9 Reasons Dogs Lick Excessively

A yellow dog sits outside and licks his lips.

By Dr. Fiona, a veterinarian and blogger for pet insurance provider, Pets Best Insurance 

All dogs lick, but some dogs lick in excess. In these situations, there is often a medical or behavioral reason for the licking. Here are nine reasons dogs lick excessively.

Medical Reasons Dogs Lick

1. Allergies – A dog may lick their skin because it itches from allergies
2. Infections – Infections with bacteria, fungus or parasites are itchy and can make dogs lick excessively
3. Pain – Underlying pain from arthritis, for example can make a dog licks its joints
4. Gastrointestinal issues – Occasionally dogs that lick strange surfaces (but not usually itself) will have underlying GI issues

If a cause is thought to be medical, a consultation with your veterinarian is needed find a solution that helps your dog.

Behavioral Reasons Dogs Lick

5. Boredom and/or anxiousness
6. It’s calming and soothing to them
7. It’s a sign of affection to the person or animal they’re licking
8. Out of habit – They may associate getting pet with licking
9. They like the taste of what they lick – For instance salty human skin

If it’s behavioral, responding to your dog’s licking with predictability and consistency and avoiding punishment can occasionally help. Try redirecting their focus by giving alternative activities and outlets that keep them occupied at times when they might be likely to lick.

Like This Information?

Subscribe to Our Free Monthly eNewsletter!

Sign Up Now!


  • JONI

    Oh yes, my sweet little papillon, Odie, gets overly excited about everything! He will lick his toy, the carpet, the sofa, his paw, I surmise to calm himself. He also licks our big ol’ cat Eldan as if he is grooming him. This he does out of love. When I brought Odie home as a puppy, Eldan was the animal he bonded with first so he is very close with the cat and will sometimes sit and look at him with adoration!

  • Ronna L Jeglum

    Pets Best Insurance is fantastic! I do like having an email stating that you have received a statement of billing from my vet and that it is being reviewed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *