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Does your dog lick things obsessively? A dog licking various objects is considered pretty much normal among pet owners and experts. But when a dog obsessively and abnormally licks the floor, or brick walls, or other objects…that is another story. This type of odd behavior might be caused of either a neurological or physical illness. It is one of the hardest of odd canine behaviors to properly diagnose and treat.
The usual reason for dogs licking at things is that they are curious by nature, and they want to investigate things around them. They use it to gather information from whatever they are licking. But when the licking habit comes to the point where you cannot stop or distract him from doing so, then that is where the abnormality comes.
Does Your Dog Lick Things Obsessively?
The cause of obsessive licking could be caused by many illnesses or diseases, or it could just be a bad habit. Therefore it is important to have a check-up with your local veterinarian first to diagnose your dog and explain things, especially when the licking habit started all of a sudden.
- The first possible cause is lack of nutrients. Because of this, some dogs subconsciously try to cure the deficiencies by licking various inanimate objects around them. So make sure that your dog gets the right nutrients in his daily meals.
- Your dog may have Cushing’s disease or Hyperadrenocorticism, in which his adrenal gland produces excessive glutocortisoid which can harm or affect many organs in the body such as the kidney and liver. It is also known to cause the excessive floor licking.
- Liver failure also causes this weird licking habit. The liver failure might have been caused by Cushing’s disease or some other illness.
- Some neurological diseases can trigger this odd behavior in dogs, as they interrupt some of the normal functions of the body and organs. Examples of such are obsessive-compulsive disorders, in which dogs like to repeat a certain activity or behavior over and over again. Don’t worry though – medical treatment is available for it, and can usually cure this cause.
If no medical disorder or illness was found by the vet, then the problem could be in the dog’s behavior. Perhaps he might have been stressed by a certain event, such as moving to a completely different environment, someone losing a job or getting pregnant, someone dying. Basically, any major event in your life or the dog’s can cause anxiety in your dog. To deal with this, you should maintain a normal physical routine for your dog, and make sure he gets regular exercise, walks, and outdoor games.
Note that this is emphasized by Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) in an answer on his CesarsWay.com website:
…keep this in mind — dog anxiety is usually caused by a lack of exercise or release of energy. In order for Gina to stop her obsessive licking, she needs to be properly exercised and fulfilled. She has become fixated on licking, and you need to help Gina redirect that frustration into dog exercise and ultimately, balance.
You will probably have to do some detective work yourself. For instance, there may cases where when the obsessive licking only occurs at certain times, such as when visitors come to your house. This may be a symptom that your dog may be poorly socialized, or just has a nervous personality. You can soothe him with some good music and a DAP diffuser to calm him down. His own crate or room can help relieve your dog’s stress. Determine what the dog’s fears are, and take appropriate action.
Boredom can also be the root cause of this licking. Maybe he needs more exercise, play time, walking around the neighborhood, or anything to keep him busy. Dog toys and chew toys can also work. You can also take him to different places such as parks and beaches, or you can go trekking or swimming.
Does your dog lick things obsessively? Overall, you just need some good diagnosis of the problem and the right communication with your best friend to eliminate this odd behavior.
Have you ever experienced this behavior with your dog? If so, please share below how you cured it.
I just need to get off my fat ass and start walking him now that his feet aren't infected anymore. Pretty sure he's licking cause he is bored stupid.lol
He just had his liver and kidney bloodwork done ($$$!) so I know for a fact it isn't damage to those major organs.lol
Rose M Lazzarisays:
I have a West Highland terrier named Bailey…we picked her up from a breeder March 2016. The breeder told us she's a licker… My husband and I didn't think much of it then, but now its become much more than excessive. She licks everything her toys wood doors-floors the air and our other rescue westie Max, who is 10 years old…and spent really like this… But her licking dosent stop there. She trys to lick everyone…legs feet hands…face its never ending. she runs like the wind we try and walk her…wants a lot of attention too… Folows me around and freaks when she can't see me. Frustrated in Roseville.
