Sometimes dogs lick themselves or other objects excessively to the point that the owner is concerned. This behavior is a sign of pain, boredom, or anxiety. It could also be a result of allergies or other health conditions.
Therefore, if you have noticed that your dog is licking himself excessively, you should care to check the cause. As a dog owner, you are expected to keep an eye on your dog daily. In so doing, it will be easy for you to notice the unusual licking behavior.
Why does my dog lick himself?
A dog can lick himself for many reasons, including the following.
Your dog can lick to clean himself just like the cats. Your dog can lick its feet, belly, or anus to clean those parts. However, excessive anal licking could indicate that his glands have a problem.
Your dog could lick himself to facilitate the healing process. The dog’s saliva contains enzymes that help remove dead tissues and clean dirt from the wounds. However, excessive licking can reopen the wounds and delay the healing process.
Sometimes dogs suffer from allergies, and they could lick themselves when they feel the itch and discomfort. Allergies could be caused by food or environmental triggers. Your dog could also be having skin irritations caused by allergies as a result of skin contact with soap or pesticide.
4. Anxiety or boredom
Just like human beings, dogs have physical responses to psychological upsets such as anxiety or boredom. If your dog is anxious or bored, it could resort to licking.
5. Dry skin
If your dog has dry skin, it could end up licking it. Fatty acid deficiencies and winter weather are the major causes of dry skin. The dog responds to the resulting discomfort by licking himself.
6. Hormonal imbalances
Your dog could be having superficial skin infections as a result of too much hormone cortisol or deficiency of thyroid hormone. Therefore, you will see your dog licking himself when bothered by this condition.
A dog could be experiencing pain, forcing him to lick himself. The dog could have an object stuck his foot pad or a thorn on his skin. Additionally, the dog could be licking himself as a result of pain caused by orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia or arthritis.
Dog licking can be caused by parasites such as mites, fleas, and ticks. These parasites cause discomfort to the dog, making him lick himself.
Licking may be helpful to the dog if it is reasonable. However, the licking can be excessive, thus indicating that something is amiss. Excessive licking can be harmful to your dog. You will also be disturbed when you see your dog licking himself excessively.
Whenever you notice that your dog is licking himself excessively, you should establish the cause of the licking. The problem needs to be addressed early enough before it causes harm to the dog. Here are some of the tips for handling excessive licking.
What to do with excessive licking
1. Consult a veterinarian
If your dog is licking himself excessively, inform the veterinarian. You can take the dog to the vet to have it checked. The vet will explore all the medical examinations that could help you understand the cause of licking.
The vet will also prescribe the best medication to curb the licking problem. The vet will advise you on the use of systematic or topical antibiotics to treat the infections. You will also be advised on the best way to control the parasites causing the licking.
Veterinarians recommend using bitter sprays to discourage the dog from licking. You can also use special collars to cover the hotspots and prevent the dog from accessing them.
2. Explore behavioral solutions
However, if the vet rules out medical explanations, explore behavioral solutions. When you notice your dog is licking, switch up the activity. Engage your dog in an activity that is incompatible with lickings, such as trick training or ball play.
Repeat this redirect trick regularly, and you will gradually reinforce a lesson to your dog against licking. This is a positive reinforcement as the dog will not strain or get stressed.
Trick training, in particular, will provide an opportunity to correct the licking behavior while at the same time, harness your affection to the dog. After using tricks such as leaving weaving, army crawling, and sitting up to prevent licking, reward the dog with a hug. The hug will harness your affection to him.
3. Give the dog enough attention and exercise
The dog needs plenty of exercises to keep it engaged most of the time. Sometimes licking is caused by boredom or excess unused energy in the body. Therefore, exercising your dog regularly will solve the problem of licking as the dog will not be bored or have excess unused energy.
Similarly, a dog needs attention. Give your dog enough time and attention, as well as adequate stimulation. Spend time with the dog and play around with it to keep it engaged and active.
4. Changing foods
Food allergies could be a cause of dog licking. Therefore, change your dog’s diet and serve him with foods that are less likely to cause allergies.
Eliminate foods such as wheat and meat because they are known to cause allergies in dogs. Instead, feed your dog with fatty acid supplements to address skin disease issues.
5. Use of natural supplements
You can use natural supplements such as fish oil and vitamin E to solve the problem of dry skin. These supplements also reduce inflammation, improve overall skin health, and decrease pain.
Dog licking may not be harmful if it is reasonable. However, when done excessively, it raises concerns about the health of the dog. The above factors could be the reason why your dog is licking himself. Additionally, solutions to the problem of dog licking have been provided.