As a pooch parent, I can relate to just how annoying it is when those friendly furballs sit at the end of the bed and lick at night. Loudly. Or next to you, on the couch during the day. Loudly. It’s one of the very worst noises to come from our favorite four-legged friends if you ask me, but it does serve a purpose. Why do dogs lick everything? Let’s find out.
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- Why Do Dogs Lick Everything
- Why Is My Dog Licking Everything at Night
- Why Do Dogs Lick Everything Outside vs Inside
- Why Do Dogs Lick Specific Things
Why Do Dogs Lick Everything
I’m sorry to break it to you, folks, but dogs lick. It’s what they do. All day long. All night long. They do it for several important reasons, including washing themselves. It’s a built-in, biological action, so your pooch can’t help it when they keep you awake half the night with the incessant slurping noise. If you check your pet camera during the day, when you’re not at home, you’ll see your dog licking then, too.
Dogs use their tongue, mouth, sense of smell, and sense of taste to work things out. It’s an important action for:
- Communication with other dogs;
- Emotional communication with humans;
- Getting attention;
- Expressing submissiveness;
- Underlying medical conditions;
- Saying hello.
Mothers will lick their pups to comfort and show emotion, as well as to encourage the pups’ toilet activity. Dogs will also lick things that taste or smell nice, especially sweaty skin. Some dogs love the salty taste, like Frank the British Bulldog.
Some dogs may lick excessively when they are anxious or stressed. New environments, noises, or other animals can trigger this behavior. They might also engage in excessive licking if they are bored or are not getting enough mental and physical stimulation.
Read more: Why Is Your Dog Licking Lips All The Time?
Why Is My Dog Licking Everything at Night
We don’t usually associate dogs with the type of cleanliness that cats display, but they’re pretty hygienic and clean. Well, some of them are. When they lick themselves at night, they’re essentially having a before-bed shower. Watch them for a few minutes, I bet you’ll see them moving from one area of the body to another.
If your dog is licking you at night, it could mean several things, including:
- Attempting to wake you;
- Begging for food;
- Expressing love;
- Feeling anxious;
- Cuddling you in their doggy way.
Believe it or not, humans don’t know everything about dogs. There’s some debate on what licking things does or invokes, and The American Kennel Club study suggests that it is a submissive act, borne from the days of wild dogs in packs.
It’s important to keep an eye on your dog if they’re displaying odd or increased licking behavior. It could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that has not yet been spotted and/or diagnosed. Asthma, allergies, injuries, depression, anxiety, stress, and foreign objects can all cause excessive licking.
Read more: Why is My Dog Licking Paws?
Why Do Dogs Lick Everything Outside vs Inside
Taking your dog outside means introducing them to a wide range of new things, many of which they will process using their nose and mouth. Smell and taste are connected for dogs in much the same way they are for humans. It’s why many of us can’t taste what we’re eating or drinking when we’re full of germs. Because of the connection, dogs will often lick and sniff together to investigate and make sense of something.
If the licking becomes a problem, consider implementing basic obedience training. Teach commands like "leave it" or "no licking" to redirect your dog's behavior. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward good behavior, and keep an eye on your rascal pets while you’re not physically at home. Interactive pet cameras allow you to repeat the “no” command when you see the bad behavior from afar.
Read more: Reasons Your Dog Keeps Licking Their Butt
Why Do Dogs Lick Specific Things
When your dog licks your hands after you’ve petted another dog on your way home from work, they’re trying to figure out where and why you cheated on them. (Jokes, but not really.) If they’re licking an empty bowl of food, they’re probably hungry; if they’re licking an empty water bowl, you should fill that bowl.
Dogs are also a lot like children: whatever they find, they put it in their mouths or lick it. They might get drawn to a sweet smell, a specific color, or for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Choo, the cat, licks my bedroom doorframe. Frank the dog licks his toes and the carpet.
Licking might be a perfectly normal thing for your dog to do, but it can sometimes get them into a lot of trouble. Plants, medication, something funky outside – they’re all potential vectors of disease or, at the very least, tummy trouble. Blue-green algae are deadly for dogs, as are salt, alcohol, foods containing xylitol, rodent poison, antifreeze, rhododendrons (yes, the flower), lilies of the valley, daffodils, lilies, pollen, and many more, all of which are incredibly dangerous, even in small amounts.
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I’m going to share a few final tips before we end today. Every little helps when you’re in a pet potential emergency, right? Always ensure that your dog is properly hydrated and fed before walks. Sometimes, licking surfaces excessively can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency.
If the behavior persists or gets worse, it's always a good idea to consult with a professional dog trainer or a veterinarian for personalized advice based on your dog's specific needs and circumstances. Why not have a chat with one of Petcube’s friendly vets? They have literally all the answers.
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