So your dog keeps flicking its tongue, eh? You’re probably worried that it’s down with a mysterious tongue syndrome that might turn it into a reptilian canine creature.
Lucky for you, it’s not that serious, but it’s something that you should seriously check. Stick around to learn more about it and why you should take the earliest chance to get it checked. ‘Nough said. Let’s get to it. Shall we?
Is Tongue-Flicking in Dogs Normal?
On the most superficial level, dogs flick out their tongue to display stress or anxiety. It’s simply a gesture of appeasement. Dogs use these kinds of gestures to show goodwill among aggressive or dominant dogs.
If your dog is stressed or anxious, consider the tongue gesture an active attempt to receive reassurance from its owner. Is it just me, or do they look so cute when they do this? Not to mention the eye contact they make while their tongue is out? Awww!
Appeasement is a likely reason behind the flicking, especially if you’re training your dog using harsh methods. Even the mildest, non-physical forms of punishment are enough to send waves of emotional discomfort to your dog.
If you notice that your dog occasionally flicks its tongue, stress and anxiety could be two of the most probable causes. If anything, question yourself if your canine has any reason to be upset or anxious. Maybe you’ve changed your dog’s routine in a way that it doesn’t like? Or is it those new training sessions?
Why Does My Dog Occasionally Flick Its Tongue?
One of the reasons you may be freaking about your dog’s weird behavior is because it’s never done something like that before. The following are some of the reasons why your dog may constantly be licking the air:
Sign of a Partial Seizure
Sometimes flicking is associated with a kind of seizure known as a partial seizure. At this point, you’re better off taking your canine companion to the vet rather than nurse it at home and pray for the best.
Dogs tend to snap at the air or flick their tongue amid a partial seizure. The reason behind this is that partial seizures often cause a typical brain activity that triggers unnatural muscle counteractions—floating much?
In simple terms, your dog flicks its tongue because there’s a severe problem in its brain. It foams in the mouth, loses control of its body, and starts to twitch, then uncontrollably paddle its legs.
A partial seizure is not as dramatic since it’s only focused on one side of your dog’s brain. The resulting symptoms will depend on which area of the brain where the seizure occurs. Common behaviors associated with a partial seizure is biting or air licking.
Contact your dog doctor if your canine companion gets regular seizures. The vet will prescribe some medication that will stop the flicking and prevent attacks.
However, you need to understand that diagnosing a seizure isn’t as easy as you think. It requires recording the dog’s brain waves from an epileptic episode.
Because you won’t expect your dog to have a seizure in front of the vet automatically, you can film it at home as it happens. Doing so will help the vet understand how long it lasts and give a precise diagnosis.
If the medical examination doesn’t point to any physical problem, your dog may be suffering from a mild compulsive disorder.
It Maybe a Compulsive Disorder
Okay, I won’t get all scientific with this post cause; obviously, that’s not my field of expertise. However, I can tell you for sure that dogs, like humans, may also suffer from compulsive disorders, which is a condition that causes them to repeat specific actions over and over.
So, yeah! Tongue-flicking may be a sign of a mild compulsive disorder. Fortunately, it’s manageable. Book a visit with your local vet and explain every detail of your dog’s abnormal behaviors. Start with the flicking tongue, will you?
You could also seek help from an animal behaviorist for further support and assistance.
It May Be Sick
Sometime back, my dog started developing issues with his digestive tract. Whenever he felt like throwing up, he’d always begin licking the air.
I visited his vet, and it became clear that the medication and change in diet were the sources of the problem. Without knowing it, I had triggered digestive symptoms like bowel inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, delayed gastric emptying, and so on.
I made the switch to his original diet, stopped giving him medication, and just like that, his flickering stopped.
Another probable reason behind your dog’s peculiar behavior would be a dental injury. To be sure, take your dog to the vet for physical exams and testing. Be ready to answer any question your vet may have in regards to their flicking tendency.
It may also help to film your dog’s tongue when it flicks out, along with any effort you take to stop it. You could alternatively list down your observations, including when it happens and your dog’s reaction after the flicking.
It’s Probably a Sign Of Old Age
Yup. Your little doggie is slowly becoming an old dog. As the dog age, it tends to display mysterious behavior in different stages of its life. One of them being drumroll, please – tongue flicking.
Though there’s no particular medication to stop these habitual behaviors, try administering medications like Dasuquin, Rimadyl, and Deramaxx. These will go a long way in maintaining their overall health and manage any pain they may be experiencing.
You should also maintain a well-balanced diet and supplement it with Omega-3 fatty acids and collagen products. These will provide consistent physical and mental interaction that helps delay the rate at which your canine companion displays weird behavior.
They’re Probably Dreaming
Does your dog flick out its tongue only when it’s sleeping? Well, no need to sound the alarm. That’s simply a sign that it’s wandering away in dreamland. In such a case, tongue flicking is often accompanied by mild or severe twitching.
