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Why My Dog Keeps Licking Everything and Gagging? (Answered!)



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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It’s a common question that dog owners ask their vets: why does my dog keep licking everything and gagging? There can be a number of reasons for this behavior, some of which are more serious than others.

In this blog post, we will discuss the most common causes of excessive licking and gagging in dogs, as well as how to treat them.

We hope that this information will help you better understand your dog’s behavior and make sure that they stay healthy and happy!

Key Takeaway

  • A dog that keeps licking everything and gagging could be exhibiting signs of nausea, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), a foreign substance stuck in their windpipe, a condition called Pica where they compulsively lick non-food items due to boredom, anxiety, or hunger, or they could be reacting to a dietary issue or an irritated skin condition.
  • Training your dog to stop licking and gagging involves identifying and addressing the root cause, which could be medical or behavioral, providing necessary treatment, and employing positive reinforcement training techniques to discourage unwanted behavior.

Why My Dog Keeps Licking Everything and Gagging?

Dogs keep licking everything for a variety of reasons. Some dogs lick because they’re anxious or stressed, while others may do it because they enjoy the taste or texture of what they’re licking.

But gagging after licking is what confuses many pet parents. So, here are five reasons why your dog keeps licking everything and gagging.

1. Your dog could be experiencing nausea

Nausea is an uncomfortable feeling in dogs that is often accompanied by vomiting. It can be caused by a variety of things, including motion sickness, eating something that doesn’t agree with them, or certain medical conditions.

There are a few reasons why dogs might lick and gag when they are nauseous. One reason is that they are trying to rid themselves of the taste of something that makes them sick.

Another possibility is that they are seeking out a cool, wet surface to help relieve nausea-related stomach discomfort. Finally, some experts believe that dogs may lick because they know it will make them feel better.

If your dog is experiencing nausea, there are a few things you can do to help them feel better. First, try to figure out what might be causing nausea. If they’ve recently eaten something unusual or different from their usual diet, that could be the culprit.

Motion sickness is also a common cause of nausea in dogs, so if they’re car sick or get queasy on rides at the park, that could be the problem. Once you’ve determined the likely cause of nausea, you can try and avoid triggering your dog’s nausea.

2. Your dog has an upset stomach

Vomiting is a reflex that helps remove toxins and irritants from the stomach. When a dog’s stomach is upset, it may lick to help soothe it. Licking also stimulates the production of saliva, which can help neutralize stomach acid. Vomiting may also help remove any food or fluids that are causing irritation.

An upset stomach in dogs is usually characterized by licking, gagging, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. However, Sometimes an upset stomach can also be caused by eating something that disagrees with them or eating too much.

If your dog has an upset stomach, there are a few things you can do to help them feel better. Offer small amounts of water or ice chips to avoid dehydration.

You can also try feeding them small amounts of bland food like boiled chicken and rice. If your dog continues to vomit or has other symptoms like diarrhea, loss of appetite, or lethargy, contact your veterinarian for further guidance.

3. Your dog might have Pica

Pica is a condition that can afflict dogs (and other animals) in which they compulsively eat non-food items. It can be harmful to their health, as they can ingest things that are poisonous or indigestible. Basically, a dog with pica will eat something that it shouldn’t, and then it will lick and gag in order to get rid of that taste in its mouth.

Pica is a condition where dogs compulsively lick non-food items. It can be triggered by boredom, anxiety, or even hunger. If your dog is displaying this behavior, it’s important to seek professional help so it can get the treatment they need. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help discourage your dog from licking:

  • Provide them with plenty of chew toys and bones to keep their mouth busy.
  • Give them lots of love and attention so they feel secure and loved.
  • Make sure they have a balanced diet and are getting all the nutrients they need.

4. They simply enjoy the texture but not the taste

Some dogs simply enjoy the texture of what they’re licking, but not how it tastes. When a dog licks something, its saliva mixes with the object’s molecules and changes its chemical composition.

This can sometimes cause an adverse reaction in the dog’s stomach, resulting in gagging or vomiting. It’s not entirely clear why this happens, but it’s thought that some dogs may be more sensitive to certain chemicals than others.

