How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Excessively
Dogs are affectionate animals, and they often show their love through different gestures such as licking. However, excessive licking can be a sign of underlying health issues or behavioral problems that should be addressed. If your dog is licking excessively, it is important to recognize the cause and take the necessary steps to address the matter.
Why do Dogs Lick?
Dogs lick for several reasons, and it can imply different things depending on the context. Here are some possible reasons why dogs lick:
- Dogs may express their love and affection by licking their owners or other dogs.
- Licking can be a way for dogs to communicate with humans or other dogs. It can be a way of saying hello or asking for attention.
- Dogs employ their sense of taste to investigate their surroundings, often using their tongue to lick objects or surfaces to gather information about them.
- Dogs groom themselves by licking their fur to remove dirt and debris.
- Licking serves as a self-soothing mechanism for dogs to calm themselves or aid in the healing of wounds.
Overall, licking is a natural behavior for dogs, and it can serve a variety of functions. However, excessive licking may be a sign of an underlying health issue or anxiety. So, to ensure the well-being of your dog, it is important to pay attention to their behavior and seek advice from a veterinarian if you detect any alterations or issues.
Excessive licking can be a problem for dogs when it becomes compulsive or causes physical harm to the dog or its environment. Here are some situations where excessive licking may be a problem:
The presence of redness, swelling, or infection on a dog’s skin after licking may indicate an underlying medical condition or allergy.
Anxiety or stress
Dogs may lick excessively when they are feeling anxious or stressed. In some cases, this behavior may progress to a compulsive state, where the dog continues to lick persistently despite the potential for harm.
Boredom or frustration
Dogs may also lick excessively if they are bored or frustrated. This can be a sign that they are not getting enough exercise, mental stimulation, or social interaction.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Excessive licking in dogs can sometimes indicate symptoms of OCD, causing repetitive and ritualistic behavior that can impede the dog’s daily life.
If your dog is licking a specific area of their body, it could be a sign of pain or discomfort in that area. They may be licking to try to alleviate the discomfort.
Excessive licking in dogs can be a sign of digestive problems, such as an upset stomach or acid reflux.
Ways to Stop Dogs from Licking
There are a few ways to stop your dog from excessive licking.
Have the Vet Examine Them
If you dog suddenly starts licking excessively, it is important to bring them to the vet for an examination. The vet will be able to detect any underlying medical conditions that could be causing excessive licking. For instance, allergies, skin infections, or other health issues may cause your dog to lick excessively. Once the underlying cause is identified, you can work with your vet to treat the condition.
Keep Your Dog Mentally Stimulated
Dogs that are bored or anxious may resort to excessive licking as a coping method. Offering ample opportunities for physical activity and cognitive engagement to your canine can alleviate their anxiousness and deter them from engaging in excessive licking behavior. Regular walks, games, and puzzles are great ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically active.
Train Your Dog
Training your dog is an effective way to stop excessive licking behavior. Teach your dog basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” To redirect your dog’s attention when it starts licking, you can use certain commands, such as the “sit” command. For instance, if your dog begins to lick too much, using the “sit” command can serve as a distraction.
Teaching your dog, a “leave it” command can be very useful in preventing excessive licking. When your dog starts licking excessively, use the “leave it” command to redirect their attention. With the aid of a reward, such as a toy or treat, you can capture your dog’s focus and reinforce their compliance with commands. If you train them consistently, your dog will eventually be able to cease excessive licking when instructed.
Discourage the Licking Using Bitter Tastes
If your dog is licking a specific area excessively, you can use a bitter spray or cream to discourage them from licking. It is essential to use a safe, non-toxic spray or cream that dogs can tolerate because these products have a bitter taste that can discourage them from licking.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a great way to encourage good behavior in your dog. Rewarding your dog with treats, praise, or affection when they stop excessively licking reinforces the good behavior and motivates them to continue it in the future.
Ensure Your Dog is Hydrated
Your dog may lick excessively due to dehydration, so it is important to make sure that clean and fresh water is always available to them. You can also provide hydrating treats or fruits such as watermelon or cucumbers to keep your dog hydrated.
Excessive licking in dogs can be a sign of underlying health or behavioral issues. However, by taking the necessary measures with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can assist your dog in stopping excessive licking and maintaining good health and behavior.
If your dog is licking excessively near Manchester, NH, contact Best Friends Animal Hospital by calling 603-625-2378. Our veterinarians will give your dog the best care.