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Why Does My Shih Tzu Lick The Air? 7 Possible Reasons

Why Does My Shih Tzu Lick The Air? 7 Possible Reasons

Have you ever found your Shih Tzu running around the house with its tongue out, looking like it’s having one of the tastiest ice creams in the world? I’m sure the first thing that crossed your mind was: “Why does my Shih Tzu lick the air?

Although we all love our furry buddies, I’ll admit first that it’s not easy to be the owner of one, especially when they begin to show unusual behavior without any logical reasoning whatsoever. 

I mean, who could possibly imagine that one day, you’d be looking at your adorable pup sitting in the corner and licking the air like there’s no tomorrow instead of cuddling and enjoying time together?

Well, to clear up this mystery, I have gathered some of the most common reasons why Shih Tzus lick the air. Fortunately enough, most reasons aren’t worrisome, but some might require deeper analysis and examinations.

Why Does My Shih Tzu Lick The Air?

young shih tzu dog licking the air sitting on the grass

You probably thought that you’ve lost your mind or misunderstood your pup’s behavior the first time you saw your Shih Tzu putting in tremendous effort to lick something in the air. You might have also thought that this has happened to you only, especially if you’re a first-time owner.

But, quick research can show you that there are plenty of confused owners just like you, which makes it kind of easier to go through this phase of your pup’s life. I know I sure felt this way the first time I noticed my pooch showing this type of behavior.

To be honest, there can be many reasons behind excessive licking in Shih Tzus, which is why it’s important to pay attention to other behavior patterns. Air licking might sometimes be a symptom of a certain disorder, but it also might be a sign of hunger.

Here are some of the most common reasons why your Shih Tzu licks the air:

• Excitement

• Air Licking Syndrome

• Hunger

• Gastrointestinal issues

• Pain

• Anxiety

• Food Allergy


If your doggie licks the air throughout the day without showing any worrying signs of health issues, it could simply mean that it’s overly excited about something.

Shih Tzus might be small canines, but they have a great amount of energy that they show in different ways, including jumping around the house, playing with their toys, or even licking the air while sitting or laying down.

READ NEXT: Small Guard Dogs: 21 Little Dogs With A Big Attitude

Your pup might get excited about plenty of things, including new toys, feeding time, walks (outdoor time in general), their favorite humans, etc.

If the licking stops once the pup gets to the thing that got it excited in the first place, you don’t have to worry about it at all.

Air Licking Syndrome (ALS)

The best way to describe this type of behavior is to put it in the category of compulsive disorders. Although it first appears as a harmless gesture, air licking might be a sign of a more serious health issue.

However, ALS doesn’t have air licking as the only symptom. There are plenty of cases where Shih Tzus start to lick their paws excessively at the same time they begin with air licking.

Vets and dog experts agree that it’s important to take pups for regular checkups and mention these signals as soon as they appear. This way, you can prevent other problems, including paw infections, dehydration, breathing issues, etc.

Although this syndrome usually appears in big canines, small pups such as Shih Tzus can also be prone to it.


shih tzu dog is looking a snack in owner's hand

Let’s face it… we’ve all been there, including our pups. How many times have you licked your lips or the air just to show how hungry you are and how delicious something looks?

Well, the same behavior applies to dogs, including Shih Tzus. As soon as they feel hungry, they will put their tongue out and show you just how much they’re craving their favorite dog food. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should simply give in as soon as you see the tongue, or else you might end up with a fat Shih Tzu that won’t be able to move anything else but its tongue.

Jokes aside… I know it’s difficult to resist those puppy eyes and that little tongue wiggling from that cute mouth, but trying to save your beloved furry companion from obesity will become an impossible mission (without Ethan Hunt to save the day).

Having a few extra pounds isn’t such a huge deal, but if your pup gains a lot of weight, it might experience a great number of other health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular issues, hip and elbow dysplasia, and other conditions.

