Why Does My Dog Keep Gulping? 8 Common Reasons
People who are unfamiliar with dogs and their behavior won’t find it strange that a dog often licks and gulps. Sometimes this is due to animal reflexes, in other cases, it can be a sign of stress or illness.
Intense salivation, triggered by behavioral or reflex reasons, causes dogs to gulp frequently. Some health problems also manifest in the form of overly active mucous membranes.
The cause for concern is the permanent nature of this habit that might be the difference between the manifestation of simple reflexes (hunger, thirst) and a possible health problem.
8 common reasons why your dog keeps gulping
As you probably know, primary reflexes are manifested on the subconscious level. But even reflexes must have reasons that provoke the reaction.
Hunger and thirst
Like humans, dogs are sensitive to different smells but their sense of smell is several times stronger and subtler. When an animal feels hungry, its mucous membranes begin to work harder, actively producing saliva. Reflexively, dogs often swallow saliva and lick their nose to renew its moist coating, which helps reinforce its sense of smell.
It’s important to note that your pet only has this reaction when they are hungry and can smell something tasty. If this reaction is persistent, it would be wrong to attribute it to hunger.
A dry nose due to a decreased activity of mucous glands is another reason why dogs lick their nose. It may also indicate thirst. Licking and gulping, especially in hot weather, indicates the need for moisture.
Thirst can be quite dangerous, so it is important to ensure that your pet has access to water at all times. Refusal to drink or low water intake may indicate serious illness.
Stress and excitement
An animal experiencing strong emotions (fear, excitement, impatience) or being in a state of stress may lick not only the nose but also the entire muzzle. Emotional excitement causes the body to work more actively, so dogs swallow more often. Sometimes a particularly anxious dog will start smacking its lips.
Allergies that happen due to changes in diet are so common that they can be easily called a kind of anti-normality. Reduced food quality or an unfamiliar diet can be quite painful for a pet. Experienced breeders warn that any changes in a dog’s diet should be introduced gradually, over a period of time.
If there’s no time for a gradual change in diet, care should be taken to increase fluid intake and reduce exercise.
Dental, gum and mouth problems of all kinds affect the taste of saliva and mouth odor. By licking, an animal is trying to calm itself and improve its sense of smell. Bad breath can also be triggered by a bacterial infection.
Kidney and liver irregularities
Excessive salivation can be a sign of very serious kidney, urogenital system, and liver problems in a dog. Licking and gulping in an on itself is hardly a definitive symptom, so one should also pay attention to the frequency of urination, the ratio of fluids consumed to the amount of urine, and the color of the mucous membranes.
Excessive salivation combined with vomiting, diarrhea, decreased body temperature and cramps, pale or blue skin are all signs of poisoning. It would be a mistake to assume that a dog can be poisoned only if they pick something up when walking outside. Potential sources can be found in any home: household chemicals, spoiled food, medicines, pest control products and even chocolate, which is a terrible poison for dogs.
Constant licking and gulping, low mood, nausea, and lack of appetite may indicate a foreign object in your dog’s digestive system. Your pet might have swallowed something while playing outside, or it could be any other small object accidentally dropped around the house. If it doesn’t come out naturally, it can get stuck in the teeth or clog the intestines. In such cases, it is best to seek veterinary advice.
When there are stomach problems (e.g., gastritis, heartburn) your dog also suffers from heavy salivation and gulping. The acidity increases and the saliva takes on an unpleasant taste, causing the animal to try to reduce the discomfort and swallow more often.
How to fix the problem
If you don’t know why your dog is constantly licking and gulping, consider all possible causes and rule out the unlikely ones. In the case of illness, seek professional advice immediately. If possible, examine your pet at home so that rescue measures (for example, in case of poisoning) can be taken immediately. If health problems, mechanical damage and stress can be ruled out, try to solve behavioral problems by distracting your pet.