We have a one year old pit mixed who loves to stare at shadows and lick the paint off the wall what can we do to stop this
My poodle licks the hardwood floors constantly. Also the bed linens. He has diabetes. Is that one of the diseases that can trigger the licking? H s on a special diet due to diabetes so I'm not sure about the vitamins in his food. It's WD by Hills Science that I get from the vet.
My 18 yo Jack Russell is hard of hearing, cannot see very well and despite his age loves to go on walks,but does tire easily. He does lick obsessively and I suspect he is leaving a trail of crumbs, so to speak, since his sniffer seems to be just fine. He marks his favorite places. He does seem to be more agressive with his behavior when he is nervous or stressed for some reason.
I have very close to the same situation, although my 15 yr old JRT (same hearing/vision issues) doesn't get upset or aggressive about anything. He licks CONSTANTLY! Every bed he takes over is soaked! Have you gotten any good answers?
My JRT is 15, he was diagnosed with anemia, high liver count and Lyme disease. The vet put him on antibiotics for 4 weeks for the Lyme and after a little over a week he started failing. Wouldn’t eat, and was lethargic. Took him off antibiotics, ( vet agreed) and started him on CBD oil. I fed him bone broth and water with a medicinal syringe and he responded right away. Last Lyme count he was normal! It’s been almost a year and he’s still doing great.
My 9 month old Potcake puppy licks and gnaws at the floor. We are beginning to get holes and I want to know how to get her to stop.
Make sure your dog has plenty of other things to chew and play with so he won’t want to chew or mess up your home and your stuff.
9 month old Charlie licks and licks. Mostly apolstery chairs, couches, beds. Also leather. Started this many months ago.
He’s a Morkie
My dog only licks things when we go out for a walk. He licks plants, grass, the side of dustbins etc. I think it maybe where other dogs have peed but it does worry me that he might pick up some nasty infection or bug. I always pull him away when I see him doing it, but it’s irritating me now…I can’t seem to stop him from doing this. Is this normal?
My soon to be 11yr old lab have been licking up hair, everything but last few days have eaten a pair of socks, ate the cats toy Crocket Christmas wreath, chewed cord off the tower heater & has thrown up everything
This behavior has started in last couple years since I have moved from house to delpluxe & seems to have gotten worse since I rescued a kitten this winter
Not certain if she is acting out against the move & now the kitten plus she has been having more trouble getting in & out of car so that has limited her car rides & walks over last few months
During winter she seemed content staying inside now as summer a porches she wants to go but has difficulty walking & getting into car
I have started given her joint meds which she gladly takes every day
Plus she hates our upstairs neighbor with a passion he isn’t very nice at times & loud
My dog starts licking the floor and baseboards. She does this every couple of months. Tonight I was told to give her a little salt. She licked it up and stopped lucking the floor.
My 16 year old dashund licks carpet/dog bed covers excessively and we know from the vet that she has adrenal cancer and maybe a neuroligical problem. I have been dealing with this for over 7 months and the vet said that she probably had a year left before the cancer takes over.
Has anyone been told that the cause of the licking be from the above problems?
Lora- I’m sorry to hear of your dachsy condition. I also have one and would be heartbroken to lose him. My Sammy is about 7 years old and within the past year has developed a habit similar to your pup. Sammy LOVES car rides. Unfortunately, he likes to sit on my lap while I Drive. During these rides he CONSTANTLY licks the drivers side window, steering wheel and my pants. It is extremely annoying and I have been unable to stop it. I will discuss it with my vet at his annual checkup this month but thanks for your comment and again I’m sorry to hear of his condition.
Hope that there is something that your vet can help you with. I find that if she can pace through the house for a while that it does subside a little but she still insist on licking her bedding.
I thank you for your compassion for her condition but she is still doing pretty well on a mainly low fat human diet and it has now been over a year since her diagnosis.
Give her homeopathy drug carsinocin 30 liquid. 5 drops in a spoon for a week. It will help in arresting the spread.
