Why do dogs lick?

Dogs explore the world with their mouths. From the moment they are born, their mothers lick the newborn puppies to stimulate breathing and to keep them clean. Before they open their eyes, they learn to mouth and lick the other puppies in their den. It is a natural instinct associated with nurturing and exploring.

As dogs grow up, they continue to use their mouths to fully experience the world around them, tasting and testing everything, including their humans. Licking is a way of showing connection and submission. The submissive dog will lick dominant dogs to reinforce their position in the pack and to reinforce the bond between pack members.

Dogs also lick themselves to relive pain or itching, naturally using their tongues to try to soothe and clean wounds. Dogs have enzymes in their saliva which can help with healing. The urge to lick is strong in dogs, which is why you often see dogs with a cone collar after surgery or an injury; giving stiches or cuts time to heal without the dog’s intervention.

For some dogs, the healthy desire to lick can become excessive licking and as pet owners, this is something to look out for and act upon. Perhaps your dog is trying to tell you something.

Sometimes dogs will constantly lick their own mouths if they have a loose or infected tooth, or even an upset tummy. Excessive paw licking can indicate a cut or splinter between the toes, a fungal infection or a sign of anxiety. It may be an irritation or infection of the skin.

When dogs are anxious or stressed they may lick excessively – themselves, the floor or furniture or other pets or humans. In normal circumstances, licking releases pleasurable endorphins which makes the dog feel comforted. When things aren’t right, the constant licking may show that the dog is not getting the relief they require. In this case, you might need to look at other situations in the dog’s life to see how you can help.

Excessive licking may also indicate allergies, infections or pain. It may be a response to boredom. If loneliness, boredom and stress can be ruled out, then make an appointment with your vet to give the dog a thorough health check.

Some people love to get a “doggie kiss” when the dog licks their face. The dog shows affection and submission by licking and is often rewarded with pats and hugs. If face licking is excessive, modify your dog’s behaviour by immediately moving away or leaving the room. The dog will quickly learn that licking does not result in attention. Other unwanted behaviours in dogs can often be addressed by learning training techniques or consulting your vet.

Lickimats are a good way to help your dog with behavioural issues associated with boredom or anxiety. The mats can be spread with treats to keep the dog entertained and the mat cleans the dog’s tongue as they lick. Licking the mat can also help release endorphins in a controlled way and help the dog to relax and feel good.

Did you know that tea can also help your dog? Calm Me Doggie tea is a completely natural blend of herbs such as chamomile, peppermint and passionflower that will help your dog relax. Infuse the tea and allow to cool before offering to your dog. It can also be mixed with their food. Apart from helping your dog feel calmer, benefits also include better digestion, nicer breath and less gas. All things that make it easier for us to be close to our dogs.

Once you have ruled out medical or behavioural issues, it will be time for you and your dog to relax with a cup of tea and a nice long cuddle.

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Authored by Barbara Lomas, a genius copywriter- You can follow Barbara by liking her page: https://www.facebook.com/fuschiaworks

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