Behavior Mod.

Does Your Dog Lick Things Obsessively?

dog lickDoes your dog lick things obsessively? A dog licking various objects is considered pretty much normal among pet owners and experts. But when a dog obsessively and abnormally licks the floor, or brick walls, or other objects…that is another story. This type of odd behavior might be caused of either a neurological or physical illness. It is one of the hardest of odd canine behaviors to properly diagnose and treat.

The usual reason for dogs licking at things is that they are curious by nature, and they want to investigate things around them. They use it to gather information from whatever they are licking. But when the licking habit comes to the point where you cannot stop or distract him from doing so, then that is where the abnormality comes.

Does Your Dog Lick Things Obsessively?

The cause of obsessive licking could be caused by many illnesses or diseases, or it could just be a bad habit. Therefore it is important to have a check-up with your local veterinarian first to diagnose your dog and explain things, especially when the licking habit started all of a sudden.

  • The first possible cause is lack of nutrients. Because of this, some dogs subconsciously try to cure the deficiencies by licking various inanimate objects around them. So make sure that your dog gets the right nutrients in his daily meals.
  • Your dog may have Cushing’s disease or Hyperadrenocorticism, in which his adrenal gland produces excessive glutocortisoid which can harm or affect many organs in the body such as the kidney and liver. It is also known to cause the excessive floor licking.
  • Liver failure also causes this weird licking habit. The liver failure might have been caused by Cushing’s disease or some other illness.
  • Some neurological diseases can trigger this odd behavior in dogs, as they interrupt some of the normal functions of the body and organs. Examples of such are obsessive-compulsive disorders, in which dogs like to repeat a certain activity or behavior over and over again. Don’t worry though – medical treatment is available for it, and can usually cure this cause.

If no medical disorder or illness was found by the vet, then the problem could be in the dog’s behavior. Perhaps he might have been stressed by a certain event, such as moving to a completely different environment, someone losing a job or getting pregnant, someone dying. Basically, any major event in your life or the dog’s can cause anxiety in your dog. To deal with this, you should maintain a normal physical routine for your dog, and make sure he gets regular exercise, walks, and outdoor games.

Note that this is emphasized by Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) in an answer on his website:

…keep this in mind — dog anxiety is usually caused by a lack of exercise or release of energy. In order for Gina to stop her obsessive licking, she needs to be properly exercised and fulfilled. She has become fixated on licking, and you need to help Gina redirect that frustration into dog exercise and ultimately, balance.

You will probably have to do some detective work yourself. For instance, there may cases where when the obsessive licking only occurs at certain times, such as when visitors come to your house. This may be a symptom that your dog may be poorly socialized, or just has a nervous personality. You can soothe him with some good music and a DAP diffuser to calm him down. His own crate or room can help relieve your dog’s stress. Determine what the dog’s fears are, and take appropriate action.

Boredom can also be the root cause of this licking. Maybe he needs more exercise, play time, walking around the neighborhood, or anything to keep him busy. Dog toys and chew toys can also work. You can also take him to different places such as parks and beaches, or you can go trekking or swimming.

Does your dog lick things obsessively? Overall, you just need some good diagnosis of the problem and the right communication with your best friend to eliminate this odd behavior.

Have you ever experienced this behavior with your dog? If so, please share below how you cured it.



  1. Bentley Navarre

    Jun 19, 2016 at 4:35 am

    My dog only licks things when we go out for a walk. He licks plants, grass, the side of dustbins etc. I think it maybe where other dogs have peed but it does worry me that he might pick up some nasty infection or bug. I always pull him away when I see him doing it, but it’s irritating me now…I can’t seem to stop him from doing this. Is this normal?

  2. Phyllis

    Apr 24, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    My soon to be 11yr old lab have been licking up hair, everything but last few days have eaten a pair of socks, ate the cats toy Crocket Christmas wreath, chewed cord off the tower heater & has thrown up everything
    This behavior has started in last couple years since I have moved from house to delpluxe & seems to have gotten worse since I rescued a kitten this winter
    Not certain if she is acting out against the move & now the kitten plus she has been having more trouble getting in & out of car so that has limited her car rides & walks over last few months
    During winter she seemed content staying inside now as summer a porches she wants to go but has difficulty walking & getting into car
    I have started given her joint meds which she gladly takes every day
    Plus she hates our upstairs neighbor with a passion he isn’t very nice at times & loud

  3. Deborah Miller

    Apr 1, 2016 at 12:21 am

    My dog starts licking the floor and baseboards. She does this every couple of months. Tonight I was told to give her a little salt. She licked it up and stopped lucking the floor.