My Zoey is a very obsessive licker but after reading the article I hope it’s only anxiety not that I want that for her although I am going to have her checked Zoey just loves the vet HA HA HA anyway I love you ZOEY YOU and all ANIMALS ROCK ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
My 16 yr old yorkie x has done this all his life. He licks the bed sheets, sofa, me. When he does this, I try to take him out & 9 times out of 10 he needs a poo, because of this I’ve assumed it’s probably to do with anxiety about wanting to go for a poo! We rescued him as a 5 mth old from a dogs home, so maybe it has something to do with his past as a pup in rescue centre? He’s very aggressive towards other dogs also but not sure if there is a connection? Great to hear I’m not the only one with a dog with this problem though. Also heard that probiotic can help with settling a dogs tummy.
Yes please answer if probitics worked or not. My Yorkie has started licking the floor all over and got real sick. She vomited 3 times. Hair was in the second two rounds of vomit. Lits of fuzz and all sorts of things. It started when I came back after leaving her home for four days to visit sick relative.
My family and I have a 4-year-old West Highland/Cairn Terrier we adopted as a puppy of 3 months old. Full of energy and love for all five family members and one year later we purchased a rottweiler puppy 3 months old. They grew up together and the rottweiler follows and does everything my terrier does. Now the rotti is actually drinking the urine of the terrier and it has gotten to point that our terrier will not go out in our backyard because the rotti won’t leave him be, oh yes, they are both males. But what is more of a major problem, the rotti has now started stalking our terrier day and night…he is CONSTANTLY trying to lick him, etc. in the house, everywhere. We have to keep them separated! What type of behavior is this? Please help!
Our dog started doing this 2 nights ago. There was a dog show on TV that he was interested in, he kept standing in front of the TV watching the other dogs. Then he started obsessively cleaning the doona on the couch with his front teeth. He couldn’t be stopped. If we physically got in his way to stop him, he’d start cleaning us. If we moved the doona away, he’d do it to the couch. He only does this in the lounge room, not the laundry where he sleeps. I sat in the laundry with him last night after he’d been cleaning in the lounge room, and he didn’t touch me. He doesn’t do it outside either. He hasn’t been having doggy playtime lately as he got expelled from doggy day care for being too noisy. I think he does miss playing with other dogs, and seeing dogs on TV he couldn’t play with started this behaviour and he’s gone a little bit neurotic. I think (and hope) that’s all this is. I think we’ll try having a treasure hunt in the lounge to distract him next time he comes in so he can associate being in the lounge with good things. Any tips would be welcome. He seems to quite enjoy cleaning obsessively, wagging his tail with excitement while he does it.
Can someone help me pick the right food for my dog. My toy poodle doesn’t stop chewing on everything and licking everything. He chews on rugs and all over his body to the point where he bleeds and even pulled out a nail. I have to keep cone on constantly. Thank you.
I’ve a dog that obsessed with licking firewood, walls and his bed. If anyone has any info or reasons for this, could they let me know please?
HI, I was wondering why my beagle (Snoopy) licks his stuffed bear, i understand that he really enjoys it but after it broke he was really upset by it. so upset that i had to go to build-a-Bear to make him an exact replica of the original bear. he takes this bear to bed with him, always has it with him and when he’s playing with it he rips the stuffing out and licks the bear 23 to 40 times, whenever I’ve tried taking him out for a walk he refuses to go because he wants to stay with his bear the only way i can get him to release the bear is to give him treats and that distracts him enough for a couple of seconds and when we get outside he realizes that Bear isn’t with him and he freaks out and tries to get back inside so sometimes he walks with bear in his mouth even though its just a head now and he worships it I’m not sure its a illness or anything but i find it pretty odd
My dog has never been that obsessive to want to take his toy out of the house with him but he has a Halloween themed dog shaped like a pumpkin that he holds and licks consistently. Never chews it or pulls at it. Just lays on the floor with him holding it and licking it all over. If he wants it and I take it away he cries until I give it back.
I’ve got a dog that just started licking our sheets, bedding, pillows, couch, and of course she also licks us. I just started researching this and read somewhere that probiotics helped with licking, and also with scratching, ear infections, and a few other things. I’m going to give it a try and hope that it helps!
tell me….did probiotics help stop your dog with the licking??
