Why Do Dogs Lick?
She hears the shower turn on and patiently waits, swooping in as soon as we turn off the water. Then, she licks and licks and licks our legs until we tell her “STOP!”. In the bed, sitting with us on the sofa, playing on the floor…. Sasha licks arms, legs, faces…whatever she can find. WHY DO DOGS LICK???!!! What are they trying to tell us?
Pups lick for behavioral reasons:
- We Taste Good! Dogs lick the floor, their food bowls, or if they can reach it, the kitchen counter. Our skin has salt on it and, sometimes, particles of food. In addition, we often have on lotion and perfume.
- Sensory Exploration How do humans explore new things? We use our eyes and our ability to touch. Pups use their tongues as an exploration tool. Our pup is blind, so her tongue is the only way she can explore new things.
- It’s a Sign of Affection
- Boredom or Anxiousness will cause your pup to lick. Licking is a way to release stress.
- Socialization A puppy licks its mom as part of the feeding process, which becomes a learned habit. As pups mature, they often lick other dogs as a way to get attention from them.
Pups lick for medical reasons:
- Allergies and infections from bacteria, fungus or parasites can also cause itchiness and therefore lead to excessive licking.
- Underlying pain from an injury or arthritis can cause dogs to lick, similar to when a person rubs a sore muscle or joint. The licking releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers, to help soothe the pain. A final cause of licking can be from gastrointestinal issues.
Does your pups licking drive you crazy? What can you do? If you feel that your pup is an excessive licker, consult your vet or a pup behaviorist. Otherwise, take it as a sign of affection…a kiss from your pup.
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