is causing these changes, the sooner they can begin treatment and get your pup back to their normal self.

Related Questions

1. Why Do Dogs Lick the Air When You Scratch Them?

When you scratch a dog’s back, they often seem to reach up and lick the air. It’s as if they’re trying to catch the elusive itch that’s just out of reach. But why do dogs do this?

It could be that they enjoy the sensation of scratching so much that they want to prolong it by licking the air.

Or it could be that they’re trying to tell you that they’re enjoying the scratch and would like you to keep going. Either way, it’s a cute quirk that many dog owners have come to know and love.

So next time your dog starts licking the air, just scratch them a little longer and enjoy the show.

2. Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs?

Have you ever wondered why your dog licks your legs? There are a few possible explanations. One possibility is that your dog is simply showing you affection. Dogs often lick their owners as a way of expressing their love and admiration.

Another possibility is that your dog is seeking attention. If you tend to lavish attention on your dog whenever he or she licks your legs, your pet may have learned that this is an effective way of getting the attention it desires.

3. Why Does My Dog Lick My Eyes?

When your dog licks your eyes, it might be gross, but there are actually a few reasons behind the behavior. For one thing, dogs are programmed to groom their pack members and that includes you! By licking your eyes, your dog is simply trying to keep you clean.

Of course, that doesn’t make it any less disgusting. In addition, dogs often lick as a sign of affection. When they lick your face, they’re trying to show you how much they love you.

Finally, it’s possible that your dog is simply bored and is looking for something to do.

4. Why Does My Dog Lick The Bed Sheets?

If you’ve ever woken up to find your dog licking your bedsheets, you may be wondering why they do this. There are actually a few reasons why your dog might lick your bedsheets.

For one thing, they may contain familiar scents that your dog finds comforting. Additionally, some dogs engage in this behavior when they’re feeling anxious or stressed. Finally, some dogs lick bedsheets as a way of marking their territory.

So if you’re looking for a way to stop your dog from licking your bedsheets, you may need to address any underlying issues like anxiety or stress.

5. Why Does My Dog Lick My Underwear?

If you’ve ever come home to find your dog licking your underwear, you may have been wondering why they would do such a thing. After all, it’s not the most appetizing item in your laundry basket.

However, there are a few possible explanations for this behavior.

One is that your dog is simply trying to get your scent on their body. This can be a way of bonding with you and showing their affection.

Another possibility is that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety and is desperate for any connection to you.

Finally, it could be that your dog is simply bored and is looking for something to do.