Yes I’d be curious to know if the probiotics helped as well.
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I have a pikoneze and she licks all four of her feet every night before we go to sleep. I think she is just cleaning them. I also have a chi/ pom and every night before sleep she bites her nails, i never have to clip them. I have a chi and she is my obsessive licker, no health issues but if we are in bed she is either licking the sheets or comforter or me, if we are up if she isnt walking around she is licking whatever she is near. My babies are happy and so am i, even with a big wet spot where my pik cleans her feet, and with the bed shakimg a bit with my chi/pom clipping her nails and my chi wetting my sheets and giving me a lick bath. Lol. I love mybabies 🙂
I have a pekingese to b and she acted like maybe she had something caught in her teeth or mouth but then she just started kicking,she was acting fine before that. Making an appointment tomorrow.shemail seems to be calmer now. So scary, all I want to do is help her and cant.
I retweet many bloggers for an large audience of primarily R+ trainers and dog guardians , on 4 tweeter accounts and a few facebook accounts. I have retweeted many Dogington Post articles without a problem until today, and your unnecessary reference to Cesar Millan’s post. His answer was a good one until he added “Be sure to only give her the appropriate affection and attention when she is in a calm-submissive state; which reflects Cesar’s underlying philosophy.
WE will not support a P+ Internet Newspaper. Please choose a side to support and be consistent with your position. I guess you already have and so have WE. Most of your articles are R+; I hope one day you make all your articles based in positive reinforcement so that I can repost your articles once again.
My long haired chihuahua Punk is 7, and since I have had her she has a habit of licking the left side of her mouth, and it has made her fang bend outwards from the constant licking on that side of her mouth, she does it when she’s nervous, or upset, my other chi has licked and cleaned her feet at night for many years, I think they are just neat little clean freaks, and it comforts them to do so.
I have a puppy mill teacup-sized Chi. I figure his obessive feet licking is a form of OCD. The vet hasnt seem concerned, he’s had full blood panels etc. Can anyone suggest other testing he may need? He doesnt have itching or rashes or anything like that. He just licks his feet til he falls asleep. But does it quite often, even when getting snuggles from any of us at home.
My 15 year old pug has always been a ‘licker’ since a pup. Now she is deaf and blind she licks everything! I guess her way to deal with her handicaps and her age. She finds it soothing to lick a door or a couch her and there . When she does we try to stop as clearly the cleaning agents, varnish are not great for her…but she is happy and eats and wags her tail. As a n elderly pug, exercise is not needed so much 🙂
Also maybe leaves her scent around so she can smell where she has been and knows where to go…
My foster pit bull licks sheets and pillowcases like Marlene’s (above). She’s 3 and I’ve had her for just over a month. I hate the sound and tell her “no” and rub her nose and mouth to relax her. She escaped from an abusive owner. She sleeps in bed with me and another of my dogs and she is happy in every other way. But that licking…!!! I figure she has an anxiety issue.
Obsessive licking can also be an extreme way of attention seeking. It may have worked in the past and has become the dog’s “go to” behaviour. Exercise is not the solution (one day people will remember that it never is) but giving the dog the right attention at the right times on the owner’s terms has been an easy and effective solution for so many dogs we have worked with in the past. In fact, I worked with a dog last week that did this and stopped by the end of the day once it got the right info 🙂
Obsessive licking can also be an extreme way of attention seeking. It may have worked in the past and has become the dog’s “go to” behaviour. Exercise is not the solution (one day people will remember that it is never is) but giving the dog the right attention at the right times on the owner’s terms has been an easy and effective solution for so many dogs we have worked with in the past. In fact, I worked with a dog last week that did this and stopped by the end of the day once it got the right info 🙂
My chocolate lab was doggie napped out of our yard 6 years ago. He was gone for 2 traumatizing months, then, the day after hunting season. dropped in the night drop at the local shelter. (Bad at hunting?)Being chipped and having filled out reports everywhere reasonable, we got him back immediately. He is not the same happy go lucky, carefree dog that had been taken from us, even 6 years later. He is worse in the winter. He has had numerous lick granulomas. I think they start out as bites or allergic reactions. He is incapable of leaving them alone. I have finally opted to medicate him and my playful boy reemerges and stops licking. It’s also helped to put him on diphenhydramine. He’s got a way to go. I wrestled with the idea of medicating him and am sorry it took so long. He needed help. I didn’t want him hooked on meds, however, it’s not as if I need to worry about him driving impaired or operating heavy machinery under the influence. He plays more and is so much more relaxed. His personality shines through and his licking is not as bad. He normally licks only his paws and it is greatly ameliorated with meds. I love him, he’s so sweet and I and every professional whom I’ve involved in his care agrees that he shows signs of abuse and PTSD. I am very grateful for a wonderful veterinarian and terrific trainer who have helped him be more himself and to blossom.
