For most fur parents, we understand the main reason why our beloved dogs lick their paws is to keep them clean. But, is the story the same if they lick the feet of their fur parents? Does it mean that they find our feet dirty that’s why they lick them, too?
Dogs lick our feet as a way to get our attention, amongst many other possible reasons. Sometimes, your dogs lick your feet just to express their love for you; other times your dog would like to clean your wound on your feet by licking it.
To have a better understanding of the behaviors of our pooches, we’d be talking more about the reasons why our dogs lick our feet. If you are bothered by this behavior, we will share with you some tips on how to stop your dog from doing it.
Why Is My Dog Obsessed With My Feet?
Your dog’s obsession with your feet is a submissive gesture. In the eyes of your pooch, you are the king or the queen of the household and it wants you to know that it is respecting and honoring your stature.
Licking the bottom of your feet is also your dog’s way to get information from you. Remember that the olfactory system of your dog is more sophisticated than yours. It will know if you just went to the park without tagging it along. It can smell the last food you had. In short, smelling your feet is one way it gets information about your latest whereabouts.
Let’s now dig into the other positive reasons as to why your dog is obsessed with your feet.
Your Feet Taste Nice
Did you just engage in your favorite sports activity? That means that your feet are all sweaty which your fido definitely finds irresistible. The salt from your sweat can be likened to the taste of pizza that your fido finds tasty, salty, and delicious.
Your Dog Wants Your Undivided Attention
Your fido will do all sorts of tricks to get your full attention. Licking for attention has its roots in the past. Mother dogs will lick their young to encourage peeing and pooping, in the same manner as puppies lick the snouts of their mothers to stimulate a reflex, which will make their mothers regurgitate food that they have eaten.
And, when morning comes and you’re still asleep, your pooch licks your feet as an invitation to take it out for its bathroom rituals and also a signal that it wants to play with you, a subtler version of play bow.
Your Dog Wants To Clean Your Wound
When your dog has an infection, it will use its tongue to clean and soothe the affected area. Since your fido loves you, wouldn’t it make sense if it will also clean or lick your wound, say, an infected toe to hasten the healing process? It is your dog’s way of taking care of you.
Why Do Dogs Lick People’s Feet And Toes?
Apart from the positive reasons that we have discussed earlier, there are also negative reasons why your dog licks your feet and that of other people. For all you know, there might be an underlying health medical or behavioral issue.
Let’s take a closer look at these issues now.
Your Dog Is Underfed And Thirsty
While there may be physical manifestations of malnutrition, licking your feet is one of the subtle signs that you are underfeeding your fido. Your dog may think that the salt from your feet will provide it with nutrients that its body lacks.
Does your fido also have access to clean water 24/7? If none, thirsty and dehydrated dogs tend to lick their humans including the feet and toes to combat dry mouth, tongue, and throat. This is because licking stimulates the salivary glands of dogs.
Your Dog Is Anxious
Even though it seems like your fido is living a stress-free life, still, there are some occasions when it goes through a bout of anxiety episodes. Licking people’s feet and even those of babies is a form of coping with stress.
The licking action is supposed to release a feel-good hormone known as endorphins that can make dogs feel calmer and relaxed. So, in this case, licking people’s feet becomes a pacifier for dogs.
Your Dog Is Not Feeling Well
If your fur baby is suddenly licking your feet, it means that it is trying to convey a message to you. We know how dogs always want to get our attention but at times, we are too preoccupied with chores that we tend not to pick up the non-verbal communication of our fur babies.
In this case, your fido may be licking your feet not because it wants to play, but rather, it is asking you to shift your attention to its pain or discomfort such as a gastrointestinal issue.
Is It Bad For Your Dog To Lick Your Feet?
Licking your feet will not kill your dog but on some occasions, it may cause an upset stomach. It also won’t get ill for as long as you did not walk barefooted and stepped on something (e.g. grass fertilizers, herbicide and pesticide granules) hazardous to its health.
Another thing that we want to emphasize is that you should discourage your dog from licking your feet and legs right after you shower. Depending on how much you applied, the residue from soap, body oil, or lotion may cause mild forms of gastrointestinal upset.
Actually, the probability is higher for you to get sick than your dog as a result of licking your feet and other body parts, more so if you have an open wound. Here are the reasons why.
It is true that a dog’s saliva contains histatins, a substance that has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. But, let us remind you that a dog’s saliva also has a plethora of bacteria that can infect an open wound.
Some of the bacteria present in a dog’s saliva are zoonotic, meaning the bacteria can be passed on to you that may cause septicemia.
Plus, you do not closely monitor your fido 24/7, so you have no idea where that mouth has been. Dogs will devour just about anything, they lick other dog’s butts, some even eat their own poops. Your fido’s body is equipped to handle this kind of lifestyle but you are not.
The bottom line is that you and not your dog can get sick if you allow your dog to lick your feet all the time.
Apart from bacteria, your fido is also a carrier of parasites. Hookworms, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium can cause you to suffer from intestinal disorders. Plus, if you allow your dog to excessively lick your feet, there’s a probability that parasites can be passed on to you in the form of a skin disease like ringworms.
How Do You Get My Dog To Stop Licking Me All The Time?
As we’ve said, your fido licking your feet is not really a bad thing. More than anything else, it is an indication of a deep bond between the 2 of you.
However, for some fur parents who are especially ticklish, this canine behavior can be uncomfortable and unhygienic. For these reasons, here are some tips on how you can stop your dog from compulsive licking:
Divert Its Attention
If your fido begins to lick your feet, distract it or divert its attention to its favorite stuffed toy or better yet, a chew toy that can make it busy for a longer time.
Another effective way to divert its attention is to distract it by teaching it how to perform tricks or basic commands such as “sit” and “stay”. The main idea is to shift its focus from your feet to another activity.
Positive reinforcements in the form of treats or a belly belly rub is a useful way to stop your dog from compulsive licking. If it starts to lick, say the word “no” in an authoritative but non-threatening manner. If your fido stops licking your feet, give it the prize that it deserves.
If it disobeys you, do not shout or hurt your dog because you cannot correct ‘bad behavior’ through punishment.
Discourage The Behavior
Everyone in your household should cooperate in order for your fido to learn how to stop licking the feet of its human family. This means making sure that no one laughs when your dog begins to lick their feet.
If someone is laughing, it ignites the feet-licking behavior even more. In the eyes of your dog, laughing is viewed as a form of positive reinforcement.
Can Dogs Smell Fungus On Feet? Yes, dogs can and it is because they have a very powerful sense of smell. Their noses are composed of 300 million olfactory receptors, compared to us that only have 6 million receptors. That said, these small noses can actually detect diseases, including fungal infections on human feet.
Why Do Dogs Lick Feet With Athlete’s Foot? Athlete’s foot is a fungal disease that has a certain smell that dogs may love and find irresistible. The pungent odor along with the sweaty and salty feet are all too alluring for dogs. But, if you are worried that your dog can get sick, fret not; Licking an athlete’s foot won’t make your dog sick because its saliva can help eliminate the presence of fungi in the athlete’s foot.
Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs When I Get Out Of The Shower? Your dog is acting as an investigator. Its curious instinct extends up to the type of bathroom essentials that you are using, like the peach-scented body wash or the strawberry-scented body lotion. Plus, of course, your dog loves you so much that sometimes, it wants to get hydrated straight from your body.