Does Your Dog Lick You Or Himself Excessively?
Are his affectionate greetings too affectionate? Is he wearing away at his own skin, creating hot spots? Licking is used to express affection and subservience toward the leader. And it is used to soothe an itchy or painful spot on the skin. Both types of excessive licking can be a problem.
Why Do Dogs Lick?
- Natural Instinct - Licking behavior is associated with moms regurgitating food for their pups.
- Submission - Dogs will lick the mouths and ears of other dogs and people they see as dominant.
- Cleaning - Mothers licked their young puppies in order to clean them and share their scent.
- Stress or Anxiety
- Dry Skin
Tips To Stop Dogs From Licking
The first step is a visit to the vet to check on and rule out a bacterial or fungal infection. Once medical reasons are ruled out, you want to work on basic obedience commands. Pushing away a licking dog will not work. This is attention and will encourage your dog to lick. It can even increase the licking intensity since your dog still has to get the message across.
From there, treatment plans for dogs who lick may include:
- Medical supplies such as a restrictive collar (lampshade), bandage over the area, corticosteriod creams or sprays to stop any itching or even anti-anxiety medication
- Increased activity and physical exercise
- Interactive toys that include food stuffed inside to give your dog something else to lick
- Replace licking with "Sit" and "Shake" obedience commands when your dog wants to greet you and your friends
Other reasons for licking are more disconcerting. Dogs can develop a problem referred to as acral lick dermatitis (lick granuloma). When ALD is present, a dog will lick at (and sometimes scratch or bite) an area on his body. Typically this will be the forearm region. A dog may also lick its rear excessively, which can be a sign that the anal sacs haven't emptied properly (a vet or groomer can be called upon in this situation). Regardless of the body area being licked, sores can be created and when your dog continues to lick, aggravated. Making the problem even worse is that the sores trigger the body's natural endorphin response, leading to feelings of well being in your dog when they kick in (similar to "runner's high.") The behavior can easily become an obsession.
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