If your dog experiences random convulsions, you need to ensure it’s not a seizure or something else more severe than a harmless dream. Try waking it up with some noise or a slight pat on its side if you notice the convulsions are getting out of hand.
If it wakes up, rest assured that the tongue-flicking was nothing out of the ordinary. On the other hand, if your dog doesn’t wake up and it’s not hearing impaired, there’s a possibility that it’s a seizure.
Like humans, dogs tend to behave in specific ways based on their moods. If a dog is overexcited, it will always have its tongue out as it moves restlessly from one place to another.
If you’re irritated by the constant tongue flicking, you can keep it under control by rewarding it whenever it displays a relaxed behavior. Alternatively, you can ignore your dog when it gets hyperactive.
The more you give them treats, the more they’ll learn to maintain a relaxed mood even when they’re super excited. Other negative emotions that may cause your dog to flick its tongue include fear, anxiety, and stress. There are five things you can do in case any of these emotions pop up:
- Get in touch with qualified dog behavioral specialists. They will help you to pinpoint the cause of the tense state and recondition its behavior.
- Contact your vet to explore different calming medications for severe cases.
- Get rid of the stimulus. You can also place your dog in a different place where they’re free of the trigger.
- Provide treats or toys to redirect its attention.
- Let your dog out, quite literally. Let it socialize with its fellow canines and be free to explore new environments.
There’s Something Stuck in Its Mouth
Imagine you’re done snacking on a tasty peanut butter sandwich, and you have some of it stuck above your upper lip. You’re going to engage your tongue in a severe round of acrobatics to try and get it off. This engagement is what your dog is trying to do.
Tongue flicking is typical behavior among dogs, especially during or after mealtimes. Since they can’t pick out things with their paws, they use their dexterous tongues instead.
If it’s a stray bit of kibble stuck on their nose or a coat of peanut butter in their teeth, know that the mysterious tongue action is temporary, and you don’t need to worry.
Dogs can also have inedible items stuck in their mouths. Stuff like sticks or toys often gets stuck in their mouths.
That’s why you must inspect your dog’s mouth to ascertain that it’s nothing serious. If it is, you’ll do well to leave it to a professional who will use something more than their pedicured nails to get it out.
It Could Be a Sign of a Gastrointestinal Issue
Excessive flicking is widely regarded as a sign of tummy troubles among the canine species.
Gastrointestinal conditions such as acid reflux and acute pancreatitis often disturb the dog’s digestive system.
Because you won’t ever find your dog whining about their pain, a severe issue such as this might go over your head. A report by PetMD reveals that approximately 60% of canines that exhibit symptoms of excessive licking often suffer from an underlying gastrointestinal issue.
Licking the air is probably the best way for dogs to deal with nausea. Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting are regarded as significant signs of a digestive tract issue, but not always. Your dog might also become sensitive to touch on the abdomen and experience a low appetite.
GI disorders such as chronic pancreatitis often lead to more severe health concerns when left untreated. Look out for tongue flicking as the first sign.
What Do You Do If Your Dog Flicks Its Tongue?
If your dog pants with his tongue sticking out, that’s perfectly normal. However, if the panting seems excessive and there’s no justifiable reason behind it, don’t think twice about conducting a thorough examination.
Yes, you can examine home (but to a limited degree), but you should leave that to the pros. Do the examination, especially if your furry friend is either in pain or visibly anxious.
I’d personally recommend a thorough professional examination in case of any abnormal masses or growths inside your dog’s mouth. Other signs to look out for are red/inflamed gums or even missing teeth. Such conditions need to be looked into sooner rather than later.
The treatments should be appropriately conducted based on the diagnosis and conditions from the examination.
What Can You Do to Prevent Your Dog’s Tongue from Flicking Out?
If your dog’s unusual behavior is genetic, there’s nothing much you can do. On the other hand, if the cause of the tongue is panting, try making some changes to your pet’s play regimen and exercise. Allow enough time for rest and ensure that it doesn’t become overheated by maintaining appropriate temperatures.
If the cause of the flicking is dental disease, brush your dog’s tongue with Sensodyne (just kidding). All jokes aside, keep your dog’s oral health in check by making regular visits to your pet’s doctor. These visits are a crucial step to ensuring your dog’s flicking tongue is kept under control.
It also helps to be more vigilant of where your dog exercises. No person in their right mind would play fetch with their dog in a desert or other scorching spots. Engage your pet in excellent public places such as parks or other recreational areas.
Should You Be Worried About Your Dog’s Flicking Tongue?
Not the slightest bit. When your dog licks the air for a while and then goes back to normal, there’s no reason to holla at your vet.
If your little bundle of joy is particularly enthusiastic about kisses, they could be flicking their tongue in a deliberate attempt to draw closer to you and give you some love. You should only be worried if it happens from time to time.
If this behavior interferes with your furry friend’s quality of life, don’t hesitate to visit the vet.