All owners of a dog will notice their dog licking at a certain area of their body or object.
Although this is not unusual, depending on the extent it can sometimes be a cause for concern. There could be many reasons as to why your dog is always licking, some of them are completely normal, although occasionally some will require further attention from you.
When dogs lick, their brain releases positive endorphins that make them feel content, happy and a give them a type of stress relief; this is why dogs love to lick.
Your dog may lick for a number of reasons such as:
1) The Cleaning Ritual – it is common for dogs to clean themselves often throughout the day.
2) A Sign of Affection – some dogs greet their owners with a lick or show their owners gratitude by giving out a lick when they are feeling happy.
3) A Sign of Respect to the Pack Leader – some dogs and puppies lick their owners or other dogs as a sign of respect to the pack leader.
4) Tasting Food – dogs often taste or test food by having a lick first.
5) Tasting a Dog Scent – male dogs especially like to taste the scents left on walks, to determine the breed and gender of other dogs that passed there before.
6) Your Dog has an Allergy – he may have eczema, a type of dermatitis or an allergic reaction to mites, such as ticks or fleas.
7) Your Dog has Pain or Discomfort – your dog may have a flea infestation, ticks embedded into his skin, neoplasia or arthritis. Remember eczema and dermatitis can also cause pain and discomfort too.
8) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – your dog does this repetitive licking when he is anxious or worried about something.
The first five reasons (1-5) are just normal dog behavioural licking. However, if you feel that your dog excessively licks at any time, you can train him to stop by simply walking away, by stopping petting or by leaving the room. He will soon learn to tone down his excessive licking habit!
The last three reasons (6-8) are a cause for concern, you should always observe your dog and take notice if he is sitting in his bed constantly licking himself, or any surroundings, as one of those reasons could be the culprit.
If you feel your dog’s licking is not normal behaviour, i.e. if your dog is constantly licking himself in a certain area, you should examine your dog to see if there is anything visible that could be causing the problem. If he is constantly licking his bed or the floor for no reason he may be suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
It is important to notice whether your dog is compulsive licking or not, as your dog can harm himself by causing an ulcerous wound, called Lick Granuloma, which if left can become infected. So be sure to always notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour.