We all know “dogs lick their owners” as we have grown up watching a number of dog cartoons where characters like Pluto used to lick their Mickey Mouse-like owners immensely, so as to show a sign of affection, which is kind of really sweet. But what does it mean when a dog licks the floor? Why do they do that?
Dogs usually lick the floor to seek their owner’s attention when there is no one to play with and they are extremely bored. They can lick floors in search of tiny food particles as well. If your pooch has recently adapted this habit and licks the floor repeatedly multiple times in a single day, then there can be so many tons of reasons behind this natural dog behavior, including serious health concerns.
Before going into all this, I will get you guys to understand that floor licking once in a while is not a big deal by giving you a clear picture of how extremely this licking behavior is common and natural in the world of dogs.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Lick The Floor?
It’s totally normal for the dogs to lick the floor while hanging out here and there inside the house, or even while lying down. They might be just bored, finding some pieces of their favorite treats, or might be trying to seek your attention.
Things like loyalty and a cute licking face always come up in our minds whenever we think of little furry pooches. In fact, at least, animal species like dogs cannot be imagined without a licking behavior as this is how they show their affection and loyalty which they are actually known for.
But that’s not the only thing, there can be two more significant reasons behind why dog breeds lick everything, besides the one we know i.e. a way of showing affection.
- Their curiosity and investigating nature
- The fact that a dog’s saliva is antibacterial, and the tongue serves as a cleaning wipe
This is why you see your pooch licking her body every so often as they are not licking, but attempting to keep their wounds and genitals bacteria-free.
Their investigating nature, on the other hand, is one of the reasons why a dog tends to smell and lick the floor of your house. Here I have discussed other reasons why dogs normally lick the floor (where you don’t need to worry), in detail!
Your Furry Buddy Wants To Spend Time With You
Imagine your pooch enters the living room where you are already doing some work, comes close to you, lies down on the floor, keeps watching you and your work, and after a while, sadly starts licking the floor on not getting the expected response.
Doesn’t this sound like there is no one to play with your pooch and she is actually trying to make some efforts in order to get your precious attention?
It actually happens most of the time and is one of the reasons why our pooches simply undergo this behavior. We can say that,
Just like the way fidos tend to lick our faces to show their affection, they can lick floors to get our attention!
Your Fido Is Hungry Or Thirsty
Dogs can also lick the floor because they are hungry or thirsty. This is, fortunately, quite a normal behavior that we do not need to worry about!
It’s possible that you just forget to serve the meal or the water bowl to your buddy. Therefore, they are licking the floor obsessively as licking helps to calm them.
Well, this actually happens rarely. Dogs generally sniff and find tiny food particles of their favorite treats using this licking behavior all around the house, even if they have already taken their meals properly at the fixed time.
This can also be limited only to a specific part of the house, like the kitchen or kids’ eating area as they easily get so much to eat every time they get into those areas.
Other than all this, it is also possible that your dog might be just exploring a new kind of smell or something that seems strange to them by using these smelling and licking senses.
Doing so once in a while is totally fine, however, do not let your pooch explore insects and other chemicals that can be toxic to them.
Your Pooch Has Stayed Bored For A Long Time
The last possible reason why your dog might be licking the tile or floor of your house can be their boredom!
Most dog breeds do not like being alone for a long time. Likewise, most dogs do not like skipping their exercise sessions. This is all because dogs are people-oriented animal species and boredom tends to make them sad, eventually leading to the behaviors that they need to do to calm themselves, i.e., licking.
So, if your pooch is licking obsessively, then they might have stayed bored for a long time. You can easily handle this situation yourself by providing regular exercise and engaging them in mental stimulation toys.
Pro Tip: Handle the situation as soon as possible, because your pooch can get habitual to this behavior which will become overwhelming later on.
Well, you don’t need to worry about the three reasons discussed as they are pretty common and natural.
However, if your pooch starts licking the floor all of a sudden when it usually does not, it can signal an extremely concerning issue with their mental health. We will explore that in a bit, but first, let’s take a look at the other extreme, where your dog constantly licks the floor.
Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking The Floor Or Carpet?
A dog tends to lick the floor or carpet constantly when she experiences separation anxiety or stress. This is also possible if the pooch is suffering from psychological things like a change in routine or in its living environment.
We all are now aware of the fact that infrequent licking behavior is just natural and normal in the world of dogs.
But, at the same time, if the pooch is licking the floor while having tired eyes, a sad face, laziness, and an inactive mood, then there can be something strange that you need to check on. You will need to take a consultation with your vet as soon as possible to get your pooch out of this frustrating situation.
Here I have discussed potential causes that lead to this abnormal licking in detail, so you will always take precautions in the very first place!
Separation anxiety is one of the reasons why dogs lick floors frantically. This anxiety can also be a result of long and continuous boredom that your pooch might be experiencing for so long.
If you always find yourself tied to a busy routine and frequently leave your buddy home alone, then separation anxiety is the most possible reason behind your pooch’s obsessive floor-licking.
Separation anxiety, if not treated or fixed at an early stage, can lead to destructive behavioral problems like chewing on furniture, scratching the doors or walls, and incessant digging in your furry buddy.
It can also lead to a disorder, namely pica, in which the pooch tends to lick and eat dirty and smelly stuff.
Anxiety can be easily identified by the movement of your fido’s ears. The floppy ones go towards the back and the short ears tend to become flat or erect.
These signs will help you understand whether the reason behind your pooch’s licking is anxiety. Still, prefer not to leave them alone unless they are properly kept engaged in interesting activities, in your absence.
Continuous licking of the floor can be a sign of stress. Your pooch might be scared or threatened by something in the backyard or outside around the neighbor’s house. A very loud noise or a sudden death of a close person can also stress your furry buddy.
During these situations, pooches could be seen licking floors more than usual as licking helps to calm these little furry animals, as mentioned previously.
In such cases, what you can do for your pooch is listed below:
- Try to find and remove the threatening object.
- Engage your buddy in physical activities.
- Relax them and try to make them happy every so often.
Change In Routine Or Environment
Another possible reason why your pooch is licking frantically and behaving differently is “change”!
Whether it is a change in their routine, your routine, relocation, rehoming, or simply a re-arrangement of your home’s furniture, your pooches will get sad. They would consequently be seen lying down and licking the tiles alone in some corner of your house.
If this reason is the one behind “your” pooch’s licking habit, try to get things back to normal and avoid changing your pet’s routine unless it’s really necessary. Try keeping them happy as much as possible!
Pro Tip: To differentiate the serious licking case from the normal one, try distracting your pooch every time they get busy with this licking behavior. If you succeed easily, or even by making too much effort, continue making efforts, and you’ll eventually turn your pooch back to normal.
I have also provided a long list of ideas and so much advice on how you can get your pooch to stop licking the floor down below in this article. But before that, let’s take a look at a serious floor-licking case where you might need to have an immediate trip to the vet with your fido!
What Does It Mean When A Dog All Of A Sudden Starts Licking The Floor?
If your pooch starts licking the floor obsessively all of a sudden, then your furry buddy is certainly in pain and is experiencing some serious kind of issue. This can include health concerns like gastrointestinal problems, oral pain, infections, and allergies.
Until now, we knew that obsessive licking is a habit that develops as a result of a dog’s continuous anxiety, boredom, stress, and other things, where you simply apply your self-treatment most of the time.
This obsession in licking is often medically termed as ELS behavior, or excessive licking of surfaces. It will be only considered a habit if your pooch develops it over a period of time.
However, if your furry buddy experiences it all of a sudden, there is something really serious behind your pooch’s floor-licking. In other words, it is a sign of serious health concern!
You cannot depend on self-treatment this time. Moreover, if your pooch is also panting, barking, making different low and loud sounds, coughing, and drooling heavily, along with that obsessive licking behavior, take an urgent trip to the vet, immediately!
