Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?

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Do you have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that seems to constantly lick the air?

You might be wondering why they do this and if it’s something you should be concerned about.

Cavaliers and other breeds will lick the air for a number of reasons. Air licking amplifies smell and it is one of the most common reasons for this behaviour. It is their way of trying to figure out what’s going on around them. Other reasons can include boredom, attention-seeking, anxiety, and hunger.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?
Cavalier King Charles will often lick the air

Licking is normal behaviour

First, it’s important to understand that licking is a normal behaviour for dogs.

They often lick their own bodies as a way of grooming themselves, and they’ll also lick other dogs, people, and even objects.

Licking is also a way for dogs to show affection. When your Cavalier licks you, they’re essentially giving you a doggy kiss and showing respect.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?
Licking is normal behaviour

Dogs will also lick the air as a way to support their sense of smell. Licking helps the dog to capture scent particles which he can then taste/smell – it’s something that humans often experience but on a much lesser level than a dog.

Now that we’ve established that licking is normal behaviour for dogs, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your Cavalier might be licking the air.

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Air licking helps with scent

As we mentioned, one of the main reasons dogs will lick the air is to support their sense of smell.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spanie...

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and they rely on it heavily to understand their surroundings.

Licking amplifies smell by drawing scent particles into the Jacobson’s organ (the vomeronasal organ), which is located in the roof of the mouth.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?
Air licking enhances your dog’s sense of smell

The Jacobson’s organ allows dogs to process scent information and it plays a big role in their social behaviours, such as mate selection and recognising other dogs.

Boredom can cause air licking

Another common reason for air licking is boredom.

Dogs are social animals that need mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

If your Cavalier isn’t getting enough exercise or doesn’t have enough to do, they may start licking the air out of boredom.

This is often seen in dogs that are left alone for long periods of time with nothing to do.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?
A bored dog may lick the air, to try an find an interesting scent and for something to do

It could be attention seeking behaviour

Some dogs will lick the air as a way of getting attention.

Dogs are very smart and they quickly learn that certain behaviours result in a positive response from their owners.

If your Cavalier has learned that licking the air gets them attention, they’re likely to do it more often.

This is often seen in dogs that are starved for attention or don’t get enough human interaction.

Anxiety is a common cause of dogs licking the air

Another reason for air licking is anxiety.

Dogs can suffer from anxiety and stress just like humans, and it can manifest in a number of different ways.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?
An anxious dog may lick the air along with chewing and other behaviours

One of the most common signs of anxiety in dogs is licking or chewing on themselves excessively. This is often seen in dogs that are fearful or anxious.

Other signs of anxiety include panting, pacing, and shaking. If your Cavalier is showing any of these signs, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian.

Hunger

Some dogs will lick the air as a way of signalling that they’re hungry.

This is often seen in puppies or young dogs that are still learning to communicate with their owners.

If your Cavalier is licking the air and seems to be asking for food, it’s important to make sure they’re getting enough to eat.

Puppies and young dogs have small stomachs and need to eat more frequently than adults.

If you’re not sure how much to feed your Cavalier, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian.

Air licking can be a result of illness

Your Cavalier could be licking the air because he is unwell.

If he is feeling nauseous, maybe from a diet change or medication then he may lick the air to bring up what is making him sick.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?
He could be unwell and may need a check up with the vet

He may have a bad tooth or other dental condition and he may be licking the air to try and get rid of a strange taste, sensation or pain.

If this is the case, please take him to see your veterinarian as he may need medical attention.

When should you be concerned?

While licking the air is usually nothing to worry about, there are some situations when you should be concerned.

If your Cavalier starts licking the air excessively or if they start showing other signs of anxiety or stress, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian.

Your dog may need medication or training to help them cope with their anxiety.

Excessive licking can also be a sign of nutritional deficiencies, so it’s important to make sure your Cavalier is getting all the nutrients they need.

If you’re concerned about your Cavalier’s licking behaviour, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian. They will be able to rule out any medical conditions and advise you on the best course of action.

It might not be air licking

What appears to be air licking might not be so. Your Cavalier could be licking his nose, whiskers or teeth.

Often what we perceive as air licking is actually your Cavalier trying to clean his face.

Dogs have long whiskers on their muzzle that help them to navigate their surroundings and they’re very sensitive.

If your Cavalier’s whiskers are dirty or matted, he may lick them to clean them.

Why do Cavalier King Charles spaniels lick the air?
He might be licking his nose and not the air

Another possibility is that your Cavalier is actually licking his nose.

Dogs have a strong instinct to keep their noses clean and they will often lick their noses as a way of cleaning them.

Finally, your Cavalier could be licking his teeth.

Dogs don’t brush their teeth like humans do, so they rely on licking to keep their teeth clean.

If your Cavalier is licking his teeth excessively, it’s a good idea to take him to the vet to check for dental problems and this is particularly so if he has bad breath.

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Talk to your vet about it too

As well as reading about the potential reasons for air licking, you should always consult your vet if you are concerned about your Cavalier’s health.

Your vet will be able to identify any medical conditions and prescribe the correct course of treatment for your pet.

Final words

All dogs lick and air licking is normally the dog’s way of supporting his sense of smell as he explores the world around him.

While air licking is usually nothing to worry about, there are some situations when you should be concerned.

If your Cavalier starts licking the air excessively or if they start showing other signs of anxiety or stress, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian.

Your dog may need medication or other treatment to help them cope with their anxiety.

Excessive licking can also be a sign of nutritional deficiencies, so it’s important to make sure your Cavalier is getting all the nutrients they need.

If you’re concerned about your Cavalier’s licking behaviour, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian. They will be able to rule out any medical conditions and advise you on the best course of action.

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