RELATED: Shih Tzu Growth Chart: How Big Will My Shih Tzu Be?

If you’re not sure how to feed your pup properly, the best ways are to stick to the feeding chart for Shih Tzus and vet recommendations.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Here is another health concern that might be related to your pup’s excessive air licking.

There are many cases in which Shih Tzus develop an unhealthy pattern of licking “nothing” as a result of certain issues in the digestive system.

Colitis is one of the most common reasons why canines might display such behavior, along with intestinal inflammations, gastritis, and other gastrointestinal problems.

Read More: Stress Colitis In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Of course, in such cases, air licking won’t be the only symptom as each of these conditions is followed by other signs that might include vomiting, nausea, lethargy, stomach pain, blood in the stool, etc.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to contact the vet as soon as possible.

Pain And Anxiety

Generally speaking, these two reasons should be separated as they’re not the same thing, but they both intertwine so often that it was simply practical to put them together.

If you have ever asked yourself: “Why does my Shih Tzu lick the air?”, it could be that your pup was going through a difficult time in its life. Although this might seem strange, dogs can have anxiety attacks just like humans.

Since we can’t understand them verbally, we need to look for signs that our furry pal is trying to give us.

Stress is bad for pups just as much as it is for people, but unfortunately, our little balls of fur aren’t spared from it, especially if they’re left alone.

RELATED: Leaving A Puppy Alone At Home For The First Time: 12 Tips

Dogs like Shih Tzus are good with kids and adults, but they can be quite clingy towards their owner, meaning that they might follow you even to the bathroom.

Excessive licking of the air might be a sign that your pup is in great pain, be it physically or mentally, as soon as you’re not there to take care of him.

Keep in mind that this can lead to destructive behavior, but also seizures, as stress and anxiety are usually the main culprits for such disorders.

Food Allergies

This is a common condition not only among Shih Tzus, but other breeds as well. Shih Tzus might be hypoallergenic, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have allergic reactions themselves.

If you notice that your pup is licking its lips excessively or trying to get its nose with its tongue, there’s a good chance that these parts of its body are irritated by certain allergens, and it’s simply trying to scratch those areas.

However, licking will rarely be the only symptom of an allergy, so if you don’t notice that your pup has teary eyes, itchy skin, or digestive issues, there’s a high chance that this isn’t an allergic reaction.

But, in case you notice any other signs of an allergy, you should take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. It would also be perfect if you could try to memorize what your doggie eats throughout the day simply to make sure that you know the cause of the allergy.

How Can I Prevent Such Behavior?

shih tzu dog sitting in the green grass next to her loving owner

Now that you have found answers to the question: “Why does my Shih Tzu lick the air?”, it’s natural that you want to know whether there is any way to prevent it.

To be honest, it all depends on the cause of licking. If it has to do with allergies, the best way to stop such action is to change the pup’s diet. It would be perfect if you could remember the exact type of food your pup ate before showing signs of an allergy.

If air licking appears because your pup is under stress, the reason is probably the lack of your presence or your attention. If you can, try to dedicate more time to your little furry friend by going outside, playing in the park, or simply cuddling in your lap.

However, I’d always recommend a visit to the vet before anything else. Whatever the cause of air licking might be, a certified veterinarian will be the best advisor you can get.

Why Does My Shih Tzu Lick The Air? Wrapping It Up

I hope that you got all the answers you needed throughout this article as it covers the most common reasons why your Shih Tzu likes to stick its tongue out and lick the air.

Occasional licks aren’t an issue, but if this type of behavior turns into an everyday routine, you should pay more attention to it.

The best way to deal with it is to take your furry companion to the vet and exclude any health issue as the cause for air licking.

It doesn’t always have to indicate a serious health condition, but it’s better to check than be sorry later.

Owning Shih Tzus is a wonderful experience as they’re adorable lap pups, but they are also challenging, so get yourself prepared for the ride!


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