Dogs that spend an unusually high amount of time licking themselves can not only be annoying, but may also be demonstrating some health issues that need to be addressed. If this is your situation with your dog, here are some of the most common reasons for why your dog licks himself too much, along with some suggestions and recommendations as to how to address this.
- You dog may have some sort of a skin irritation or disorder that causes an inordinate amount of licking. Mange or dermatitis are two common types of skin problems you dog may develop. Dermatitis can be the result of allergic reaction to mold, flea bites, dust mites, or even a certain brand of dog food. If you notice a skin condition, you’ll need to have your veterinarian diagnose the cause and recommend a treatment.
- You dog may simply be dirty and need a bath.
Dirt may be irritating his skin and his licking may simply be his attempt to clean himself.
Try giving him a bath with a flea and tick shampoo that is recommended for dogs, which you can find at any pet store. One note here: make certain to brush out any tangles or mats before bathing your dog or the bath will just make them worse.
- Your dog’s incessant licking may be the result of being under stress.
Stress can be caused by being in a new home, separation anxiety, adverse reaction to a new food, or physical abuse (which hopefully is NOT the case!).
- You dog may have injured himself and have an open wound as a result.
If this is the case, he will lick himself constantly to clean the wound and keep it free from infection. Dog saliva has proven to have an antibacterial effect. If it’s a minor wound, it will soon heal and the licking will stop.
If the wound is deep, contains foreign material, or your dog appears to be in pain, you should seek veterinarian treatment.
- Your dog may have developed a licking habit as a result of having too much energy and no other way to burn it off.
To prevent this, make sure to give your dog lots of exercise and play time to allow him to burn off the excess energy. If he’s happy, well exercised and not bored, he won’t feel the need to lick himself constantly.
In the case of separation anxiety, try this. Start out by leaving you dog alone for only a short period of time. Then gradually increase the time alone until you dog adjusts to your occasional absence.
If you’re changing your dog’s food, avoid the stress of an abrupt change by making the change gradually over about one week of time. Mix one quarter new food with three quarters old food for two days, then gradually increase the proportion of new food until it’s 100% at the end of the week.
With a little patience and observation, along with exercise, grooming and regular check ups, you should be able to lick the licking habit!