Can Pets Have Tics?


Can a dog have a twitch? My Australian Shepherd/Golden Retriever constantly licks her lips. She almost never stops. I was wondering if this might be a kind of tic. Is that possible?


Some dogs and cats engage in stereotypic (repetitive) activities that can resemble tics. In my experience repetitive lip licking is one of the more common repetitive activities in dogs (my pal Buster licks his lips whenever he thinks someone is going to throw a ball for him).

Most repetitive activities are harmless, but sometimes they can lead to injury. Dogs that lick their wrists and ankles, rather than just their lips, may develop acral lick dermatitis. Cats that over-groom may develop psychogenic alopecia.

Some animals engage in repetitive activities when they are bored, stressed or understimulated (think of a tiger pacing in his cage in a zoo). You therefore should make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise, training, activity, and love.

Finally, you should have a vet evaluate your dog to make sure that the lip licking isn’t being caused by a dental problem. The vet also should perform a neurological evaluation to rule out a mild form of epilepsy.

If your dog is like most I have met, the lip licking is harmless.

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