Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves?

Dogs Lick Themselves

I have had a LONG day and all I want to do is curl up on the couch and watch my favorite show with a glass of red wine in hand. The last thing I want is to have my best animal friend sit next to me and start licking there paws, legs, private areas, etc.

Why do dogs lick themselves? Dogs lick themselves because they have OCD that needs treating or may have a sore, fleas, dermatitis, hot spots, or may just trying to clean them self.

Why Do Dogs Lick All Parts Of Their Body?

  • Dogs don’t lick themselves because they want to irritate you. Most dogs lick parts of their body to clean themselves. This is the case with most animals. In the wild, licking is a learned trait from their mother. A dog mother cleans her pups as soon as they are born to clean them and wake them up.
  • Dogs may lick specific areas of the body more than others when they have a wound or sore in that area. To stop this behavior to give it time to heal, you may have to put a cone on your dogs head. If the wound is bad enough, you may have to seek medical attention. Usually once the wound is healed, the dog will stop licking in that area.
  • People say that fleas are a dogs best friend. As owners, we hate that saying and want fleas to stay as far away from our dogs we love so dearly. Fleas can cause your dog to bite or lick fleas that get on there skin. This is your dogs way of killing them, that is if there teeth are fast enough.
  • Did you know that dogs can have skin issues just like you and me? Dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes your dogs skin to become itchy or inflamed. It may be hard to pin point what is causing this, but there may be a good chance your dog is licking themselves excessively to help ease this itchy, painful feeling. Just like we can have a food or environmental allergy, dogs can have them too. Most people call a localized area of a dogs skin that is irritated and maybe infected a hot spot.

How do you treat Dermatitis and/or Hot Spots?

If you believe your dog suffers from Dermatitis and/or Hot Spots, please visit your Vet (See “What To Expect At A Pet Visit” or “How Much Are Pet Visits?“). Waiting for it to heal on its own can make the problem worse. To treat this effectively, your Vet will need to find the reason behind the skin condition. Most Vets will start with a physical exam, then suggest more testing, such as a skin scrape or blood work. Once your Vet has an idea of the underlying condition, they may suggest specific treatments. Here are some options your vet will give you.

  • To treat your dogs skin condition you can try to keep the area(s) clean by using medicated wipes or irrigating it with gentle antiseptic solutions, like chlorhexidine.
  • Be sure to cut any hair around the wounds, so they do to get matted on the wound. Hair within the wound may cause further irritation. You may even have to trim back their nails if that is interferring.
  • Purchase a cone (Elizabethan collar) to prevent your dog from licking the affected areas.
  • Your Vet may prescribe topical or oral steroids and/or antibiotics if they believe the Dermatitis is severe enough.

After your Dog has been seen by a Vet, has been diagnosed, and you have agreed to start their recommended course of treatment, your Best Fur Friend should be better in no time.

MY EXPERIENCE: When we rescued our Black Lab, she had just been spayed and still had her cone on her head to keep her from licking her stitches. She was the only dog at the SPCA that did not bark and her demeanor was very calm. We lost a 15 lb poodle mix a year prior and had our Cavachon (then 11) at home. We really want our Boys’ to grow up with at least one dog. We had to consider going from 2 small dogs to adding a very large black lab. My boys both cried to get her (BIG SURPRISE THERE), so YES, we got this beautiful 90 lb black lab. After researching and purchasing everything we needed for our big black beauty, we are lucky that all the items we bought for her, we still have today. I bought the Kong collar and leash with a pocket that I put her poop bags, a few treats, and hand sanitizer in. It took some researched, but I found a large dog crate and a crate bed that would work, as well as a few dog beds to sleep on throughout the house. We never had a dog that shed before, so researching the best brush was interesting. I ended up purchasing the furmanator that gets the underneath hair really well.

Fast forward a few weeks, she started biting and itching all the time. I noticed several red scaly spots on both of her sides. I took her to the Vet for her well visit and asked about her skin. The doctor told me it was most likely environmental Dermatitis. She was put on antibiotics and steroids and our Vet told us to use Chlorhexidine Antiseptic wipes on her sores. She also recommended we bath her in medicated shampoo and medicated conditioner. This seemed to help, but as soon as the steroids ended, it all came back. I decided I needed to research Black Labs and what worked for others with a similar condition. I found out this was more common that I thought. After extensive research, I changed her diet to 4-health dry dog food. To this day, I get a bag of Grain Free 4-health and a bag of Untamed 4-health dog food and mix the two together. I also started giving her a Daily multivitamin treat and a fish oil treats. We have had her 3 years now, and she is doing great…skin and all.

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*This article is for information purposes only and any health concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian.

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