Dog Licking Floor Obsessively

Dog licking behavior can be caused by a physical or mental illness. Because this behavior is so difficult to treat, it's important to determine the cause to most effectively treat the problem.

Abnormal Licking

All dogs lick. It's one of the many ways they investigate their environment. Though licking inanimate objects is strange to us, dogs use all their senses and gain a lot of information by using their mouths.

Licking becomes abnormal if it continues incessantly, to the point where it is difficult or impossible to distract your dog when he's licking.

Medical Causes

There are several illnesses that can cause obsessive licking, so if your dog has this problem, the first step is to have a complete veterinary workup to identify or eliminate a medical cause. This is especially true if the behavior appeared suddenly.

Medical causes of obsessive floor licking include:

  • Nutrient Deficiency: Many dogs who aren't getting enough nutrients may try to consume inanimate objects to make up for these deficiencies.
  • Cushing's Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism): The dog's adrenal gland is producing too much glutocortisoid, which is crucial in the function of many body systems. Hypoadrenocorticism can also cause excessive floor licking.
  • Liver Failure
  • Neurological Diseases: Different neurological diseases can disrupt a variety of normal body functions that could lead to this behavior. Obsessive-compulsive disorders are neurological disorders that can cause a dog to obsessively repeat the same behavior. Medication is often available for treatment.

Behavioral Causes

If no medical cause can be diagnosed, the problem is probably behavioral. If the problem appeared suddenly, consider changes that could have contributed. If a move, job change or loss/addition of family member has recently occurred, your dog may be nervous and is using floor licking as an outlet for nervous energy. Make sure to stabilize your dog's routine so that he can become comfortable with the changes.

If the licking occurs in conjunction with certain events, such as only when you have visitors or only on trash day, that could also be a nervous behavior. If the cause is linked to nervousness, create a safe place where your dog feels comfortable, such as a crate or room. Play soothing music and install a DAP diffuser, which emits calming pheromones in the air. Desensitize your dog to his fears so he can remain calm.

Obsessive floor licking can also be caused by boredom. If your dog has excess energy stored with no way to release it, many problem behaviors can occur, such as chewing, digging and licking. If this is the problem, your dog needs more exercise and mental stimulation.

Walk your dog daily at the very least, and try to run, swim or bike with him. Add a backpack with extra weight to the walks to tire your dog additionally. Throw the ball for him or play tug games. When you aren't home, provide him with mental stimulation, such as hiding his meals in the house or yard or stuffing them in a hollow toy, marrow bone or ball that spits out kibble.

Because there are so many causes for obsessive floor licking, it can be difficult to treat. Effective treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis of what is causing the behavior.