Let’s know about Why do dogs lick. Some pets have always had a tendency to lick themselves, other members of their species, and even their owners (i.e. us humans). Some of the pets that come to our mind are dogs, cats and rabbits.
But why do they do this?
In this article we will try to find out the reasons behind such behavior (more focus will be on dogs). Also, we will throw light on some related topics – does dog licking pose any health risk, are there some precautions we need to follow, etc.
Why do dogs lick?
Many pets lick themselves, random objects, and even people. Dogs probably top this list. Some people like this habit of theirs, while others find it annoying, and even undesirable. But what are the reasons behind this habit of dogs?
Why do pet dogs lick you?
Dogs lick people a lot, especially if you are their favorite owner/friend. However, sometimes they start licking even when you are not doing anything, such as when you are sleeping.
They do this mainly for three reasons:
- Mode of Communication: Dogs cannot speak, but as you all know they are very sociable. They try to send us messages in different ways – by barking, by body language, and even by licking. When a dog licks you, he may just be saying hello, or welcoming you home, or saying he misses/loves you, or maybe he wants something from you (water, food), or maybe he just wants you to take him out. You’ll notice that dogs tend to lick more at caregivers who feed them or play with them frequently.
- Detective: Dogs gather a lot of information through their senses of smell and taste. So, often dogs lick their owners just to find out what you’ve eaten recently, or maybe where you’ve been! Sometimes, some microscopic food particles stick near our mouth and dogs may get attracted to them.
- Taste: Yes, your dog may lick you excessively because you find it tasty! Sometimes, dogs develop a taste for the salt in our sweat and like to lick it off.
Why do dogs lick their genitals?
Although dogs do not groom themselves to the extent of cats, they do clean themselves and their puppies to some extent. One of the areas of interest for almost all dogs is their private parts. It’s a habit that many dog owners find very bad. But why do they do this?
Often, they do this because of a lack of cleanliness. Although you cannot stop this habit completely, but if you keep them clean, they will feel less need to lick themselves clean. Unhygienic living conditions can cause them to be very itchy, which can get worse if they are infested with fleas.
Is it safe for my dog to lick me?
In short, we have to say that getting licked by your pet dog is probably not a good thing for you. You may not like to hear this, but it is the truth. There are some solid reasons behind this.
Is it unhygienic to let a dog lick your face?
Of course! Just take a look at all the places your dog licks, and sometimes the unruly things he eats. Dogs are known to lick their private parts and drink water from toilets. And I have also seen many dogs eating mud and filth in public places. Imagine your dog licking you after that. Definitely unhygienic!
Is dog saliva harmful?
Yes, dog saliva is full of various bacteria and parasites and can prove to be harmful for you. (Though the risk here is not as high as it is in the case of cats). This risk exists even if your dog is healthy.
However, if your dog becomes ill, say infected with rabies, then his lick/bite can prove to be extremely fatal for you.
However, a dog’s saliva is actually good for itself, as it has medicinal properties for it. If a dog gets hurt, it can heal itself by licking the area, because dog saliva has anti-bacterial properties. However, if the dog is injured in a place where it cannot lick, the injury can be fatal (as the open wound can become infected).
How to stop your dog from excessive licking?
We have various tricks in our arsenal that can help you reduce your dog’s excessive licking habit.
regular cleaning and grooming
The more regularly you clean and bathe your dog, the less it will have to groom itself.
- Dogs can be easily trained to reduce their licking at us, or possibly to stop licking altogether.
- Distract their attention and change their licking pattern. Whenever your dog tries to lick your face, you can offer your hand to him. Washing your hands is much easier than washing your face over and over, and certainly less unhygienic.
Even if you don’t, at least don’t inadvertently encourage your dog to lick you. If your dog licks you and you laugh, he may do it more in the future. Dogs are smart creatures – they quickly learn what you like and what you don’t.
My dog used to lick my hands, but he never licked anyone else in my family much because he didn’t like it. He learned this very quickly and adjusted his behavior accordingly. We never even trained him for this. He learned it naturally over time.