Why Do Dogs Lick And Different Kinds Of Licks

Do you ever ask yourself “Why do dogs lick?” Although licking is a common behavior in dogs, many dog owners don’t fully understand what this manner means. Dog licking may occur when he’s physically hurt himself, when his environment has changed or simply when you offer him affection.

But why do dogs lick and what is it that they’re trying to communicate with us?

Let’s uncover the truths behind dog licking and what this behavior means. Dogs lick their pack members and themselves for many reasons, and if you want to curb the behavior, it helps to understand its cause.

Ready to discover the answers to “Why do dogs lick so much?” Let’s dive in!

We Taste Good

When a dog licks their bowl, cleans the floor after you spill something or reaches for the counter, it’s quite obvious that he’s licking because he simply likes the taste.

But did you know that the same thing can be true when dogs are licking us?

Whether you realize it or not, we humans often have tiny food particles on our skin that our dogs can taste. Additionally, our skin has salt that dogs enjoy licking. Because of this, it is common for dogs to lick our faces and hands after we eat something.

So although it’s possible your dog is licking you out of affection, there’s also a great chance he’s licking because he loves the taste of your skin.

Grooming

Grooming is another common reason for dog licking. Similar to cats, it’s in a dog’s nature to groom themselves by licking their skin and fur. One of the most common places for dogs to lick is their paws. After being outside, dogs often lick their paws to remove the dirt and anything else they may have stepped on.

Pay close attention, though, to how much your dog licks himself. Moderate licking is normal behavior, but excessive licking may be caused by an underlying medical issue. Specifically, continuous anal cleaning can indicate that the glands need to be expressed. Consult your vet for possible reasons and solutions for your dog’s licking.

Healing

The big brown dog is licking at the back leg.

Do you ask yourself the question, “Why do dogs lick wounds?” Licking wounds is an instinctive nature of dogs with themselves and their human owners. From cuts to grazes, dogs lick any wound that is painful or irritated.

But why do dogs lick scabs?

Dog saliva has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can aid in fighting against certain bacterias. Furthermore, when a dog licks himself, it helps remove dead tissue and clean dirt from wounds.

In addition to licking his own wounds, your dog may also lick yours. As previously mentioned, it’s in a dog’s instinct to lick cuts and injuries. They do this to cleanse the wound and help speed up the healing process.

Although licking wounds has some benefits, too much licking may be harmful to your pup. Dogs who lick continuously may reopen wounds, create hotspots or cause infections. If you notice your dog licking his wound excessively, consult your vet for solutions to stop this behavior.

The same advice goes for dogs who lick human wounds. Although dog saliva has some healing properties, the risks outweigh the benefits. It is likely that your dog’s mouth contains bacteria that could cause infections. And although it isn’t necessary to punish your pup for licking your wounds, it’s important that you don’t encourage this behavior either.

Compulsion

Have you ever wondered, “Why is my dog compulsively licking?” There are a number of reasons dogs lick certain objects, themselves or people excessively. Perhaps your dog is nervous, scared, in pain or simply bored. By licking excessively, your dog is most likely trying to calm himself.

Licking can certainly be a healthy stress reliever, but obsessive licking merely reinforces anxiety and makes the problem worse. In addition, compulsive licking may be an indicator of underlying issues such as allergies, infections or pain.

As always, consult your vet if your dog is immoderately licking herself. Additionally, you may want to contact an animal behaviorist to help identify and solve your dog’s anxiety.

Communication

Whether you realize it or not, dogs communicate with us practically all day long. We just aren’t always good at interpreting the message they’re telling us.

One of their ways of communicating is through licking. There are many reasons a dog may begin licking to communicate with you. Dogs often lick to tell you they’re hungry, they’re submissive, or they want to be friends with you.

Of course, when your dog communicates with you, it’s important that you respond back. The next time your dog is licking you with intensity, take a look around to see if something is amiss. Maybe the water bowl is empty or the doggie door is closed. Chances are your dog needs something when he licks you excessively.

Affection

Do dogs lick to show affection? The answer is an absolute yes! This is one of the most common reasons that domestic dogs lick their human friends. Just as puppies are lovingly licked by their mothers, dogs want to “kiss” you to show how much they love you.

Although licking is a sign of fondness toward you, there may be a point when the kisses become too much for you. If you want your dog to stop licking you, simply ignore your dog and walk into another room whenever this behavior begins. Eventually, your dog will learn that licking causes you to leave and that this isn’t what they want.

We hope this article has helped answer all your questions, ranging from “Why do dogs lick their paws?” and “Why do dogs lick people?” to “Why do dogs lick you?” and “What does it mean when a dog licks you?”

Remember, if dog licking becomes excessive, consult your vet immediately. Obsessive licking is often a sign of underlying health issues.

We all love dogs, but are there any dog behaviors that are annoying to you? Let it out in the comments.

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