Why Do Dogs Lick Everything? Reasons For This Behavior

Why do dogs lick everything? Do you notice that your dog has been licking everything more often than usual? While it’s normal for all dogs to lick, dear Fido may be trying to tell you something by licking everything. We have 15 reasons behind this constant licking action!

The most common reason why dogs lick everything is out of compulsion or an obsessive-compulsive disorder (just like OCD with humans). They may also be expressing boredom or trying to show affection to their favorite people through licking. 

Whether it’s your face, the rug, the couch, or almost anything that’s a recipient of your dog’s licking, here are 15 reasons for this behavior to help you understand your pet better.

15. Attention Seeking Disorder

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Sometimes, licking may simply mean your pooch likes to get your attention. It could be as simple as licking your face, a piece of furniture, or anything that your pup feels like licking. And the licking may be nonstop or just momentary, too.

But instead of reprimanding your doggo for this licking action, consider stopping what you are doing and give him some attention. Scolding your pet does not help the situation and may even lead to more licking issues in the future.

14. Cleaning Syndrome

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Perhaps you have given your pup some snacks, and there are traces of that cookie on the floor. Or maybe Rover can still smell the aroma of his favorite treat in his bowl. Then, it’s understandable why your pooch is licking these things.

It is merely a sign of your pet trying to clean up these areas where food or treats once were. So, it is not at all a matter of concern and just your pup’s way of cleaning up after you.

13. Form Of Communication

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If only dogs could talk, they would tell you straight away what’s on their minds. They bark to express their feelings, but they could also lick as an attempt to communicate something with you. Perhaps they are feeling unwell, uneasy, or simply want you to spend more time with them.

Consider what it is that your pooch is trying to say. If your pup wants some cuddle time, food, or anything, and licking is its way of telling you exactly what it is, then it helps to try to understand the message.

12. Exploration

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Did you just move into a new house? Or perhaps there is a new piece of furniture that your dog is seeing for the first time? Whatever it may be, that new thing is making your pup curious and wanting to get to know it more.

When dogs lick everything, it may be their way of surveying and exploring their surroundings. They simply want to explore, so licking should not be something to take against them.

11. Nausea

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If one day your pooch has a sudden interest in licking your couch or carpet, then it may also be a sign of digestive upset or nausea. This is particularly true if you have been feeding your pup something new, which may not be agreeing with its stomach.

So, if you notice that your pet licks furniture more often than not, and you’ve recently introduced a new dog food brand or type, then this new habit may be a sign of nausea. Other signs include lethargy and loss of appetite.

10. Skin Issues

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Just like with humans, dogs may lick as a way of scratching their skin. They may be suffering from a terrible itch or rash, which is triggering this desire to lick. Thus, it is worth checking your pet’s fur and skin to see if something looks off.

Look for signs of skin issues such as inflammation, redness, swelling, and dry patches. If you notice any of these things in your pet, then it is best to contact your veterinarian for professional help.

9. Anxiety Or Stress

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Dogs get anxious or stressed, too, and sometimes, licking is their way to relieve these things. They may be licking blankets and carpets, which is a sign of anxiety in canines. It is particularly true if there are situations that may be triggering the stress.

Environmental stressors cause excessive licking in dogs. Perhaps your young pup has been separated from its mom too soon, which is the reason for anxiety and excessive licking.

8. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

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In the case of elderly dogs, excessive licking may signal cognitive dysfunction. It is kind of like Alzheimer’s Disorder with humans. This is why you may notice your pooch repeating the behavior constantly.

General confusion and reduced ability to remember and follow commands are signs that coincide with cognitive dysfunction among canines. So, if you observe these behaviors alongside the constant licking, it may be worth consulting your vet about what can be done.

7. Comfort

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Cats are not the only animals that love to groom themselves – dogs do it, too, and they love it! Licking is a sign of comfort, which they get from giving themselves good grooming. 

When dogs lick themselves, this releases endorphins that add to the feel-good state they are in. So, as a way of obtaining comfort, they lick and groom themselves constantly. It’s like giving themselves a good massage!

6. Soothe Themselves

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There are instances when dogs would lick just one thing, such as their toys or blanket or anything they are particularly fond of. If this is the case, it is a sign of soothing themselves, especially after being separated from this object for a while.

Canines find comfort in things that are familiar to them. So, if they are suddenly licking their toys, it should not pose any deep and concerning issue. It merely brings calm and peace to your pooch.

5. Dietary Problems

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Some pups are particularly sensitive to soy, corn, starches, and other food triggers. If this is the case with your pet, then you may find Scruffy licking everything after meals. It is a sign of gastrointestinal discomfort in your pooch.

If you are introducing something new to your pet’s diet, or there is an allergen in the food, it is best to pay close attention to your dog’s reaction to it. This way, you can eliminate the trigger and resolve this constant licking situation relating to dietary concerns.

4. Pain

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When your pet is experiencing pain either from arthritis or an injury, you may notice a constant licking. It is reminiscent of a human rubbing a sore or throbbing muscle. The licking is a way of relieving the pain, even if it is a strange surface and not its fur.

Check for other symptoms associated with pain in dogs, such as limping, sore muscles or joints, and the like. If you notice that something is off with your pet, then you may need to contact your vet for medical attention.

3. Show Affection

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Just as mama pups lick and groom their young ones, some pooches feel the desire to lick their favorite humans. So, if you find your pup licking you often or your shirt, or anything associated with you, it only means they like you.

Your pup shows affection by licking. In this case, you may want to show love right back at them by giving them a big hug, a cuddle, or patting them. They will surely love the gesture.

2. Boredom

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Boredom may also be another trigger for constant licking. If you have left your pooch by itself for hours, then feelings of boredom and anxiety must set in. This is why they may be licking everything – furniture, carpet, you name it.

Consider spending more time with your pooch to beat the boredom away. Take your Fido out for a walk, play a game of fetch, or let your pet run around in the yard to knock that boredom out.

1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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And lastly, dogs lick everything as a sign of compulsive behavior. They may be licking the same thing over and over or just about anything your pet sees. If so, it is best to determine the root of compulsion to get the behavior addressed appropriately.

There may be underlying reasons behind the compulsion, such as fear, anxiety, stress, or boredom. It is best to identify the culprit by noticing any triggers for the licking and getting the issue straightened out without reprimanding your pooch for it.

Are Dog Licks Really Kisses? Dog licks can be a sign of affection or may also be your pet’s way of communicating something with you, such as anxiety, boredom, or stress. But there is a possibility that your dog is licking you to express love and affection, especially if your pooch is particularly close to you.

Should I Lick My Dog? No, you should never lick your dog. Canines have a different way of communicating with humans, so if you lick them, it may only create confusion and anxiety.

How Do I Make My Dog Stop Licking Everything? It is best to determine the reason behind licking. If it is boredom, then play with your dog or take him out for a walk. But if licking is a sign of pain, it is best to get medical attention for your pet to relieve the discomfort.

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Pete Decker