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Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves?


If it seems like your dog constantly has their tongue out, that’s because they do. For dogs, licking is an important utility. It’s a way to groom and to communicate. Dogs lick themselves, each other, and their human family members for many reasons. In most cases, this behavior is perfectly healthy and normal. 

Why Is My Dog Licking Himself?

Dogs lick themselves for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they’re just taking care of themselves. If the licking seems excessive, you might want to give your dog a little bit of an at-home exam to make sure their skin is healthy and they’re free from fleas. 

As a Grooming Behavior

Dogs like to keep themselves clean. The closest they can do to giving themselves a bath is a quick grooming session with their tongues. 

If your dog is excessively or thoroughly grooming, it’s time to give them a legitimate bath. If your dog is very dirty, setting up a kiddie pool outside may be a better option than attempting to bathe your dog indoors. 

To Remove Fleas

Fleas leave your dog itchy and uncomfortable. Your dog may be licking or chewing in an effort to remove fleas and their eggs. 

If you spot a flea on your dog, you should treat the situation seriously. Every animal in the house should be thoroughly treated for fleas. Bedding should be laundered, and carpets should be cleaned. Many pet owners use food grade diatomaceous earth to control fleas on their carpets and rugs. 

As a Response to Wounds or Skin Conditions

Wounds and irritated skin are uncomfortable. Your dog may be licking them to soothe them. Dogs with seasonal allergies will often develop dry, rough, or irritated patches underneath their coat. 

If your dog tends to lick a particular spot, give that spot a better look. Minor skin irritations can be managed with natural soothing balms and skin protectants, much like you would do for yourself if you were in the same situation. Open wounds require the care of a veterinarian. 

To Massage Achy Joints

If your dog’s joints ache, they likely want a massage. They can’t give themselves a massage, so they’ll settle for the stimulation that comes from licking the joint. 

If you believe your dog is experiencing joint pain, take your dog to the vet. The vet can evaluate your dog for conditions like canine arthritis.

While you’re there, ask your vet about using CBD topicals to massage your dog’s achy joints. CBD, when used in conjunction with other holistic wellness practices, can help to support overall joint mobility in pets. 

Why Does My Dog Lick Me?

Dogs tend to lick the people they love. Some pet owners would prefer that their dogs kept their tongues to themselves. Other pet owners are willing to tolerate the behavior because they understand its significance to their dog. 

It’s a Way to Say “I Love You”

Some pet owners refer to licks from their dog as kisses. They’re not too far off. Dogs sometimes groom their owners as a sign of affection, placing the behavior in the same realm as hugs or kisses from humans to humans. 

When your dog affectionately licks you, that means they’ve accepted you into their hardwired idea of family. You’re a valued pack member and your dog wants to make sure you’re taken care of. 

Your Skin Tastes Good

Dogs have a tendency to lick peoples’ hands after they’ve eaten something tasty, especially if it’s a food dogs wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to have. Your dog may be after the residual seasoning from the potato chips or popcorn you’ve just enjoyed. 

Some dogs will lick human skin because they crave the salty residue of sweat. The salt in your sweat isn’t enough to be harmful to your pet. It’s merely an interesting flavor that your dog finds enjoyable. You might personally feel a little yucky after a long workout, but to your dog, you’re at your most delicious. 

Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other?

Dogs frequently communicate with each other. Since they don’t quite have spoken language, gestures like licking are used to communicate messages to their young and to their friends. 

Mothers Groom Their Pups

Mother dogs go to great lengths to care for their pups. Mama will groom babies to keep them clean, stimulate them, and bond with them. She’ll continue to do this until the babies are old enough to care for themselves. It isn’t unusual for a mother dog and her pup to form a lifelong bond if they live in the same household. 

Dogs Care for Each Other

Every dog plays a unique role in a social structure. This is where the term “alpha dog” comes from. Some dogs are slightly more submissive, and licking or grooming another dog can be interpreted as an act of submission. 

Dogs that are naturally subservient may feel more inclined to lick or nurture all other animals around them. 

If your dog licks or grooms your cat and your cat responds affectionately, they’re forming a friendly bond and a silent pact that they’re looking out for each other. 

Why Does My Dog Lick the Furniture or the Floor?

Dogs often lick furniture or the floor because their excellent sense of smell is telling them delicious food was spilled there. Dogs can expertly locate crumbs in the carpet. Check the area where your dog is licking the floor or the furniture, especially if young children or other messy eaters routinely have meals in that area. 

If your dog is licking the floor or the furniture and there is no sign of food crumbs, it’s possible that your dog is licking as a stress response. Is it storming outside? Are there fireworks going off? Are there a bunch of people visiting? 

Changes in the environment can produce symptoms of environmental distress. Scratching, pacing, panting, and hiding can also be indicative of environmental distress. You know your dog. If you can tell that their behavior suggests that something is bothering them, take steps to keep your dog calm until the distressing event reaches its conclusion.

Why Does My Dog Lick the Air?

If you’ve been attempting to prevent your dog from licking people or objects, licking the air may be the safe compromise they’ve found. They’re still licking, but they aren’t licking anything they may be reprimanded for. 

Dogs sometimes lick the air when they smell something tasty or interesting. If your neighbor has the barbecue grill going, your dog might be catching a whiff of burgers through the window. They know they won’t be offered a serving, and licking the delicious aroma from the air is the best they’ve got. 

Licking Is Natural as Long as Your Dog Is Healthy and Calm

There are few scenarios where licking requires a trip to the vet. In most cases, dogs are simply engaging in a natural behavior they use to explore the world around them. 

VETCBD Hemp’s American-grown CBD tincture can help to naturally promote a calmer mood while your pup rides out the storm.



Why Do Dogs Love Humans? It’s In Their Genes, Study Shows | Study Finds

Getting Rid of Fleas | CDC

Managing Canine Arthritis | American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation

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