why do dogs lick themselves so much

why do dogs lick themselves so much


Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves So Much?


You’ve likely observed your dog in one of their daily grooming sessions. Licking is a common behavior in dogs, but have you ever wondered why they do it so much? Let’s delve into this fascinating topic.

1. Natural Grooming Behavior

Just like cats, dogs use licking as a form of self-grooming.

  • Your dog might be trying to clean a certain area of their body.
  • They might be trying to heal a wound.
  • Or, they could simply be trying to remove dirt from their fur.

Table 1: Common grooming behaviors in dogs

Behavior Description
Licking Dogs lick themselves to clean their fur and heal wounds.
Scratching Dogs scratch to remove loose fur and relieve itchiness.
Shaking Dogs shake their bodies to remove excess water or dirt.

2. It’s a Sign of Comfort

Licking can also be a comforting habit for dogs – a canine version of biting nails or twirling hair.

  • Your dog might lick when they’re feeling anxious to calm themselves down.
  • They might lick when they’re bored as a way to entertain themselves.
  • Or, they could lick because it’s a habit they’ve developed over time.

3. Underlying Health Issues

Sometimes, excessive licking can be a sign of an underlying health issue.

  1. Allergies: Dogs can have allergic reactions to food, environmental factors, or certain materials, leading to itchiness and discomfort.
  2. Parasites: Fleas, ticks, and mites can cause your dog to lick and scratch excessively.
  3. Pain: Dogs might lick a particular area of their body to soothe pain or discomfort.

4. Behavioral Problems

Excessive licking can also be a sign of behavioral problems.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Yes, dogs can have OCD too. Continuous licking could be a compulsive behavior.
  • Anxiety: Dogs may lick excessively when they’re feeling anxious or stressed.
  • Attention-seeking behavior: Dogs might lick to get your attention, especially if they’ve noticed that it gets a reaction.

5. When to Seek Help

If you notice your dog’s licking is becoming obsessive, it’s causing skin problems, or it’s accompanied by other worrying symptoms, it’s time to seek help from a vet.


Q1: How much licking is too much?
A1: If your dog’s licking is causing sores, it’s becoming a compulsive habit, or it’s accompanied by other worrying symptoms, it’s probably too much.

Q2: Can I stop my dog from licking?
A2: It’s normal for dogs to lick, but if it’s excessive, a vet can help you determine the cause and provide solutions.

Q3: Could my dog’s licking be a sign of boredom?
A3: Yes, dogs often lick when they’re bored. Try providing more mental and physical stimulation.

Q4: Could my dog’s licking be a sign of anxiety?
A4: Yes, anxiety can cause dogs to lick excessively. If you suspect your dog is anxious, seek advice from a vet.

Q5: What can I do if my dog is licking due to allergies?
A5: A vet can run tests to identify what your dog is allergic to and recommend appropriate treatments.