If your dog is constantly licking their own fur, for example, they may simply enjoy the taste of their shampoo or the feeling of being clean and fresh. However, the shampoo can make them gag. Many dogs lick as part of their natural grooming habits.

Dogs typically groom themselves by licking their fur, which helps to remove dirt, debris, and loose hair. This means that they can have some debris in the fur that they have eaten. Now, they will try to lick something else to get rid of the taste but will gag in the process.

5. Underlying medical conditions

There are a few medical reasons that could be the root cause of your dog incessant licking and gagging. One possibility is that your dog has an upset stomach and is trying to soothe it by licking.

Another possibility is that your dog has allergies and is trying to relieve itchiness or irritation. If your dog’s licking and gagging behavior is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, it’s best to take them to the vet to rule out any serious health issues.

Why Is My Dog Licking Everything And Throwing Up?

Your dog licking everything and throwing up may be due to reasons such as nausea, gastrointestinal distress, anxiety, or a foreign object ingestion.


Nausea can cause your dog to lick excessively and vomit. Symptoms of nausea in dogs often include drooling, lip smacking, swallowing excessively, and licking the air, their lips, or objects around them.

If your dog is nauseous, they might also refuse food, have a depressed mood, and show signs of abdominal discomfort.

Gastrointestinal Distress

Gastrointestinal distress, like stomach upset, inflammation, or blockage in the intestines, can be a reason for your dog’s behavior.

The distress can cause discomfort, leading to excessive licking and eventually vomiting. In severe cases, it can lead to loss of appetite and weight loss.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety can also make a dog lick excessively and vomit. Dogs with anxiety may engage in compulsive behaviors such as licking or chewing to soothe themselves.

When anxious, some dogs might lick the floor, walls, or other objects, which can lead to gagging or vomiting, especially if they ingest something harmful or indigestible.

Foreign Object Ingestion

If your dog has swallowed a foreign object, it might be causing discomfort, leading to excessive licking and gagging.

The foreign object can cause an obstruction in the digestive tract, which can lead to vomiting. It’s important to seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect this is the case.

Dietary Indiscretion

Dietary indiscretion, or eating non-food items, can upset your dog’s stomach and cause them to throw up.

Dogs who eat grass, for example, often end up vomiting because their bodies cannot digest the grass. Similarly, sudden changes in diet can also upset a dog’s stomach, leading to similar symptoms.

Obsessive Disorder or Stress

Obsessive disorders or stress can cause a dog to lick excessively. Repetitive behaviors, such as constant floor licking, could be a sign of these conditions.

In these cases, the excessive licking is more of a symptom than a cause of the vomiting. However, if the dog ingests something while licking, it could lead to vomiting says PetMD.

Why Does My Dog Keep Swallowing And Licking?

Your dog may keep swallowing and licking due to various reasons such as medical problems, behavioral issues, mouth issues, allergies, incorrect diet, or nausea.

Medical Problems

Medical conditions like dental disease, gastrointestinal problems, or liver issues can cause a dog to continuously lick and swallow. Dogs with dental disease may experience discomfort in their mouth leading them to lick more often.

Gastrointestinal problems can make a dog feel nauseous, resulting in excessive licking and swallowing. Liver problems can also cause similar symptoms.

Behavioral Issues

Behavioral issues or stress can also lead to excessive licking and swallowing in dogs. Some dogs may show repetitive behaviors like constant licking when they’re anxious or stressed. In some cases, licking can be a normal behavior of communication for dogs.

Mouth Issues

Mouth issues such as a foreign object stuck in the mouth or periodontal problems can cause a dog to continually lick and swallow. The dog may be trying to dislodge the foreign object or soothe the discomfort caused by dental problems through licking.


Allergies can cause excessive licking in dogs. If a dog is allergic to certain foods, environmental factors, or substances, it may result in itching or discomfort that the dog tries to alleviate by licking.

Incorrect Diet

An incorrect diet can lead to gulping attacks with excessive licking in dogs. If a dog’s diet doesn’t agree with its stomach, it can cause reflux, making the dog lick and swallow excessively. Switching to a single protein and carb diet might help to calm down the reflux.


Nausea is a common reason for dogs to lick their lips and swallow excessively. When a dog feels nauseous, it may drool and try to control the sick feeling by licking and swallowing.

