Why does my pet constantly lick themself?

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Why does my pet constantly lick themself?

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a lollipop and why does it seem like my dog is constantly licking himself? While we might never know the real number of licks we do know why our pets have an affinity to licking anything and everything.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a lollipop and why does it seem like my dog is constantly licking himself? While we might never know the real number of licks we do know why our pets have an affinity to licking anything and everything.

Taste is one of the 5 senses and for our pets it's one of the most important. When a dog licks it's actually how they get a feel for their surroundings. Occasional licking is completely normal and shouldn’t be discouraged. But if you have a pet that seems to be licking excessively it can be an indication of a variety of underlying problems. This can also lead to problems and injuries such as hot spots. 

Licking, for the majority of the time, is completely natural behavior for pets. It can be a sign of affection and love for example when they try to give you kisses for being their friend. It’s also how they groom themselves and taste things. Moreover some licking can be to soothe and calm themselves.  

So what's too much licking? If you have a pet that doesn't stop, not even when instigated or distracted. They may even lick constantly at a specific area like a paw, their genitals, their muzzle, or other objects like the floor, walls and furniture. This is a sign something more is going on!

Uncontrollable licking can mean a variety of things like allergies, skin irritations, arthritis, pain, nausea, or even anxiety. Too much can cause other issues like hair loss and skin issues. So how do you determine what the cause is and how can you fix their behavior?

The next steps are the easiest and should help to point out the cause. Do you notice if they only lick at certain times of the day or in specific situations, are you able to distract them from it and is their focus only on one spot? Because our pets can’t talk to us these are the most important clues. If you notice it's only certain times of the year or perhaps they only lick their paws and undercarriage this can be a sign of environmental allergies or a reaction to something they are laying in or walking through. Especially here in Florida so many different things are blooming throughout the year and your pets can be just as sensitive to this as you are. Keeping a clean chemical free environment for your pets is important especially because they absorb everything through their paws. The skin being the largest organ is usually the first place you will see an issue particularly if your pet is trying to detox. A common misconception with yard sprayings is that once it dries its safe. This isn't true and usually your pets will walk through this and then groom themselves which will immediately put these harmful chemicals into their body. Rain won't help either; it doesn't wash it away but instead brings it fresh to the surface. It’s important to remember this when taking your pets on a walk particularly through environments you have no control over like parks and your neighbors yard. Wiping your pet's body and paws off with a damp cloth, just water on a washcloth, every time they come in from outside can help. This will rid your pet of these irritating allergens but also the chemicals they may have walked through or laid in. Keeping the inside of your home chemical free is also important. If you have a pet that is licking the floor and walls it could be because of a cleaner being used. Our pets are like our kids so it's crucial we keep anything harmful away from them and their mouths.

 Once a month bathing with any natural gentle shampoo can help keep their skin and coats healthy too. Over bathing, anything from once a week to three times a month can cause issues all on their own! When you over bathe you can cause your pets skin to react negatively which can be your whole issue or worsen an existing one. Regular brushing will help especially when the seasons change and they blow their coats, this will also give you a good idea of any flea or tick issues! When combing through your pet's coat its imperative to look for any flea dirt which looks like little pieces of black pepper along their skin. The neck, under arms, stomach, and base of tail are all favorite spots for these blood sucking pests. If you remember in one of our past blogs we have many ways to deal with these things naturally and safely. 

  Now maybe you've done all of this and you still have a dog constantly licking! Do they have any redness, spots? Are they licking a lot at their muzzle or maybe you notice it's worse after they eat? The next step would be to look at their diet and as you know we hold your pets' nutrition to a high standard. Quality matters first and foremost, your pet might not even have a true food allergy as much as it's just all the junk in their current food. Nine times out of ten when you switch to a better food and get away from poor quality ingredients it will make a big difference!

Pain or discomfort can be another reason your pets constantly licking themselves. Maybe you’ve noticed they won’t leave one of their paws alone no matter what you do. Checking their nails for cracks or breaks is a great place to start. Besides it's a great reminder to keep their nails trimmed. Also make sure their pads are not cracked or damaged and there aren't any foreign objects stuck between their toes. Maybe they’ve pulled a muscle or have simply just strained themselves. Sometimes when they lick because of pain it doesn’t mean the spot they are licking is the one in pain. It could be their back, hips, or another spot they can’t reach! Keeping your pets joints healthy with any of our glucosamine supplements can help keep them in tip top shape. And for the odd aches and pains we do have natural pain relievers and CBD oil.

Now for some, your pets could simply be suffering from anxiety. You may notice they only start licking themselves once its time for you to leave for work or for a night on the town. Soothing your pets anxiety and also using different distractions like bones and puzzles can make all the difference. CBD oil can also alleviate some of the more stressed out pets that don't enjoy being home alone. The main point is that by giving your pets something that gives them some enjoyment and distraction it will also keep them from harming themselves.

   It's important to remember not to punish your pets for their licking. For some animals they simply just like to lick. But taking the time to eliminate what could be the cause will help both you and your pet! Some dogs lick when they’re in pain while others do it to soothe their anxiety! But taking the time to eliminate what could be the cause will help both you and your pet!


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