Here I have discussed different causes of your pooch’s “sudden” obsessive licking of a floor, in detail.
Gastrointestinal disorder is the most common underlying health concern that develops obsessive licking in our pooches.
According to a clinical study at University Montreal Veterinary Teaching Hospital, 14 out of 19 dogs with ELS behavior were believed to have underlying gastrointestinal problems.
These problems that your furry buddy with ELS behavior might be suffering from generally include giardia, chronic pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastroparesis.
Fidos not only lick floors frantically but also tend to lick other home stuff when gastrointestinal disorder gets to become the underlying cause of their ELS. The possible home stuff can be room furniture, walls, carpets, etc.
The common symptoms you can notice generally include, drooling, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and definitely, obsessive floor licking. Visit your vet as soon as possible when noticing these symptoms. This can be an emergency as your furry buddy is experiencing a painful condition!
Oral problems can be another major underlying cause of this floor-licking behavior in our pooches.
Your furry buddy might be suffering from dental disease, having any kind of mouth injury, having pain in teeth or gums, or something might have stuck between your fido’s teeth. In such conditions, pooches undergo excessive drooling, licking, and get super uncomfortable.
Brush your fido’s teeth 2 to 3 times every week and get her teeth cleaned professionally once every year to protect your buddy from oral diseases.
Other than all these, neurological problems, behavioral issues, or mental illnesses like obsessive-compulsive disorder can also cause your pooch to lick the floor obsessively. This, however, rarely happens, and an example of “change in the nervous system” we commonly tend to see in pooches is the “aging process.”
Pro Tip: When there are no significant symptoms along with an obsessive licking of the floor, do make attempts to distract your buddy while she is busy licking the floor. This will help you differentiate between normal ELS habits and ELS due to underlying medical conditions.
How Can I Get My Pooch To Stop Licking The Floor?
You can stop your pooch’s obsessive floor licking with the help of things like exercise, behavior modification techniques, training and rewards, entertainment, socialization, environmental change, relaxation, and other interesting DIY ideas.
This is only possible if your dog’s obsessive licking is just a developed habit and doesn’t link to any kind of medical condition. Try finding out the root problem that’s causing ELS in your pooch’s body so that you understand things clearly and know what you need to do next.
Pro Tip: You generally need to visit the vet only when your pooch’s floor-licking is a sudden behavior or if it comes along with other things like drooling, panting, barking, and coughing, additionally.
Now, here I’m listing down a number of ideas that will help you stop your pooch’s messy and annoying licking behavior, yourself.
- Get your pooch brain-stimulating toys and spend some time with her.
- Do not leave your furry buddy alone by itself. Try keeping her among people as much as possible.
- Take them outside often, either to the park or any other interesting area, and play different games.
- Exercising sessions should not be skipped at all. Let your pooch exercise for 30 to 60 minutes every day.
- Arrange a pet-socialization session along with your friends and let your fido socialize and hang out with other little furry animals.
- Get help with commands and treats. Use the command “stop licking” when they get busy with licking behavior and reward them as soon as they stop.
- Try making the home environment stress-free and peaceful by avoiding shouting and fights, playing a piece of really soft music, and by doing other different things. You can also consult an animal behaviorist.
- Spray lemon juice or hot sauce (not that hot) onto the areas where your pooch usually heads to enjoy a floor-licking session.
- Get some calming products for your fido. The product can be anxiety toys, cuddler beds, calming bites, calming sound speakers, anxiety-free blankets, and much more. We recommend the Thundershirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket. It applies gentle pressure to help regulate the dog’s breathing when worn. This keeps its anxiety in check without your intervention.
Try providing your furry buddy extra love during their difficult times. Stay with your fido 24/7, or try to keep her entertained every single hour, as there shouldn’t be any chance for your buddy to become bored and, consequently, continue again that messy floor-licking.
If you cannot do this all yourself, behavior modification techniques by professionals or professional training can also help your pooch get rid of this behavior. Or, simply just go and explain everything to your vet and get a consultation!
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