Causes of Excessive Dog Licking

Dog licking can be a normal behavior, as dogs like to groom themselves. However, if the licking is excessive this behavior may indicate a physical or emotional issue. Excessive licking can cause skin infections and hair loss, so the cause must be identified and proper treatment should be administered.


Allergies can cause skin itchiness, so the dog will try to relieve this by licking his skin. The allergens may vary from food to chemicals or pollens. If you notice that the dog is licking himself after exposure to an allergen let your vet know and he may perform some conclusive tests. Allergies may be relived with topical ointments and steroids or antihistamines.

If the allergen is singled out, allergy shots may also be administered to eliminate the negative reactions for good.

Skin Infections

The dog may suffer from viral, bacterial or fungal infections that can cause itchy skin and obsessive licking. Most commonly, dogs are affected by the yeast infection or the ringworm disease, which are both fungal infections.

Skin Parasites and Irritations

Fleas can cause irritation; in addition, if the dog is allergic to flea bites, these can lead to additional itchiness, so the dog may lick his bites.

Other common canine skin irritations that cause obsessive licking include the mange, hot spots or the hives.


In case your dog has an injury, he may be licking the injury area. If the injury is not detected, excessive licking may point to the injury area and you should get veterinary help. In case the injury has been detected, bandage it, to make sure that the dog won’t lick the wound; even if the licking can stimulate the blood flow and may promote the healing, the saliva contains a lot of bacteria that can cause infections.

If the dog keeps licking, chewing or scratching the bandage, you should get a lampshade collar, which will limit your pet’s access to the wound.

Please note that self licking may also be indicative of an internal injury, not only skin wounds; the dog may signal that he has joint pain or a strained muscle by licking the affected area.


Self licking creates moisture and when the saliva evaporates, this may have a temporary anesthetic effect; this is why if a dog is in pain, he will often lick himself.

If the dog persists licking a particular area, that may mean that he has a problem or feels pain in the area.


Dogs may often lick a lump on the skin and this may become an obsession, causing baldness in the area.

Please note that the lumps may be tumors, so a vet should be consulted.

Emotional Problems

Just like humans, dogs may suffer from emotional problems. If the dog is bored, stressed or suffers from separation anxiety, he may lick himself excessively.

The problem must be identified; if the problem is severe, medication can be prescribed.

Obsessive licking can lead to skin sores, lesions or hair loss. In severe cases, dogs may cause lick granulomas, which are serious infections.