You are accustomed to your dog’s licking. Your furry friend always shows love and affection by licking your face whenever you come home after a long day; you feel overwhelmed by your pet’s response. You gave a gentle, friendly pat on its back to help the dog relax.
We all know that licking is embedded deep into a dog’s nature. The animal not only likes to lick delicious treats, but it also loves to display its emotions through licking. They have a particular affinity for licking things in general.
Sometimes, you will find damp patches on household items, such as sofas, couches, and carpets. All because the pup was bored while you were away for your road trip.
However, a dog that persistently licks furniture and other objects around the house may have some medical issues that need to be sorted out.
So, why do dogs lick furniture? If the clingy attitude of your puppy has become even more bizarre, the article brings forth all the valid reasons behind it. In the end, we will lay down some tips on stopping the “Excessive Licking Behavior” in your canine friend.
Behavioral Issues Behind Licking
Licking in a dog is often due to several logical reasons. Stress, anxiety, loneliness, and simple boredom will compel your pup to start licking the smooth fabric of your carpets, sofa, pillows, couch, and bed. Behavioral and social issues are often the very first reason behind excessive licking behavior.
The simplest explanation behind the furniture-licking habit is boredom. When pups are left at home for long periods, they might develop the habit of licking furniture to kill time.
Anxiety And Stress
A sudden change in their routine or surroundings can initiate stress and anxiety. Maybe you just bought another pet or recently moved to a new neighborhood, or your friend has come over to stay. Dogs prefer to reside in their territory. A change in the dog’s routine makes him anxious, and he starts licking the furniture to reduce stress.
Dogs have an amazingly sharp sense of smell. And if they pick your scent on the sofa, they will lick the fabric to feel relaxed. Your pillows and bedding contain your body prints and sweat. When your pet craves love and affection, it will lick the bedding to feel closer to you.
We all have a habit of eating snacks on the couch. Your canine friend can also sniff the minute food particles engraved in the sofa’s fabric. As soon as the smell of delicious snacks enters its nose, your pup will get every last bit of it by licking it.
To Kill Drowsiness
Most pups and dogs love to lick blankets and pillows. It often happens when the dog is tired but has no intention of falling asleep. The dog will lick the furniture to stay awake and active.
Medical Issues Behind Licking
Smelling and licking help a dog explore the environment around him. However, when the licking behavior becomes uncontrollable, the dog might suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
OCD generally refers to excessive licking, where the dog continually repeats the behavior for extended periods. Under this condition, the pet licks anything and everything within its reach. The dog is so immersed in licking objects that nothing you do will distract him from his favorite pastime.
Dogs of all sizes and breeds are likely to develop canine OCD. Pups that have been raised in confined environments are more susceptible to OCD. Talking to a veterinarian and Behavior Modification Therapist will help you manage the situation.
Symptoms OF OCD
- Dogs spend too much time licking furniture and other surfaces.
- It is impossible to stop a dog during his licking session.
- Excessive licking soon turns into aggressive behavior where the pup will lick his paws and genitals. It will even try to harm other pets around him.
- Licking will soon turn into biting and scratching.
- Over time the dog will continue licking surfaces for a more extended period.
- You will notice red spots on the dog’s skin.
Pica is another possible reason behind the excessive licking behavior. Pica is a condition where the dog craves inedible things and likes to chew on non-food items, such as furniture, towels, washcloths, magazines, books, and even rocks.
Under the influence of this condition, the dog can swallow any object, which can have an adverse impact on its health. If the dog starts craving larger objects, such as stones, it can harm its intestinal tract. Larger objects will get lodged in the intestine, which may lead to surgery. Avoiding food, hormonal imbalance, diabetes, and thyroid problems are common symptoms of Pica.
A vet will address the problem in two different ways. Providing more stimulation and activity can help ease the situation if the problem is associated with behavioral issues. To refrain your pup from ruining your furniture, you can offer them pet chew toys. It’s also recommended to remove the objects favored by your pup. However, if the condition is due to underlying health issues, a proper diagnosis and treatment plan will make your canine friend playful again.
