It feels so good to see your dog at the end of your long working day, right? As much as dogs convey their feelings and emotions through their gestures, it is vital to understand their language. Their body language helps to know how they are feeling. A dog can give you a hind leg stand when he wants your attention or even start licking you out of all the affection. Being a pet owner, it becomes essential to decoding your pet’s language to get to know them better. Among many such body signs, you might observe that your dog starts licking himself out of nowhere. While occasional licking is fine, but it has become a behavior, then you should pay attention to the reasons they have begun the excessive licking to stop them from doing so.
To find the ways and solutions for stopping your little one from licking himself, again and again, ensure that you know the reason to get an appropriate solution. Let’s quickly go through the possible causes of why dogs lick themselves along with the ways to fix it.
Stress, Boredom, Hunger, and Anxiety
Dogs use licking as a way to relieve their stress and boredom. They start licking themselves at a specific spot constantly, sometimes just out of plain boredom or anxiety. Pretty much like humans start doing unusual things when bored, dogs turn to lick themselves. They also have the same behavior when they are stressed or anxious. Sometimes when they are hungry or dehydrated, they start licking themselves to indicate the same.
Solution: Try and feed them first to see if the licking is due to hunger. Also, get grain-free food to avoid allergens. Make a proper schedule for your dogs for meals as well as exercises to keep them active. Physical activities help in relieving stress and boredom. So taking your dog for walks can help them stay in a good mood and can result in stopping them from licking.
Dry skin and Allergies
One of the most common reasons for dogs to lick themselves is that they are feeling itchy due to their dry skin. Some allergens such as molds, ticks, parasites can also cause itching, which dogs try to calm down by licking. Parasite bites can also irritate the dogs that they try to curb by licking the areas they feel have dry skin or allergy reactions. Sometimes dogs are allergic to soy, wheat and other ingredients that are found in the homes usually. Even the shampoos you use for your dog can have allergens, which can cause this excessive licking.
Solution: Try changing the diet of your dogs and go through the ingredient list of the food you give. You can also try giving them the food that is free from common allergens and even change their shampoos for bathing. Also, always remember to bathe your dog at least once a month to clean them and check the spots that can cause such excessive licking. Invest in good hypoallergenic shampoos and also groom them to maintain their hygiene and possibilities of having allergic reactions.
Muscle Pain and Soreness
A lot of research reports suggest that dogs also start licking themselves at particular spots where they experience soreness, aches, or pain. Sometimes senior dogs switch to excessive licking to soothe the pain and help in recovering from it. If your dog is quite old now and has problems in the joints, it will resort to licking. Observe them while they are walking or playing to see if they can do it normally or limping. If you see them walking with a lot of pain and struggle, then you now know the reason and try the ways to soothe it.
Solution: When you detect that their licking is due to some pain or ache, it is better to take them to a veterinarian. The vet might give them pain killers or muscle relaxants that can relieve them from such aches or pain.
Gastrointestinal Illness or Infections
If your dog has been licking himself continuously, then there are chances that he might be suffering from some skin infections caused due to bacteria, viruses or fungi. Another reason for the infection could be the bites from the parasites such as ticks, fleas, and mites. Some dogs also show a compulsive behavior of excessive licking when they are facing problems related to digestion or due to the feeling of nausea.
Solution: When you see a sudden increase in their licking pattern, it might be due to some illness or infections. Check them and their coat to recognize the signs of infections or rashes. A veterinarian will be able to tell you more about such conditions and also suggest some over the counter medicines for helping them.
Much like humans, dogs can also face hormonal imbalance. In some cases, the secretion of the hormone cortisol increases from the thyroid gland, which can also cause skin irritation. This imbalance can lead to the excessive licking of the dogs at the spots they feel irritated.
Solution: There are many vitamin and nutritional supplements that are available in the market for treating such imbalance in the dogs. It is better to consult your vet before deciding the supplement for your pet. You can also opt for antiseptics if the areas they are licking have turned red or show signs of irritation.
Apart from all the solutions mentioned above, you can also try these couple of tricks to stop your dog from licking himself:
- Try and say NO repetitively when you catch them licking, this can signal them that what they are doing is not desirable.
- You can also try anti-licking sprays that taste bitter so that they stop licking to avoid the particular taste.
- Use natural products such as Vitamin E or fish oil to avoid the itching caused due to dry skin.
- Opt for antibiotics or medicines that are antihistamine to avoid the licking caused due to allergic reactions.
- Get rid of the insects and parasites from your house by doing a pest-control and taking precautions to avoid the infections.
So now, when you see your pooch licking themselves more than the usual, try to find the reason and fix it. Also, if you note that they are constantly licking themselves non-stop, then it is better to take them to the veterinarian for diagnosing the problem. Keep your pet well-groomed and see to it that parasites do not infect them.