  4. Lora

    Mar 8, 2016 at 7:16 am

    My 16 year old dashund licks carpet/dog bed covers excessively and we know from the vet that she has adrenal cancer and maybe a neuroligical problem. I have been dealing with this for over 7 months and the vet said that she probably had a year left before the cancer takes over.

    Has anyone been told that the cause of the licking be from the above problems?

    • Mike

      Apr 16, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Lora- I’m sorry to hear of your dachsy condition. I also have one and would be heartbroken to lose him. My Sammy is about 7 years old and within the past year has developed a habit similar to your pup. Sammy LOVES car rides. Unfortunately, he likes to sit on my lap while I Drive. During these rides he CONSTANTLY licks the drivers side window, steering wheel and my pants. It is extremely annoying and I have been unable to stop it. I will discuss it with my vet at his annual checkup this month but thanks for your comment and again I’m sorry to hear of his condition.

      • Lora

        Jun 7, 2016 at 7:07 am

        Hope that there is something that your vet can help you with. I find that if she can pace through the house for a while that it does subside a little but she still insist on licking her bedding.

        I thank you for your compassion for her condition but she is still doing pretty well on a mainly low fat human diet and it has now been over a year since her diagnosis.

  5. Martin Webb

    Jan 30, 2016 at 11:07 am

    My Zoey is a very obsessive licker but after reading the article I hope it’s only anxiety not that I want that for her although I am going to have her checked Zoey just loves the vet HA HA HA anyway I love you ZOEY YOU and all ANIMALS ROCK ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  6. Sharon dean

    Jan 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    My 16 yr old yorkie x has done this all his life. He licks the bed sheets, sofa, me. When he does this, I try to take him out & 9 times out of 10 he needs a poo, because of this I’ve assumed it’s probably to do with anxiety about wanting to go for a poo! We rescued him as a 5 mth old from a dogs home, so maybe it has something to do with his past as a pup in rescue centre? He’s very aggressive towards other dogs also but not sure if there is a connection? Great to hear I’m not the only one with a dog with this problem though. Also heard that probiotic can help with settling a dogs tummy.

  7. Katie

    Dec 17, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Yes please answer if probitics worked or not. My Yorkie has started licking the floor all over and got real sick. She vomited 3 times. Hair was in the second two rounds of vomit. Lits of fuzz and all sorts of things. It started when I came back after leaving her home for four days to visit sick relative.

  8. Nikki

    Sep 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    My family and I have a 4-year-old West Highland/Cairn Terrier we adopted as a puppy of 3 months old. Full of energy and love for all five family members and one year later we purchased a rottweiler puppy 3 months old. They grew up together and the rottweiler follows and does everything my terrier does. Now the rotti is actually drinking the urine of the terrier and it has gotten to point that our terrier will not go out in our backyard because the rotti won’t leave him be, oh yes, they are both males. But what is more of a major problem, the rotti has now started stalking our terrier day and night…he is CONSTANTLY trying to lick him, etc. in the house, everywhere. We have to keep them separated! What type of behavior is this? Please help!

  9. Anonymous

    Aug 19, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Our dog started doing this 2 nights ago. There was a dog show on TV that he was interested in, he kept standing in front of the TV watching the other dogs. Then he started obsessively cleaning the doona on the couch with his front teeth. He couldn’t be stopped. If we physically got in his way to stop him, he’d start cleaning us. If we moved the doona away, he’d do it to the couch. He only does this in the lounge room, not the laundry where he sleeps. I sat in the laundry with him last night after he’d been cleaning in the lounge room, and he didn’t touch me. He doesn’t do it outside either. He hasn’t been having doggy playtime lately as he got expelled from doggy day care for being too noisy. I think he does miss playing with other dogs, and seeing dogs on TV he couldn’t play with started this behaviour and he’s gone a little bit neurotic. I think (and hope) that’s all this is. I think we’ll try having a treasure hunt in the lounge to distract him next time he comes in so he can associate being in the lounge with good things. Any tips would be welcome. He seems to quite enjoy cleaning obsessively, wagging his tail with excitement while he does it.

  10. Snoopy

    Aug 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Can someone help me pick the right food for my dog. My toy poodle doesn’t stop chewing on everything and licking everything. He chews on rugs and all over his body to the point where he bleeds and even pulled out a nail. I have to keep cone on constantly. Thank you.

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