Dog owners often appreciate those loving, slobbery kisses that greet them every time they come home. But, have you ever wondered the real reason behind those licks?
Dogs use their senses a bit differently than humans. Although smell is their main good sense, licking also serves all sorts of purposes in a dog’s world ranging from love, to submission, and may even be due to a possible medical condition. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why your favorite K9 companion may be licking:
- Information Gathering – By licking molecules off of the folds of their noses and pulling them into their mouth, dogs can gain a great deal of additional information about the world around him.
- Cleaning – Mother dog’s lick their puppies to stimulate elimination and to clean them up.
- Communication & Submission – It’s extremely common for dogs that want to present themselves as non-threatening to lick other dogs on or near their mouths. It’s their way of saying “Hey, I’m friendly, and I don’t want any trouble.”
- Destressing – For dogs, licking causes the release of endorphins, which makes them happy and feel better.
- Occupation – Some dogs who are nervous or bored might resort to licking anything and everything around them. But, watch out, some dogs will lick excessively until they have sores.
- Affection – A dog’s brain releases dopamine when he or she looks at their human. And, for a human, nothing compares to the joy of getting a kiss from their pup! Of course, it may seem kind of gross, but dogs are also attracted to the salt on our skin. It’s intriguing to them, as they tend to explore the world with their mouths and are comforted by the scent of their owners. It’s for this same reason that we sometimes find them sneaking off with our socks and underwear. So, those doggy kisses are both tasty and rewarding for our pets.
- Medical Condition – Dogs that repeatedly lick the same spot might be suffering from an issue that needs a specialist’s intervention. This might be due to anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In some instances, the licking could also be due to a persistent itch caused by allergies. If you find your dog frequently licking their anal area, they may be suffering from allergies or may need their anal glands expressed. Whatever the circumstance, when a pet starts obsessively licking themselves, other people or an object, it’s wise to speak with your veterinarian who may recommend medical treatment or a behavioral consultation.
In most cases, licking is harmless, so owners can go on appreciating their expressed affection and company. After all, it’s their way of showing that they both love and respect you.