If only dogs could talk. Until technology progresses to the point where pet parents can have meaningful two-way conversations with their furry friends, we’re left with the next best thing.
Your dog attempts to communicate with you in a multitude of ways. Vocalization, gestures, and bringing you things like their toys or their leash are valuable ways to relay information to you. Even licking can be a part of your dog’s communication style.
If your dog is constantly licking, here’s what you need to know to interpret their language. In most cases, licking isn’t indicative that something is seriously wrong. Here’s what dog owners need to know about licking behavior.
Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking Themselves?
There are two reasons dogs constantly lick themselves. Most of the time, this behavior isn’t indicative of any major concerns. Paying close attention to your dog’s behavior will help to illuminate the cause.
Normal Grooming Behavior
Dogs have to lick themselves. Unless you’re bathing your dog daily, your dog is responsible for day-to-day self-grooming. Dogs lick themselves to manage their coats and keep themselves clean. Bathing your dog every 4 weeks can help them to maintain a healthy coat and skin, minimizing the amount of self-grooming they feel the need to do.
If your dog is dealing with severe skin irritation or joint pain, you’ll likely notice. You’ll be able to see red patches or weeping skin. Your dog’s mobility would be hindered by severe joint pain if your dog ever develops severe irritation. If you believe either scenario to be the case, your dog needs to see a vet immediately.
If your dog is experiencing minor skin irritation as a result of sensitivity, launder your dog’s bedding with a dye free, fragrance free laundry detergent. Wash the spot with oatmeal soap, dry it off, and apply a skin protectant like VETCBD Hemp Balm to support overall skin health.
VETCBD Hemp Balm can also target local inflammation. Licking may serve as a form of positive stimulation to irritation. Lightly massage the balm into the affected area. There’s no need to worry if your dog licks the spot after the balm has been applied — it’s completely natural.
Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking Me?
While it may be a bit annoying (or a little gross), the reasons a dog constantly licks their owner are largely harmless.
Your dog might be licking you because you taste good. If you’ve recently eaten, your dog’s keen sense of smell can detect remnants of food on your hands or face. They want a taste of whatever you just ate. Washing your hands and face thoroughly after eating will curb your dog’s instinct to lick your skin clean like you might lick your plate clean.
Dogs may also be drawn to the salt content of human sweat. If you’ve recently exercised or spent some time outside on a hot day, you’re likely covered in salty sweat residue. After you shower and change your clothes, your skin will be less appealing to your dog.
Your Dog is “Kissing” You
Your dog may be licking you in the same way they groom their friends or their puppies. Licking is a form of grooming, and your dog may be demonstrating this caretaking behavior on you as a symbol of love. It’s your dog’s way of saying thank you, and it’s similar to the way human children may express affection with hugs or kisses.
If you don’t allow your dog to lick your face and you wash the spots where your dog licked immediately afterwards, everything is likely fine. If you prefer your dog didn’t do that, apply an all natural bitter apple spray to your skin. Bitter apple spray is completely harmless, but your dog will think it tastes bad. If you’re yucky to your dog, they won’t want to taste you.
Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking the Carpet?
Watching a dog lick the carpet can be strange and perplexing. It’s difficult to imagine that such an activity would be enjoyable. The answer here often resides in what pet owners may not realize about their dog’s emotional state or a particular spot on the carpet.
Someone Spilled Food
This is the scenario that often leaves pet owners baffled. You may never see food on the carpet, and it could be because your dog has licked it up and left no detectable trace. If your dog is licking a kitchen area rug or the rug beneath the dining table, it’s likely because crumbs have made their way onto the floor. Kids and toddlers are often messy eaters, and your dog may be gathering the leftovers out of the carpet in an area where children dine or snack.
Make sure no food gets left behind on the carpet. Robotic vacuums are a convenient solution to keeping the floors clean in a busy household. Work with your children about eating politely or keeping their area clean. It often takes toddlers a while to master the motor skills necessary to eat neatly, so be patient.
Your Dog Is Distressed
Dogs sometimes lick the carpet or the furniture as a distraction or a soothing mechanism when experiencing environmental distress. In many cases, there isn’t much that dog owners can do to make the stressor disappear. You can’t control a thunderstorm or holiday fireworks. You can only keep your dog calm and distracted until the event passes.
Try soothing your dog and providing them with a productive distraction. VETCBD Hemp’s pet-safe CBD tincture works to combat environmental distress in dogs while promoting normal brain and gastrointestinal health. It will keep your dog calm without making them drowsy, allowing them to participate in activities besides stress coping mechanisms.Then, provide your dog with a puzzle toy. Puzzle toys are a fun distraction, giving your dog a form of mental stimulation that rewards them with treats for solving the toy’s challenge. These puzzles can keep your dog busy until the storm passes. Over time, your dog may associate storms with special toys and expect a fun experience rather than a distressing experience.
Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking the Air?
If your dog licks the air when you’re petting them or playing with them, this could simply be an excited gesture.
If your dog is licking the air in a seemingly unprompted way, this may be indicative of seizure activity in your dog’s brain. If it seems as though your dog is trying to catch a fly that isn’t there, this could be a focal seizure.
If you notice your dog jerking their head and randomly licking, see a veterinarian immediately. This situation is an emergency.
Licking Is Generally a Very Normal Dog Behavior
Licking is usually not anything to be concerned with, especially if it has a clear cause and can easily be remedied by cleaning up or using a safe deterrent.
If your dog’s licking behavior seems strange or has no clear cause, consult with your veterinarian.