10 Solutions to Dog Licking Problems

Dog licking problems are caused for a variety of reasons. Dogs often lick their skin when they are in pain or feeling itchy. They may have allergies to food, pollen, mold, house dust mites, insect bites, plants, or hundreds of other irritants. Some dogs lick excessively when they are bored or stressed.

If your dog is focusing all his licking in one spot, he's probably injured or has a skin infection. Licking all over his body may indicate that he has an allergy or is anxious.

There are a number of ways to stop the licking and help your dog's skin recover.

  1. Check the area being licked. Dogs sometimes lick at one particular spot if they are trying to get rid of something stuck in their fur or skin. If you see a thorn or burr, gently remove it for him.
  2. Look closely for fleas. Comb through your dog's coat with a fine-toothed comb, looking for fleas or gritty particles that look like pepper, which are the wastes fleas leave behind. If you find either, give your dog a bath with a flea shampoo. Then use an ongoing flea control powder or spray. Treat your home and yard with an insecticide spray that will kill eggs, larvae, and adult fleas. It can take up to 7 days after treatment for the itching to go away and for your dog to stop licking.
  3. Change his diet. Dogs that are allergic to certain foods may get skin irritation. Try giving your dog different food that has none of the ingredients of his usual diet. Then, see if the licking stops. Also, make sure your pooch isn't getting food from somewhere else. He may be eating the cat's food or going through the garbage. The neighbors or someone in your household may be giving him food. Dogs are also notorious for swiping food out of toddlers' hands.
  4. Refocus his attention. When you see your dog furiously licking himself, distract him by giving him some attention. Provide something to chew, such as a bone or chew toy. This alleviates licking due to boredom and stress.
  5. Help relieve the pain. Dogs with painful conditions, like arthritis, will often lick furiously at the offending spot. In addition to a Veterinarian's care, you can also massage the sore area for 10 minutes at a time. Or apply a heating pad.
  6. Try an Anti-Licking Ointment or Spray. Pet stores sell topical anti-licking products that leave a bitter taste.

    This is a popular spray that will stop your canine friend's self destructive behavior.

  7. Increase his exercise. Some dogs lick excessively because they have pent up energy. Get his paws moving. A tired dog has less energy to lick.
  8. Keep allergies at bay. Dogs with allergies tend to be irritated the most on their face, feet, and backside. Keep windows and doors closed during heavy pollination seasons. Keep your dog indoors in the morning (when the pollen count is at its highest) and on windy days.
  9. Give him fast relief. A cool bath or a spritz of witch hazel gives instant, short term relief.
  10. Protect the skin. Occasionally, dogs will lick themselves so vigorously and for such a long time, that they damage the skin. The resulting sores are called lick granulomas, which can lead to serious infections and take a long time to heal. Bandage the area or fit your dog with an Elizabethan collar (looks like a lampshade around his head). This will prevent your dog from licking and give the area a chance to heal.

Return from Dog Licking Problems to Health.

Return from Dog Licking Problems to Home Page.

Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.