Why Does My Pug Lick The Air? The Most Common Reasons

Maybe you’ve noticed your Pug licking the air for no reason or while you’re rubbing their hips? It could be that your pooch has just developed a compulsive behavior, but according to veterinarians everywhere, “air licking” could be something worse. In this article, we’re going to answer the question “why does my Pug lick the air?”

Why Is My Pug Licking The Air?

There are several reasons that can cause your dog to continually lick the air and it could be due to the following reasons:

  • You’re rubbing a spot they can’t reach.
  • Flehmen Response.
  • A habit they’ve developed.
  • Behavioral reasons.
  • Medical Reasons.

Some dogs are bigger licker than others. Some pugs will lick their owner’s hands, faces, the floors, and excessively lick their own paws, lips and etc.

why does my Pug lick the air

We’ll take a closer look at what’s considered a normal behavior and what’s not. Additionally, as when it’s time to take them to the veterinarian.

Related: Why Do Pugs Lick So Much?

Why Do Pugs Lick The Air?

why do pugs lick the air
Air licking can be caused by obsessive behaviors, medical problems or just an annoying habit.

Licking is normal behavior for dogs and can be a sign of submission, grooming and etc.

Below are some of the reasons that are completely normal for your pooch to lick the air and do not require any action on your part:

Scratching or Rubbing Feels Good

It’s completely normal if a dog licks the air when you scratch or rub them in an area they can’t reach like their hips or butt. It may mimic the sensation they get when they are able to scratch or lick themselves.

They Love To Lick

Some dogs just lick because they enjoy doing it. There may not be anything medically wrong, or they may not be dealing with an obsessive compulsion. It’s not different than a habit you and I may have and enjoy doing it.

If your dog does not have any underlying medical or behavioral issues, you can get them to stop. It’s just going to take some time.

Flehmen Response

Your dog can smell 40 times greater than you and I. When you see your dog smacking their mouths or licking the air, it could be their flehmen response to an exciting scent that they’ve picked up in their mouths.

This response allows their tongue to catch tiny particles in the air through the open ducts found in their mouths. Flehmen response smells can lead to lifetime memories for your pooch.


Some dogs will lick the air when they get excited? For instance, my Pug used to lick the air excessively whenever we would get visitors.

Many pets will develop rituals they perform when they become excited, stressed and etc. As long as this behavior doesn’t lead to coughing, sneezing, gagging or breathing problems, there’s probably nothing to worry about.


If you notice your dog licking their lips or the air after they get done eating, it could something as simple as needing some freshwater to drink.

If your Pug does this every time after they eat, it could be that your dog’s food is making him nauseated?

It’s not normal behavior for dogs to lick the air after eating their food. If your Pug is doing this, you may want to consider switching their diet to food that does not upset their tummy.

Behavioral Reasons To Air Licking

Just like humans, dogs can develop obsessive-compulsive disorders. Some dogs will develop compulsive behaviors such as; tail chasing, spinning, circling, fence running, pacing, vocalizing, air licking and etc.

If your Pug suffers from any of these issues, you will want to seek professional help to understand what’s causing the behavior.

Medical Reasons To Air Licking

Maybe your dog’s licking can be a sign of an underlying medical condition? If so, you will want to consult your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis.

Funny Taste In Mouth Or Discomfort

If your Pug is suddenly licking their mouth, it could be that she has a funny taste in her mouth or something is causing discomfort in her mouth or throat.

You’ll want to check their mouth to see if you can see anything. However, if you notice any sneezing, gagging, coughing, or difficulty breathing, you’ll want to take her to the veterinarian immediately.

Dental Pain

Pugs are prone to dental problems and if your dog is experiencing any type of dental problems, it can lead to air licking. Take a look at your Pug’s teeth to see if you notice anything like a loose tooth or a buildup of tartar.

If you can’t see anything and it’s been a while since you’ve had your Pug’s teeth professionally cleaned, you may want to take them to the vet to get them a dental x-ray. This will help determine if your Pug has developed any type of dental disease.


When dogs feel nauseous, they lick their lips or other surfaces before they vomit. Make sure that your Pug hasn’t eaten something they shouldn’t of or the food they eat is not causing an upset tummy.

Some Pugs may eat grass when they are feeling nauseated.

Partial Seizures

According to Dr. Thompson, dogs may experience a partial seizure that can cause unusual repetitive behavior such as “air licking.” Partial seizures only affect a small part of the brain and without the proper medical attention, it will eventually lead to grand mal seizures.

Abdominal Pain

Another possibility may be that your Pug is experiencing gastrointestinal/abdominal abnormalities. Such abnormalities can include bowel disease, ulcers, gastric foreign body, pancreatitis inflammatory, or other causes of abdominal or gastrointestinal pain.

If you notice that your Pug is vomiting or has loose diarrhea stool, they may be dealing with some type of abdominal or gastrointestinal issue.

How to Stop My Pug Constantly Licking Air?

If your dog’s licking is driving you crazy, you can try to stop it. Before you attempt to stop this behavior, make sure your dog is not dealing with an underlying medical problem.

This may require you to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to help determine what’s causing this behavior. It could be as something as simple as a dislocated tooth that is making your Pug lick so much, or it could be something more serious.

Either way, you’ll want to make sure that you have Pug pet insurance as an emergency visit can be extremely expensive.

If your Pug doesn’t suffer from any medical conditions you can try doing the following to stop the excessive air licking.

  • Make sure your Pug has plenty of freshwater nearby. They may be licking because they are thirsty?
  • Check their mouths to make sure they don’t have anything stuck in their teeth.
  • Buy them some new toys to help keep them stimulated.
  • Put a leash on them and take them for a long walk. A tired dog will be less likely to pick up on those types of annoying habits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pug Scooting and Licking Air What Does It Mean?

It most likely means that her anal glands need to be flushed. She might lick the air because she can’t reach her tail to give her the relief she needs. Here’s how to squeeze your Pug’s anal glands, to help her get the relief she needs.

Final Word On My Pug Keeps Licking The Air

Persistent and excessive air licking can be caused by normal and abnormal behavior. If your dog has suddenly started licking the air, you may want to schedule an appointment with your veterinary.

We hope that this article helps you understand why dogs lick the air and what to do about it.

Related Articles You May Be Interested In:

Why Does My Pug Keep Licking The Floor?

Why Do Pugs Lick Their Lips So Much?

References And Further Reading

VetStreet – Mikkel Becker – Why Does My Dog Compulsively Lick The Air?

Pets 4 Homes – What Is Flehmen Response In Dogs?

PetMD – Seizures And Convulsions In Dogs

Black Pug Site