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Why Does My Dog Lick Himself Excessively?

Most dogs lick themselves on the odd occasion, which is quite normal behavior, but if your dog starts to lick himself all the time, then you can take this as an indication that there is something wrong, either physically or emotionally, or even both. Some of the factors that could be causing your dog to lick excessively are:


Allergies irritate the skin, which usually causes itchiness, which in turn, causes your dog to lick the affected area. His saliva will give him temporary relief by cooling his skin.

Dogs, like humans, can be allergic to almost anything. From the detergent you use to wash his blankets to an ingredient in his food, anything could be making your pup itchy. The best way to figure out what your dog might be allergic or sensitive too (aside from testing), is to eliminate one thing at a time, and see if there is an improvement. Keep a record of what you're testing, and try to remove it for a few days to a week, so you can really see the results.

Tiny Bugs

Mites and fleas are external parasites can cause plenty of discomfort to your dog, and again, he will try to ease his discomfort by licking his skin as much as possible.

Fleas are usually fairly easy to spot, particularly behind the ears and at the base of the tail, but mites can be a little harder to spot. Use a good quality flea shampoo, and speak to your veterinarian about an oral or topical treatment to keep the little biters at bay!

Fungal Infections

Bacterial or fungal infections of the skin aren't just a human problem! Your dog could be suffering from hives, ringworm, mange and eczema will cause your dog’s skin to become itchy, and he will try to deal with the problem as best he can, by licking the affected area.

Anxiety or Stress

Emotional problems might also cause licking. If you have ruled out any possible medical conditions can’t be found which are causing your dog to lick himself obsessively, then it is very likely an emotional issue such as stress, depression, or anxiety, that are the cause of the problem.Licking can be soothing to your dog, even if it causes a whole new set of problems!

Wounds or Pain

Cuts or open wounds are another common cause for dogs licking. Apart from the saliva numbing the area for a while, it also helps heal wounds a lot faster. Check to see if your dog has any open wounds or cuts that are causing him to lick excessively.

Your dog will also lick any area on his body that is causing him pain. His excessive licking could be an indication that he has arthritis, a fracture, or some other type of injury.

Long Term Problems with Licking

You might think licking is harmless, or at the most, annoying to you. But the truth is, it can cause problems in the long term, if it's not treated. Hair loss, skin conditions and lick granulomas can all be the results of excessive licking, so if you notice a problem, talk to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Treating the problem, or preventing habitual licking using an Elizabethan collar or similar device are all good ways to limit licking in dogs.

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