Why Does My Dog Lick Everything?

December 29, 2021 by Becca Glee Shepard
dog excessive licking

We all love our dogs and their weird, yet funny quirks. But sometimes they can become annoying pretty quickly, and possibly even worrisome. Today we’ve got a question-and-answer style format to help you navigate your dog’s extra salivatious behavior.

Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Everything

  • They are bored
  • They are self-cleaning
  • They are calming themself
  • They think you taste good
  • They are sensing something
  • They are showing they love you
  • They are hungry or thirsty
  • They are battling nausea
  • They may be going through excessive licking of surfaces (ELS)

Read further to discover explanations to your dog’s excessive licking:

Q: Why is my dog licking everything?

A: They’re exploring, bored, self-cleaning, or calming themself.

Dogs are sensory creatures. They rely on their sense of smell, taste, and hearing to interpret their environment. When they lick something, it’s to better understand that thing.

If you have a new dog, a puppy, or are in a new environment with your pup, you might notice them sniffing the ground and licking a lot more. This is them investigating all the new smells and tastes in the area.

On the other hand, some dogs learn a habit of licking excessively when they’re bored. It may start with them licking their paws while laying down and move into them licking their front or hind legs. Licking themselves helps fight boredom and anxiety or stress. Be sure to keep an eye on this behavior, though, because older dogs who lick a lot may develop hot spots more easily and take longer to heal.

What you can do about it: 

Play with your pup to combat boredom and tire them out.

Q: Why is my dog licking me so much?

A: They think you taste good!

As humans, we come into contact with things many times a day. Oftentimes, the things we touch leave an imprint on our skin that we may not be able to see, but our dogs can certainly smell and taste.

We are constantly perspiring throughout the day and our skin produces oils that our dogs are attracted to. It is often said that dogs like the “salty” taste of skin, so they might be licking you because they like the taste of the oils left on your skin. 

What you can do about it: 

Gently tell your dog to go lay down or distract them with a toy.

Q: Why does my dog lick my legs?

A: Your dog is showing you love and affection.

Dogs have funny ways of showing their love to their parents, and one of those ways is by licking your legs or feet. 

Did you put lotion on your legs or feet this morning? Your dog has a strong sense of smell and is likely curious about your moisturizer. They’re probably licking your legs because they like the taste of it, and want to be in your presence and show you love. You might even find your dog constantly licking their lips after this!

What you can do about it: 

Wear longer pants or train your dog not to lick people.

why does my dog lick everything

Q: Why do dogs lick the air?

A: They’re sensing something, are hungry or thirsty, or are battling nausea.

Have you ever seen your dog sniff, lick, or gulp randomly into the air? It can be as innocent as them trying to eat a dust particle, but can also be a sign of something more serious.

Check your dog’s water bowl in case it is empty, and check in with when the last time you fed them was. They might just be hungry or thirsty! If your dog is prone to acid reflux or eats their food particularly fast, they might be more prone to displaying this licking behavior. Licking or swallowing air helps them control their acid reflux.

If your pooch looks visibly uncomfortable—having a hard time laying down, circling, bloated belly—definitely bring them to a vet! It could be a sign of a larger gastrointestinal issue.

What you can do about it: 

Check their food and water bowls and monitor for discomfort.

Q: Why does my dog lick him or herself so much?

A: It could be something more than boredom and self-cleaning.

As we said earlier, your dog might just be bored and has developed an excessive licking habit. 

However, your dog could be trying to fight a skin condition. Does his skin look dry and flaky? Or red and irritated? He might have a skin allergy that he is trying to soothe. Check the spots where he licks frequently for any signs of lesions, inflammation, or parasites.

Has your dog started any new medications recently? Switched dog food brands? Seasons changing? These are things you can ask yourself to get to the bottom of a potential skin condition. Call your vet if symptoms appear to get worse, your dog’s licking worsens, or your dog looks to have visible pain.

What you can do about it: 

Call the vet if you suspect there is an underlying skin condition.

Q: Why is my dog licking the floor?

A: It might be excessive licking of surfaces, or ELS for short.

It’s one thing if someone accidentally spills something on the floor and your dog zooms to lick it up, and another if it’s a repeated behavior. If your dog is licking carpet and hardwood floors, it might be a sign of ELS, or excessive licking of surfaces.

Pay attention to see if your pooch is constantly licking objects like the floor, walls, furniture, and other surfaces. ELS is usually a sign of a greater gastrointestinal problem, so it might be time to call the veterinarian if you suspect it may be ELS.

What you can do about it: 

Call the vet if you believe your pup might have ELS.

Show Your Pup You Love Them

So your dog licks a lot. It’s their way of showing you love and affection! While slobbery kisses might not be everyone’s cup of tea, your pup is just showing you he cares the way he knows best.

Worried your dog’s licking behavior is outside the norm? Schedule a time to visit a licensed veterinarian to see what may be going on. With dog insurance, you’ll have coverage for skin and gastrointestinal illnesses your pup may be facing. Spot Pet Insurance takes your pet’s health seriously. We believe pets make us better people, so consider showing your dog just how much you love them with pet insurance today.

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