Any pet owner can tell you that dogs like to lick. Many people have the misinterpretation that a dog licks your face out of affection, but when you think about the fact that dogs lick absolutely everything (your face, other pets, their own private parts, the carpet, their paws, dirt) perhaps you should rethink this somewhat romantic notion. Although affection could be a reason for a dog’s licking, there are other reasons as well. These could include being hungry, being dirty, being bored, being nervous, or even medical issues such as irritated or itchy skin.
Dog Licking Picture by Garann.
Communication and Basic Instincts
Licking is the universal form of communication for all canine breeds everywhere. It goes back to their ancestors, the dogs that started it all, the wolf. Wolves, being a pack animal, need a way to communicate and do so silently so as not to frighten off their prey so soon. They developed licking as their means of talking to one another. Two wolves who are greeting one another will lick each other’s face or ears. A mother wolf will lick her pups to not only clean them, but to cause them to “do their business”. Other pups in the littler will lick one another to help each other stay clean. Pups will also lick their mother’s lips to elicit her to regurgitate solid food for them to eat. While domesticated dogs are much less likely to do this vomit to feed puppies response, when your dog licks your face, it’s very possible that they’re trying to tell you they’re hungry and want to be fed.
The primary reason a dog will lick itself is for grooming purposes. With regards to dog paw licking, they might lick their paws of any food that may have gotten on their fur so that it doesn’t decompose and smell. They might lick various parts of themselves to keep away body odor in general, or to clean themselves of anything that might have gotten stuck on their fur. While dog owners give their animals baths, the dog knows that those instances are few and far between. Licking themselves is their best way to stay as clean as they can be in the meantime.
Dogs (like most animals) love the taste of salt, which is why many dog treats have fairly high sodium content. If a dog is excessively licking your face or other body parts (for instance your bare arms or legs in the summer time), it may very well be that you taste salty, and the dog is satisfying their own taste for salty treats.
Nothing Better to Do
Dogs will often go on a licking streak when they are bored. They may lick their own paws, and then start looking for other things to lick such as the carpet, a wall, the hardwood floor, dirt, pavement, shoes… anything they can find becomes something new to lick when they’re having a fit of boredom, loneliness, or are having security issues. If this seems to be the case, an easy remedy is to entertain the dog. Play with him, taking him for a walk, get his blood running and his paws moving. He probably has energy to kill but can’t figure out what to do with himself, and so he licks for something to do.
Another possible reason for a dog constantly licking themselves might be medical in nature.
Excessively licking dogs? A dog will often lick itself excessively if it’s itching or irritated. This could be cause by any number of reasons including fleas or ticks, a rash or fungus, allergies, an injury, or arthritis. If your dog seems like they are licking themselves far too frequently or causing wounds to themselves from so much licking, take them to your local Vet to have them checked out.