You may have a dog that just loves to lick each other’s teeth. This is common, and it happens among all dog breeds. But why do dogs lick each other’s teeth in the first place? As you know, there is no single answer.
Dogs can be complicated to understand, and you need to know all the explanations for each situation or action in order to understand them properly. There are a few explanations why dogs lick each other’s teeth.
Reasons Why Dogs Lick Each Other’s Teeth
Check For Treats They Didn’t Get
This is actually the most common answer to the question. Why do dogs lick each other’s teeth? Simply put, they want to check if the second dog is getting treats or food, and they don’t. It is commonly seen in households where dog owners have two or three dogs. By licking, a dog can tell what food the second dog got and whether there are any treats he can get as well.
It Means “Hello.”
Yes, dogs will lick the teeth of other dogs to say hello. They cannot speak, so this is a strange action they can use. Wolves do the same thing for the same reason. Other details about why wolves are doing this are not perfectly clear. In a nutshell, your dog will lick the teeth of another dog when they meet or when they see after some time.
This action can last for a few seconds or a few minutes, and the first reason on this list can be applied as well. If the licking process lasts longer than usual, it is probably because your dog tasted something delicious on the teeth of another dog.
You may want to talk to the owner of the second dog and see what he is feeding his pet. You can do the same. Chances are high that those two dogs will lick each other’s teeth every time they see each other.
He Is Gathering Interesting Information
Although it can be a part of the first point here, this still deserves a separate paragraph. A dog will lick the teeth and mouth of another dog in order to gather information.
These are smells and odours humans cannot detect, but dogs can. A dog can tell where the second dog was, what he ate, and so much more. This information is used to understand the environment better and to become aware of the surroundings.
To Clean Another Dog
Once again, we can see that this explanation is related to food and treats. Dogs will lick the teeth and mouth of another dog in order to remove any crumbs, pieces of food, or anything similar.
It is common for smaller dogs to do this to larger dogs. It is like getting a free treat or additional food for them. Of course, some dogs won’t do this and will want a piece of their own food.
He Likes The Second Dog
It is a sign of affection if your dog licks the teeth of another dog you own or recently met.You can say that the two are kissing. Yes, it looks sloppy, and it is far from an ideal French kiss, but it is a kiss nonetheless. The first dog is trying to tell the second one that he likes him and wants to spend time together.
Here we can see additional reasons. Try to remember that this can be a separate reason why he is licking the teeth of other dogs or it can be part of this point right here. In a nutshell, he will lick the teeth to kiss another dog and to invite him to play.
The literal translation of this action would be “I really like you and I want to play with you, so let’s go.” As you can see, a simple act by a dog can mean a whole sentence and usually even more. The situation is the same with almost all actions a dog takes.
The Second Dog Is Superior
A small dog or one that isn’t an alpha will likely lick the teeth of a superior dog. By definition, it means that the first dog is submissive while the second one is dominant. Keep in mind that size has nothing to do with this.
For example, a Chihuahua likes to be dominant, and some will even try to do that when surrounded by large dogs. In this scenario, licking simply means that the dog is aware of his position in the pack. He is telling that to another dog.
Don’t forget that you, the dog owner, must be the alpha in the home. It is important in order to control your dog. If he notices you liking something else, there could be complications.
It is possible that a dog is doing this as a sign of apology. He may be sorry for something he did or for something he didn’t do. One way or another, it means I am sorry, and the second dog is aware of that. This reason can be shown without any links to the point we have here.
A Dog Has A Compulsive Behaviour Issue
This is one of the rarest explanations, and usually it can be seen among some dogs who will lick almost anything.
They are compulsive lickers, and they will lick almost anything at any given moment. In other words, they can lick anything they can, and the teeth of other dogs are on the list. Dog owners can see these dogs licking the paws, eyes, mouth, furniture, tail, other animals, and almost anything else.
When is the Licking Behavior a Concern?
Teeth-licking among dogs is largely a benign behavior, influenced by instinct and social dynamics. However, like any behavior, when it becomes excessive or provokes a negative response, it may warrant further attention. Here are a few circumstances when teeth licking might be a cause for concern:
1. Excessive Licking
Occasional teeth licking is normal, but if one dog is incessantly targeting another’s mouth, it could signify a deeper issue. Compulsive behaviors can be a sign of underlying stress, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Moreover, excessive licking can lead to dental problems. It might cause the enamel to wear down or lead to plaque buildup, resulting in conditions like gingivitis and tooth decay. If you notice this type of obsessive behavior, it’s recommended to consult a veterinarian or canine behaviorist.
2. Aggressive Reaction
Watch out for the response of the dog on the receiving end of the licking. While some dogs might not mind it, others may see it as an intrusion of their personal space and respond aggressively. If the licked dog is showing signs of discomfort—like growling, snapping, or stiff body language—it’s essential to intervene and redirect their attention to prevent a potential fight.
3. Health Risks
Another concern arises when the dog being licked has dental diseases or contagious health conditions. Dogs don’t discriminate when they lick, and if the other dog has an infection or disease, particularly in the mouth or on the skin, your dog could become infected too. Therefore, regularly monitor your dogs for any signs of health problems and ensure they receive appropriate veterinary care when needed.
In any of these situations, the best course of action is to consult with a professional—be it a veterinarian or dog behaviorist. They can provide guidance on mitigating these issues effectively, ensuring the health and happiness of your canine companions.
How to Manage Excessive Licking
If your dog’s licking behavior becomes excessive, it can create discomfort or even health issues for the receiving dog, while potentially signaling a problem with the licking dog. Here are some strategies to help manage and curb this habit:
1. Distract and Redirect
When you see your dog starting to excessively lick another dog’s teeth, try to distract them with a toy, treat, or activity they enjoy. By redirecting their attention to something more positive, they can gradually learn to associate the distraction with stopping their licking behavior.
2. Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation
A bored or anxious dog may resort to compulsive behaviors like excessive licking. Providing your dog with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation can help reduce these behaviors. This can involve walks, playtime, training sessions, puzzle toys, or interactive games that challenge them mentally.
3. Training and Commands
Teach your dog commands like “leave it” or “stop.” Start by training them in a calm environment and gradually introduce distractions as they improve. Over time, your dog can learn to respond to these commands even in the presence of another dog’s teeth, helping curb their licking habit.
4. Professional Help
If the excessive licking continues despite your efforts, it’s advisable to seek help from a professional dog trainer or a behaviorist. They can offer specific strategies tailored to your dog’s situation. Additionally, a vet check-up can rule out any potential medical issues that might be causing this behavior.
The Final Word
It’s a complicated question, but why do dogs lick each other’s teeth.Luckily, we have presented you with the answer, and you know all the reasons and have all the explanations known to man.
This action isn’t bad and isn’t something you should try to change. It is something most, if not all, dogs will do at some point. Just remember that some dogs don’t like when another dog licks their mouth or teeth.