My 17 month old Jack Russell licks the hardwood floors. It started after he developed an obsession with peoples feet.. he constantly follows feet and stands very close with his face and eyes fixed directly on the feet. He stops briefly when commanded to stop but will dart off in a whiney growl run about and return right back to the feet. He recently has added licking the wood floorto the feet staring. I am worried it will escalate and may start to bite peoples feet. Not to mention it is bothersome to friends and family. he is very hyper and requires a lot if activity, but he fatigues easily and it appears that increasing activity ie. Walks, outings games etc. Actually increases his hyperactivety with insatiable desire for more runs or fetch. He us super smart and lovable but the behaviors are so annoying.
Our Boston terrier did this, does this, and she has Cushing’s Disease and liver problems. Even on meds for these things, she still does this. We just tell her “no” when we catch her and she continues to do what she wants 🙂 She is 12 and a half and as long as she is with me, I don’t care what she does…well, within reason 🙂
Im with you on you comment as long as ther with you …my 12yr old king charles constantly licks hardwood floors…chairs…walls occasionally…if i say stop he does for short period then when he thinks im not looking he starts agakn…he has always licked thing but its obsessive now…we recently l8st oyr other dig as she was 17 and had cancer…i know he misses her so maybe its to do with anxiety that it has worsened…im going to vet this wk to check nothing medically wrong…he does have occasional seizures….then his bck legs dont work for a day or two but apart from that he is healthy and happy…
My Olde English Bulldogge licks the arms of the couch & any member of the family’s arms or legs if exposed. When I say lick, I mean drench with slobber. He is a bulldog with slobber for enough for 7 dogs! He ever licks his feet excessively until they are red and irritated. I bought a “Thunder Shirt” and that seems to ease his anxiety while he is wearing the shirt. There has been such an upheaval of people in and out of the house and he is so stress & depressed. I stick to his exercise routine, but that Thunder Shirt works wonders. It does only help when he’s wearing it, and he can’t wear it too long, it upsets it tummy after a while.
I had a dog do this with her feet, licked until they were raw. Finally discovered through various testing that she had allergies. After treating her allergies and changing a few ingredients in her diet she hasn’t done it since. My vet explained that it’s basically the same reaction humans have with the itchy eyes, throat and noses. Glad the thunder shirt works, just wanted to offer another suggestion in case it stops working. 🙂
I have been told that deaf dogs – or dogs with a hearing impairment – will lick more to gather more info to make up for what they can’t hear. With people, they say if they lack one sense, ie deaf or blind, other senses increase to make up for their lack and this therory may be the same for dogs. I have seen many deaf and/or hearing impaired dogs that seem to lick quite a lot – I think there is something to it!
Our 2 year old jack russell terrier licks the air CONSTANTLY! We got him from a breeder at the age of 10 mos & he was WILD…. basically zero amount of training except going on “adventures” which were hiking and looking in holes with 2 other JRT’s. We talked to the vet about it and he said it was ‘probably nothing’. He’s okay when he’s outside & he’s running/playing. There doesn’t seem to be any one thing that triggers this weird behavior. It’s driving me nuts!
marlene @ teddy bearsays:
my teddy bear is shitz/lapsa shes 7 yrs. old. she likes licking pillows, sheets. we were thinking salt on the material. idk is this hurting her? other than laying on a semi wet pillow. it dosent bother us but if its something that is harming her. we need to know. thank you
My dog (age 13 – pitbull) licks the floor incessantly. I have had him checked for physical illnesses and we have ruled them out as the cause. Unless he’s sleeping, he’s licking. Our floor is all gooey. It’s almost impossible to keep up with it. He will stop for a chewy or treat but goes right back to it. Sometimes he licks for hours. It’s driving us nuts.
