Why Do Dogs Lick So Much?

Dogs sometimes lick themselves, which is normal, but excessive licking can be a warning sign. A physical or emotional problem may be the answer to the question why do dogs lick so much. It is essential to identify the underlying problem to be able to stop the excessive licking. Excessive licking may cause hair loss, acral lick granulomas or skin infections.

Allergic Reactions

Inhalant and food allergies can cause excessive licking, because the allergens can irritate the dog's skin, which leads to itchiness. The dog will start licking, as the saliva will cause the skin to cool down and bring temporary relief.

The obsessive licking can be accompanied by fervent scratching or biting of the affected areas. The skin will the irritated due to this behavior, but there may also be rashes caused by allergies. Sneezing, coughing or swelling of face and limbs may also be signs of allergies.

The allergies can be caused by numerous irritants including chemicals, cigarette smoke, grass, dust mites, medication or food. The symptoms of allergies will be manifested predominantly after the dog is exposed to the allergen.

External Parasites

The presence of external parasites such as mites or fleas can cause excessive licking of skin. The bites from fleas can also cause an allergic reaction and great discomfort. The fleas are visible and can be identified by examining the dog's skin and coat. Mites are not visible, but the dog may display other symptoms such as shaking of the head or excessive production of ear wax.

Skin Infections

A skin infection will cause itchiness, and licking is the way the dog tries to deal with the discomfort. The infection can be bacterial or fungal. Common infections in dogs include mange, ringworm, hives or eczemas.

Emotional Distress

A dog experiencing emotional distress can start licking himself in excess. Anxiety, stress and depression are emotional problems that cause self-licking in dogs. Anxiety and stress can be caused by changes or the absence of the owner or a family member. If the dog is affected by an undetected health problem, this may also cause stress.


Dogs lick their wounds, as the saliva can speed up the healing process. In addition, the moisture created by the saliva has an anesthetic effect until the water evaporates. You should examine your pet to detect any cuts or open wounds that can cause the licking behavior.


Pain can make a dog lick the affected areas. The licking can help you and the vet identify the source of the problem. For instance, if the dog licks his feet, this may indicate an injury, a fracture or arthritis. Pain can be caused by a wide range of health problems, so you will have to look for additional symptoms that can help you determine the possible problem.

Obsessive licking behavior is not normal and the problem should be tackled before the dog causes hair loss, skin lesions or acral lick dermatitis.