How To Train Your Dog To Stop Licking and Gagging

Training your dog to stop licking and gagging involves identifying the root cause of the behavior, providing appropriate medical treatment if necessary, and implementing behavioral modifications or training techniques.

Identify the Root Cause

The first step in training your dog to stop these behaviors is to identify the root cause. This could be a medical issue such as nausea, foreign body ingestion, dental disease, or an allergic reaction to food.

It could also be a behavioral issue such as stress, anxiety, or a condition called Pica where they compulsively lick non-food items due to boredom, anxiety, or hunger. Once the root cause is identified, appropriate steps can be taken to address it.

Provide Appropriate Medical Treatment

If the cause of your dog’s behavior is a medical problem, then the solution lies in treating that condition. For instance, if your dog has a foreign object stuck in its windpipe, removing the object will likely stop the gagging and licking.

If your dog is experiencing gastrointestinal issues causing nausea, proper medication and dietary adjustments can help alleviate these symptoms.

Implement Behavioral Modifications

If the root cause is behavioral, then implementing certain behavioral modifications can be effective.

This can include providing more mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom, using positive reinforcement to discourage unwanted behaviors, or seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist.

Use Training Techniques

Training techniques such as redirecting your dog’s attention, teaching them to focus on you on command, or using a ‘leave it’ command can be effective in stopping excessive licking.

Training should always be done using positive reinforcement methods, rewarding the dog for displaying the desired behavior.

Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

If your dog’s licking and gagging is due to an incorrect diet or allergies, adjusting their diet can solve the problem.

This might mean switching to a hypoallergenic diet, feeding them smaller, more frequent meals, or avoiding foods that they’re allergic to. Always consult with a vet before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Consult a Veterinarian

If your dog continues to lick and gag despite your efforts, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. They can perform a thorough examination and provide further treatment options.

Persistent licking and gagging can indicate serious health issues, so it’s crucial to seek professional help if the behavior doesn’t stop.


Q: How can I determine if my dog’s licking and gagging is due to anxiety?

A: If your dog only exhibits this behavior when they are in specific situations or during certain activities, it could indicate anxiety. Look for signs of restlessness, excessive panting, pacing, or other signs of distress. Consulting with a professional dog behaviorist may be beneficial in managing anxiety-related conditions.

Q: Could boredom cause my dog to lick everything and gag?

A: Yes, dogs that are bored often find ways to entertain themselves, which can involve excessive licking. Providing mental stimulation, interactive toys, and regular exercise can help alleviate boredom and reduce the licking behavior.

Q: What are some common allergies that can cause my dog to lick and gag?

A: Dogs can be allergic to various allergens, including certain foods, environmental factors, or even flea bites. Common food allergies in dogs often include chicken, beef, wheat, and dairy products. It is best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the specific allergens affecting your dog and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Q: Can gastrointestinal issues be the reason behind my dog’s licking and gagging?

A: Yes, gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux or gastritis can lead to excessive licking and gagging in dogs. If you suspect that your dog’s behavior is related to digestive issues, consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Q: Should I be concerned if my dog frequently licks and gags?

A: Yes, it is important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and consult with a veterinarian if the licking and gagging becomes excessive or persists for an extended period. It could be a sign of an underlying health issue that requires medical attention.

Q: How can I help alleviate my dog’s licking and gagging?

A: Depending on the underlying cause, there are several approaches you can take to address your dog’s licking and gagging behavior. These may include providing mental and physical stimulation, identifying and eliminating allergens, implementing stress-reduction techniques, or following a specific medical treatment plan prescribed by a veterinarian.

Q: Is it normal for dogs to lick themselves?

A: Yes, it is normal for dogs to lick themselves as a means of grooming and cleaning. However, if the licking becomes excessive or leads to skin irritation, it may indicate an underlying issue that needs attention.

Q: What should I do if my dog’s licking and gagging suddenly worsen?

A: If you notice a sudden worsening of your dog’s behavior, it is important to consult with a veterinarian promptly. They can conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause of the change and provide appropriate treatment options.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, our furry companions have a natural tendency to lick and groom themselves as a way of cleaning and showing affection.

However, excessive licking and gagging can be signs of underlying health issues or behavioral problems.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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