My 2 year old Pom has an obsession with licking faces. (Ears, eyes, mouth and especially in Noses) he’s always done this since he was a puppy. It’s like a morning normal now he wants to just lick everyone’s face.
My beagle started doings this to a green area rug one day. Then,he was going outside and eating grass or bushes. With our Vet,we realized he had a stomach ache. Now we know to keep him from house items and have a med for him. If I don’t let him have grass, he’ll eat the house. I hope this helps.
My dog started licking his bottom constantly, not nice I know, he was really anxious and could not settle. I took him to the vet who discovered he had blocked anal glands. He had to have them drained and the vet recommended we change his diet. I’m so glad we took notice of his excessive licking and would recommend anyone do the same.
Can it be a breed specific thing? so many Chinese Crested owners say their dog like over and over. 2 of my 5 dogs do.
I have noticed that when my dog licks unusually more is when he has a bad tooth or some other mouth pain. Getting a tooth pulled or even just cleaned by the vet more often than not stops the weird licking.
My dog licks the carpet compulsively. He’s 10 in April of 2014. I got him about 3 years ago. He came from a backyard breeder or puppy mill. He was a very insecure and freaked out dog when I got him. I turned the TV on it it completely blew him away when he fist arrived. I think this is something that he’s developed while in the cage to deal with stress. This behavior comes and goes depending on the situation in the home (I foster for a rescue organization so have various dogs in and out).
I’ve tried and tried to work with him, but at this point, I feel it’s so ingrained. It’s how he copes. I’m not sure it can be ‘fixed’. He’s not as compulsive as he used to be, but it’s still there and it stops when he’s right next to me.
Unfortunately, his instability causes some dogs to snap at him. I try to avoid this with the dogs I foster, but out of the 15 I’ve fostered, only 1 has done this. It takes him a couple days to recover from this.
I’ve taught him a lot of things to give him confidence, but even that only goes so far.
He used to lick everything including mulch, gravel and dirt. Then he’d throw up and lick more. He only licks my shag carpet now and I can usually distract him from doing that. I do use vinegar, water and dish soap to shampoo my rug so he may like the taste as well.
This foster mom is doing the best she can.
Hi, I also have a puppy mill dog. Right now I am dealing with obsessive feet licking. It started due to itchy hives. I took care of all but seasonal allergens; however, licking can start for a reason then become obsessive/compulsive. Luckily all I need to do is put his socks on. Eventually it will stop…before it leads to loss of fur followed by ulcerated sores. Since you are a well seasoned foster, you probably already know; however: A fearful dog needs time to settle. Mine will always have 3-4 things that he cannot overcome and we just avoid these as much as possible. I have taught him the words: “It’s okay” in a low, soft voice. This, in itself, quite often calms him. It is a wonderful term if they learn it. They need soft words and commands and never a harsh “no” etc. If you can, (you most likely already have) set up a “safe” place, where it is quiet. If you need to, perhaps a gated area, so when he goes to his safe, quiet place, others cannot come near him. He can learn that when he is ready to come out, he can come to the gate and you will let him out. The hard part is letting him know somehow that he is not being punished; rather you are protecting him from others while he calms down.
Good luck. Luckily we live in a large home with just my husband and me. We like quiet. Other than a little TV at night, we read or engage in quiet conversation; no background noise like TV or radios.
I volunteer for Puppy Mill/Pit-Bull rescues when I can. I am a professional trainer. I went to school at a late age to be a better volunteer and will go to classes till I reach behaviorist level.
Good luck. I really admire people, like you, who go so much further than the extra mile. Good luck.