Smart Collars



Why does my dog lick so much?

Why does my dog lick so much?

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.

Related articles
  • Health & Nutrition

    Help! My Dog is Scratching A Lot

    Your dog has been scratching a lot more often: You’ve noticed him rubbing his front paw across his nose and using his back paw to scratch behind his ears. So, what’s causing all of the dog itching?
  • Health & Nutrition

    Prepare Your Dog for Allergy Season

    Be aware of the signs of these four common causes of allergies in dogs
  • Health & Nutrition

    Smile, It’s National Pet Dental Health Month

    It’s tempting to blame dog bad breath on drinking from the toilet, snacking on kitty litter and licking fur but hellacious halitosis could also be a sign of health issues from poor oral hygiene and gum disease to diabetes, liver disease or kidney disease. 
  • Health & Nutrition

    Grab the Leash: It’s Walk Your Dog Month

    January is National Walk Your Dog Month. Leashing up your dog and going for a walk (or hike) can provide a bright spot during the coldest, shortest days of the year. Need more motivation? Here are three reasons to participate in Walk Your Dog Month:
  • Health & Nutrition

    Help: My Puppy Isn’t Eating

    3 common reasons dogs lose their appetites—and what to do about it.

  • Health & Nutrition

    How to make sure your dog stays hydrated

    Because your dog won’t always let you know when they’re parched.
  • Health & Nutrition

    4 tips to stay fit with your dog this summer

    Your dog days of summer will be happy, refreshing, and active with these 4 helpful tips
  • Health & Nutrition

    How much should you actually feed your dog?

    Here’s how to know if you’re filling the bowl too much or not enough.
  • Health & Nutrition

    Olympian lindsey jacobellis and her pup Gidget are living their healthiest life, together.

    Lindsey Jacobellis, four-time Olympian and six-time World Champion, has been snowboarding since she was 11. Not only an accomplished athlete but Lindsey, along with her pup Gidget, are also Whistle customers!
  • Health & Nutrition

    8 tips for maintaining your pet’s weight

    Help your best friend stay in peak shape with personalized fitness goals, activity tracking and more, so your pet can live their healthiest and longest life possible.
  • Health & Nutrition

    If you feed your dog the same amount all year round, read this

    The Surprising Reason For Reassessing How Much You Feed Your Dog
  • Health & Nutrition

    Tips for getting fit with your pet

    Getting fit and being healthy doesn’t mean you need to push through loads of planks and push-ups all alone. Your best bud is eager to join in.
  • Health & Nutrition

    How often should you feed your dog?

    Avoid looking directly into your dog’s begging eyes and hear what a vet has to say.
  • Health & Nutrition

    5 summertime foods that are toxic for dogs

    Don’t make eye contact with those puppy-dog eyes and avoid these foods
  • Health & Nutrition

    How we'll use filternet™ to anticipate dog health problems early on

    Whistle Labs + Pet Insight use groundbreaking tech to shape the future of pet care.
  • Health & Nutrition

    Coronavirus in dogs: what you need to know

    Many pet parents have questions about coronavirus and dogs.
    Can your dog get infected? Can a dog infect you? What should you do to keep both your pup and yourself safe and healthy?
  • Share your love of Whistle. Get a $50 gift card.

    For a limited time, when you refer a friend, they’ll get $20 off a smart device and you’ll get a $50 Amazon gift card.

    Refer a friend

    *Receive 25% off Whistle Health, Whistle Health & GPS, and Whistle Health & GPS+ while supplies last or by 07/06/22 at 11:59PM PT on Offer is nontransferable. Not valid on previous purchases, purchases of accessories, replacement parts, or shipping & handling charges. Cannot be used in conjunction with other codes. Whistle™ may modify or cancel offer at any time.


    We’re here 10am - 6:30pm EST every day.
    Phone: 1-855-999-0471