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The 7 Real Reasons Why Your Dog Keeps Licking

Some dogs just can’t seem to hold their “licker”! Whether they are licking you, your furniture, the floors, themselves, or just flapping their tongues, there is usually a medical or behavioral explanation.

Read on to find out why your pooch is licking and what you should do to remedy it.

1. Affection

When your dog showers you with joyful licks after a long day apart, it really does mean he’s happy to see you! Affectionate licking starts at birth. Mother dogs lick their pups to clean them up after feedings and stimulate them to urinate and defecate. From their earliest moments on Earth, dogs learn that licking is an act of love and caregiving.

As long as you do not mind an occasional tongue bath, there is no reason to curb this behavior. If your dog’s licking is constant, try simply walking away. Removing yourself from the unwanted behavior teaches your pup that licking leads to the absense of their beloved human.


2. Sensory Stimuli

Dogs “see” the world through their noses and their senses of smell and taste are closely tied together. Therefore it is no surprise that the cause of a dog’s licking is often sensory. Many dogs lap excess water from their humans when they step out of the shower. A lick-fest directed at your hands or face may be your pup’s attempt to sample your most recent snack. They may also enjoy the smell of your body lotion or lick a particular throw pillow because of the material’s texture.

In order to deter your pup from this type of licking, wash your hands frequently and freshen up after meals. Also, be sure your floors and furniture are crumb-free and avoid using harmful cleaning products.


3. Cleaning

Licking their paws clean after a walk in the rain is normal behavior for dogs. However, this practice can be dangerous. Leptospirosis, a harmful bacterial infection, can be transmitted by ingesting standing water. One way to deter this behavior is to gently wipe your dog’s paws with pet safe grooming wipes after a trip outside.

Excessive licking of the feet could also indicate a medical condition like allergies or gastrointestinal illness.


4. Pain

Dogs cannot rub a sore or painful spot on their body so they lick instead. Licking at their joints may signify arthritis, while aimlessly licking their lips could indicate an upset stomach or dental pain. Painful licking is technically a normal behavior, but dogs that obsessively lick one spot can cause ulcerated lesions called lick granulomas (a problem also seen in anxious lickers). Excessive licking after an injury or surgery could lead to premature removal of sutures, reopening of the surgical site, or infection – hence the dreaded cone of shame!

If your dog’s licking is unexplained, be sure to seek veterinary attention to rule out a medical cause.


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