Why Is Your Dog Licking Excessively?
3 October, 2016
We love when our dogs lick us to say hello or simply to clean themselves after a good meal! Licking is really a part of your dogs’ daily routine and each dog licks for different reasons. But when the licking becomes excessive, it can become detrimental for your dog.
There are many reasons why your dog might be licking excessively:
Grooming can be compulsive if it is done too often by your dog
Most of the time, repetitive paw licking is part of a dog’s typical grooming routine. A good rule of thumb is to first try to pinpoint everyday triggers for paw licking. As an example, if your dog has just come inside and licks her paws for a few minute, she is most likely exhibiting completely normal grooming behaviors. It’s the dogs who lick endlessly without any external trigger or who lick to the point of self-injury that may indicate a medical or behavioral condition.
Anxiety is a trigger for excessive licking
When dogs lick compulsively, it’s not unlike the nervous habits we humans’ exhibit regularly, including nail biting or knee bouncing. Licking releases endorphins: mood-altering brain chemicals that sooth your pup and make him feel happy or take the edge off of a stressful situation. For example, a dog rescued from a stressful living situation or whose home life has since improved may continue to demonstrate the same ticks that he developed as an earlier coping mechanism.
Skin irritations can cause your dog to lick too much
Constant paw and feet licking can be a symptom of allergic reactions to irritants or something consumed orally. A condition from too much licking is called lick granuloma and is when the vicious cycle of a dog’s habitual licking causes irritation, often with exposed welts or raw skin where hair has been abrasively removed through licking. It is a neurological condition that is from stress, anxiety or even boredom.
Your dog might be licking excessively because he’s bored!
Your dog’s excessive licking can be caused simply by boredom. Make sure that your dog has plenty of toys and when he or she tries to lick his paws, give him a chew to instead. Your dog also needs to get daily exercise which will tire your dog out and stop the licking. If the licking has already started, to avoid further irritation, make sure to gently wash your pooch’s paws in warm water after walking outside.
Dry skin can cause excessive licking
Winter weather or other climate changes and lack of fatty acids in your dogs’ diet can cause dry skin in dogs. Your dog may respond to the discomfort by scratching or licking at her skin or fur. Add some Omega 3 or fatty acids to your dogs’ diet to see if that helps. Thyroid hormone imbalance can also cause excessive licking.
Pain can cause your dog to lick excessively at one area
Your dog might be licking a certain spot because he or she is in pain. If you notice your dog biting his paw repeatedly, he could have a thorn or sharp stone stuck in his foot pad. Compulsive chewing or licking can also be a response to orthopedic problems, including back pain and hip dysplasia.
As always, if you can’t find the trigger or if your dog continues to lick excessively, make sure to consult your veterinarian to make sure it isn’t from a medical condition.