Like humans, dogs also need a well-balanced diet to stay healthy. It means giving dried kibble to your puppy may not be a good idea. Dried Kibbles are usually cooked at a very high temperature which causes the food to lose its nutritional value. At the same time, dogs need to consume meals full of nutrition. Their body especially craves minerals and vitamins.
Lack of vitamins in their regular meal will cause the dog to develop a compulsive licking habit. They want to get the deficient vitamin, even if it comes from the wooden table in your living room!
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD):
Besides malnutrition, dogs also suffer from neurological problems. As your little friend ages, he will start losing his ability to think and react. Dogs over the age of 11 experience Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD).
CCD is an age-related disorder that refers to a slight decrease in the brain’s ability to perform everyday tasks. Besides excessive licking, disorientation, irritability, loss of appetite, lack of self-grooming, impaired memory, and disturbed sleep are common symptoms of dementia in dogs.
If the excessive licking is paired with all the other symptoms on the cue, the dog may suffer from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. To help your dog fight this condition, you can give them supplements high in omega fatty acids, melatonin, and vitamin B. A balanced diet is rich in antioxidants, beta-carotene, carotenoids, and other vitamins.
Digestive disorders such as gastrointestinal issues are common reasons behind a licking dog. Common symptoms that indicate that your dog has an upset stomach include:
- Increased gas,
- Weight loss,
- Lack of appetite.
As the condition worsened, the dog began to have abdominal pain and discomfort. The canine consumes weird objects to ease the pain. For instance, the dog will start licking and chewing stones and grass to relieve abdominal pain. And if they won’t have access to the grass, your strong chairs and soft bedding feels like a great substitute.
Besides digestive disorders, parasitic infections like mites, Giardia, and fleas can also irritate your pet’s stomach, causing it to behave repulsively.
How To Pinpoint The Cause Of Licking?
Your dog is behaving oddly, and you have no idea how to put your finger on the problem, causing it to act bizarrely.
Here are some tips to know the cause of disturbance in your pup’s behavior.
- Have you altered the meal plan of your pup recently? If yes, the pup may be having difficulty digesting the meals.
- Have you been leaving your pup at home for long periods? Being alone the whole day can upset your dog. The pet will start licking furniture because he is bored and craves affection.
- If the licking behavior has become aggressive and intense, you might have somehow encouraged the behavior. You may have absentmindedly given the pup a treat when licking something.
- Is your pet getting old and exhibiting confusing behavior? Look for symptoms that may indicate health issues often found in older dogs.
How To Put A Stop To The Licking Behavior?
If you have successfully found the problem behind licking, then there are several things you can do to prevent your dog from licking the furniture around the house. Training, exercise, socializing, and adding new toys into its crate are some simple things you can do to stop him from licking other stuff.
- Boredom is one of the primary reasons for excessive licking; thus, you must start by eliminating it. Bring new toys for your dog. Something that could keep your dog occupied and curb the impulse of licking. For instance, a ball launcher can be of great help. It will keep your pup engaged for the day, preventing him from chewing on the furniture.
- Dogs need exercise to remain active. Daily work-out for at least 60 minutes allows dogs to utilize all the stored energy. You can also bring another pet into your playdate to help your dog socialize.
- If your dog is licking because of stress and fear, try to remove the stress triggers from the house.
- Use pungent sprays and fragrances to mask your body pheromones. These sprays are available at a pet store and are completely harmless. Apply the spray on the carpet, bed, and couch. You can also use bitter lemon sprays to make the furniture distasteful for the pet.
- Give your pet a well-balanced, healthy diet. Food high in nutrients will satisfy your dog’s needs, preventing it from licking unhealthy things.
- Keep your furniture clean and tidy. Bits and crumbs of food scattered on the couch and bedding provide a good licking ground for your pup. You must clean the surface daily.
Consult A Veterinarian
Consulting a vet is always the last resort when you cannot stop your pet from licking. Excessive licking in dogs occurs for a range of medical reasons.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, canine cognitive dysfunction, Pica, malnutrition, and digestive issues also force the dog to lick and chew things that are not fit for the health in general.
The vet will help you analyze and interpret the medical issues. He will also lay out a proper treatment plan to help you treat your furry friend in the best possible manner.