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Why does my dog lick so much?

June 15, 2022
3 minute read
Why does my dog lick so much? - Whistle

Have you ever wondered, “Why does my dog lick so much?”

Licking is a normal behavior: Dogs lick their food bowls, run their tongues across the floor looking for crumbs and drop slobbery kisses on their favorite people. But excessive dog licking could be a sign of health problems.

Fortunately, dog licking is one of the behaviors that Whistle devices like the Whistle Health, Health & GPS, and Health & GPS+ tracks, sending proactive alerts about potential issues and the Ask a Vet feature included with every Whistle subscription can connect you with a vet who can diagnose the cause and help address obsessive dog licking.

Why do dogs lick so much?

There are several reasons your dog may be constantly licking:

  • Joint pain: Dogs often lick areas that feel painful. If you notice that your dog is constantly licking at their joints, including their elbows, wrists and knees, it could be a sign of joint pain.
  • Skin irritations: Dry skin and food allergies can cause itchy skin and licking is one way for your dog to soothe those irritated areas. Parasites like fleas and ticks can also lead dogs to lick obsessively to relieve the itch.
  • Stress: Licking is a repetitive behavior that could signal that your dog is stressed. Stress-related licking is often associated with specific triggers like thunderstorms, loud noises or separation anxiety.
  • Boredom: Some dogs lick themselves because there is nothing else to do. Extreme boredom can lead to excessive dog licking, which could cause health issues like hair loss and hot spots.

Once you identify the potential reasons why your dog is constantly licking, it’s time to figure out how to get your dog to stop licking you (and everything else).

  • Offer a distraction: If dogs are licking out of boredom or stress, redirecting their attention toward a positive behavior can help. Chew toys and food puzzles are great distractions that will allow your dog to channel their energy.
  • Exercise can also help burn off excess energy, alleviate stress and boredom, and help your dog feel calm, which should cut down on obsessive licking.
  • Step away: Some dogs obsessively lick their owners. A few kisses are ok but constant licking that leaves you wondering, “why does my dog lick me so much?” is a problem. The next time your dog starts licking you, step away. Your retreat sends the message that it’s an unwelcome behavior.
  • Call the vet: Not only can excessive licking have a medical cause, the behavior can cause hot spots, lick dermatitis and even infections if the underlying cause isn’t treated. To address excessive licking, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an evaluation.

Not only do the Whistle HealthHealth & GPS, and Health & GPS+ track licking behavior and alert you when it increases, the Ask a Vet feature available with your Whistle plan connects you with a veterinarian for a chat, call, video or email consult to address the issue.

In addition to the treatment that your vet prescribes, you might need to get an e-collar or basket muzzle to prevent excessive licking and skin damage.

Tracking excessive dog licking behavior, understanding potential causes and taking steps to address the behavior will help your dog (and you) feel better.

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