So, why do dogs lick?
This is a question many of you might find yourselves asking. I wondered myself, which brought on the idea for this article. I mean, we know in general a dog will lick to taste things. That’s the obvious. But is there more to it?
Let's find out…
We all typically notice a dog will lick the floor if food spills, lick our faces, and some dogs even seem to have a foot fetish. My one pup Lexus is obsessed with licking feet! But why?
- When a dog licks the floor, we can assume that food has been spilled.
- If your dog licks the couch cushions, again, we can assume there are food particles there.
- When a dog licks your face, this could be a number of things – such as showing us affection, they could be attempting to groom us, or they could simply like the salty taste of our skin.
- If your dog licks your feet, we can assume they must like the taste, as gross as that sounds.
All of this sounds pretty straightforward, and rather obvious am I right?
Let's get a little deeper. The reasons I listed above are only scratching the surface as to why a dog licks. The truth is, there can potentially be much more to it than we think.
If your dog has ever had a wound, you will have noticed him licking it. While we may find that odd, the reason they do this is because a dog's saliva contains enzymes which kill bacteria. Our pups lick their wounds to help the healing process. Although this has to be monitored, as some dogs can get out of control and lick their wounds constantly, thus reopening the area.
Your dog may also lick out of comfort. Believe it or not, some dogs are extremely comforted when they lick objects or even humans. It can provide them with the same feeling human children would get from snuggling with their mother.
Licking can even take a disturbing turn as we get into compulsive behavior. Yep, it’s true. There are many dogs out there who quickly turn into compulsive lickers. While that may sound silly, it can actually lead to self-destruction, and is often a sign that your dog has anxiety.
- Does your dog show signs of compulsive licking?
- Does he/she tend to lick one area for a long duration of time?
- During a stressful situation, have you noticed your dog finds comfort in licking themselves, or an area of the house?
These can all be signs of compulsive licking. There are some things you can do to help.
Redirect the behavior - when you notice your dog licking one single area for far too long, take him/her for a walk, or introduce a toy or treat to redirect their attention.
Compulsive licking can sometimes mean your dog may not be getting enough exercise. In this situation, extra exercise can help deter the licking behaviors.
Water therapy can be a great tool for anxious dogs.
Above all else, if you notice your dog has an abnormal licking habit, seek answers from your veterinarian. Before anything, medical and neurological reasons need to be ruled out. Also, keep in mind that licking is perfectly normal for all dogs. When it becomes compulsive – that is when you need to find a solution.
What is your dog's favorite thing to lick? Please share your comments with us!