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My Dog Keeps Burping and Licking Their Lips: 6 Vet-Approved Causes & Reasons To Worry

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

english bulldog sitting on the bench

As dog owners, it’s normal to become concerned when you notice your dog showing signs of unusual behaviors. If your dog is burping and licking their lips, you might think that something is wrong with them. Dogs can burp and lick their lips for a variety of reasons, with some of the reasons being normal, and others indicating a possible health condition that can be worrisome.

If you find that your dog is excessively burping and licking their lips, you should take them to a veterinarian. Most dogs will burp and lick their lips once or twice after eating a meal, and it is not usually a cause for concern.

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Can Dogs Burp?

Yes, just like humans, dogs can burp too. They will usually burp to get rid of a build-up of gas in their bodies, especially if they have consumed a large meal too quickly and ingested too much air. It is completely natural for dogs to burp, but it becomes a cause for concern when it becomes a frequent behavior in your dog accompanied by other abnormal behaviors. Most dogs can’t control when they are going to burp, since it’s an involuntary bodily function.

When a dog is burping, it may look like they are about to vomit, instead, nothing will come out except some air. Some dogs will produce a slight noise during the burp and move their head forward, but they won’t open their mouth very wide. Many dogs will lick their lips after burping which is normal and generally nothing to worry about.

The burp may have no smell or waft of their recent meal, but foul-smelling burps that smell like rotten eggs can be caused by protein-rich meals or certain medications.1 Fishy burps can indicate that your dog has either recently been licking their anal glands or that they have some sort of dental issue causing bad breath.

australian shepherd dog eating
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

The 6 Reasons Why Your Dog is Burping and Licking Their Lips

Let’s take a look at the reasons why dogs burp and lick their lips below.

1. Built-Up Gas

A build-up of gas in your dog’s stomach is the main reason why they burp. Your dog can gulp in too much air when they are consuming a meal or drinking water. This is especially common in dogs who eat extremely quickly or eat large meals, allowing air to accumulate in their esophagus. The dog’s natural body reaction is to burp to expel this air, helping to relieve the dog of any discomfort they were feeling from the trapped air.

Dogs who are overeating large portions of food should be fed small frequent meals throughout the day rather than one large meal. If your dog is eating their food too quickly, use a slow-feeding bowl or a puzzle feeder to make them eat slower.

2. Indigestion or Acid Reflux

Dogs can suffer from indigestion and acid reflux which can cause them to burp. Acid reflux can cause your dog to burp and lick their lips even if it has been hours since their last meal or gulp of water. This occurs when your dog’s stomach acid rises into their esophagus and causes irritation. Dogs can suffer from acid reflux due to their diets, medications, or certain health conditions.

Indigestion can affect your dog if they eat certain foods that don’t agree with them or quickly eat too much food at once. Indigestion can also lead to acid reflux, along with bloating and excessive burping.

dog in a dog bed licking
Image Credit: Ira Lee Nesbitt, Pixabay

3. Anxiety or Stress

Dogs who feel stressed, anxious, or threatened may lick their lips more often. They will also show other body language indicating their discomfort with the situation, such as laid-back ears, avoiding eye contact, and a tucked tail. If your dog is gulping air while licking their lips due to stress, the intake of air could cause them to burp.

4. Nausea

Many dog owners will know the stress of having to move a retching dog away from the clean furniture or carpets. Burping can be a sign your dog is feeling nauseous or about to vomit. The sound your dog makes while burping can sound similar to the sounds and motions they make when they are going to vomit. Dogs can get nauseous from illness, medications, eating the wrong foods or foreign items, or indigestion. When dogs feel like they are going to vomit or if they have vomited already, they will lick their lips.

a black dog vomiting outside
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

5. Diet

Not all foods will be tolerated by your dog’s digestive system and can cause your dog gastrointestinal upset. Dogs who eat a raw protein diet may experience sulfur burps, which makes their burps smell like rotten eggs. This is because meats (especially red meats) contain sulfur which is broken down in your dog’s stomach and can produce bad-smelling burps.

Your dog could also be allergic or suffering from food sensitivities that are causing excessive gas and burping. This could be from lower-quality dog foods, a lactose intolerance, or from allergies to certain ingredients, especially proteins, in the food. If your dog burps most frequently after a meal, speak to your dog’s veterinarian about switching their diet.

6. Breed

Certain dog breeders are gassier than others, such as the brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds like bulldogs and pugs due to their anatomy. Flat-faced dogs suffer from acid reflux, which causes lip licking. They may burp more than other breeds, as they gulp a lot of air when panting when they have a difficult time breathing.

female english bulldog sitting on the grass
Image Credit: BLACK17BG, Pixabay

When To Worry

While a dog burping and licking their lips after a meal or long gulp of water is normal, dogs who are burping more frequently and show signs of an underlying health problem should be seen by a veterinarian.

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux, can be mild and only occur while your dog is developing, or may become chronic, causing secondary inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis). It is important to get your pup to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect they are suffering from acid reflux. Sometimes a few adjustments can be made to help your dog with this uncomfortable and serious problem. Dogs who seem to have trouble breathing and continuously burp, drool, or wheeze may be choking on something, so always monitor your dog if they are showing any abnormal behavior.

Bloat is another condition to watch for in a dog who is excessively burping. If their burps and lip licking are accompanied by vomiting and a firm, distended stomach, your dog may be suffering from bloat or gastric dilation volvulus (GVD). This is quite serious and requires immediate veterinary treatment. It seems that large and deep-chested dogs are more at risk of developing this condition.

dog vomiting
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

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A dog who is burping and licking their lips can either be completely normal, such as after a meal, or it can be the result of a possible health problem that needs to be checked out by a veterinarian. If your dog is burping and licking their lips more frequently than normal and is showing other signs of illness or distress, then it is usually a cause for concern.

Otherwise, the occasional burp followed by lip licking is usually harmless and normal in dogs.

Featured Image Credit: Piqsesls

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