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My dog keeps licking his lips and swallowing when he is eating. This is normal, but my girlfriend is concerned that it is something wrong with him. Does anyone know what it could be?
It sounds like he has oral suet. The way to check is to look at the mouth, when the tongue and lip area is clean you can then look at the teeth and gums. A dog that has suet will look clean on the tongue and lips and the teeth will be clean. If there are any signs of problems or issues then you might consider that suet may be a cause.
The other thing to consider is a dry mouth. Your dog might be drinking more than normal or getting too much water in one day. If he has a dry mouth he will have this behavior as well.
Another thought is to look at the texture of his tongue. It sounds like it might be smooth and soft. Is he licking anything else, or do you notice this behavior when he has something in his mouth? Do you notice this behavior at other times, even without food? If you notice these other things that are happening, then you may want to take him to the vet to find out if there is something else going on.
I'm a vet, and my opinion is that it sounds like your dog is licking himself a lot, more than usual. He might be picking up a lot of sugary substances on himself by licking, or he may be licking his paws or his food bowl more often than usual.
Either way, if he is picking up too many sugary substances, it could be a sign that he has an oral yeast infection. I would start treating him for it with the right medications, and if it persists you could take him to a vet to do a blood test. If it's not an infection, then it's probably nothing to worry about. But if it is, you may want to ask the vet how to treat it.
From what you've told us, it sounds like your dog is drinking a lot (which is good) and licking his face and mouth excessively (which isn't so good). I'd suggest getting him checked by a veterinarian to make sure this is just a symptom of a condition that might be worth treating.
I don't know about your dog, but there are some situations where I would be very worried that licking behavior was the cause. If your dog were licking or chewing on himself frequently, this could be a sign of a serious underlying condition that requires treatment.
For example, if your dog were chewing off his own fur or pulling out his fur by licking himself, this would be a sign of severe mange (which is fairly common in certain dogs and very dangerous). If your dog had a sore or lump in his throat, this could be a sign of a tumor (though most of the time this is not life-threatening).
There are plenty of other things, but if your dog licks himself excessively, this is a good indicator that something is wrong, or at least that you should check it out with your vet.
On a side note, I'm guessing you are a college student? If you aren't a vet and are concerned about this, you might want to consider talking with your advisor or professor to see if they have an idea of whether this is something you should be worried about. Most universities will let you get away with it, but if you have a family member or close friend who is a vet, it can be helpful to know if they think this is something you should see a vet about. In fact, this could even be a situation where they are willing to pay for your vet visit, but you'll need to check your school's policies.