Some find it adorable. Other’s not so much. But why do dogs lick you? Learn the reasons behind this behavior, if it’s safe, and when you should be concerned. We’ve answered all of your questions below.

Why Do Dogs Lick You?

There isn’t just one reason why dogs lick. There are many potential reasons why your dog is licking you, and it’s important to understand each. For the most part, it’s just innocent love, but if excessive there could be reason to be concerned.  

Because Your Dog Loves You – One of the most common reasons why dogs lick is because they love and adore you. They may see it as a sign of affection or simply want to be close to you.

To Show You They’re Friendly – If a dog licks you when you first meet, it’s likely because they’re trying to show you that they’re friendly. It’s their way of saying, “Hi, I like you!”

We Taste Good – Have you ever noticed that your dog likes to lick your face or lips? This is because we taste good to them! Dogs have an incredibly strong sense of smell, and they love the taste of our skin.

They’re Seeking Attention – Dogs may also lick you as a way to get your attention. If they want something or are feeling needy, licking is one way to try and get you to notice them.

It’s an Instinctual Behavior – Licking is also an instinctual behavior for dogs. When they’re puppies, their mother will lick them to clean them and keep them warm. This licking continues into adulthood as a way to show care and concern.

It Could Be Obsessive-Compulsive – In some cases, excessive licking may signify an underlying health condition, such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. If your dog is licking themselves excessively or you notice they’re only licking one spot on your body, it’s best to speak to your vet.

Is It Safe for Dogs to Lick You?

Now that we know some of the reasons why dogs lick, is it safe for them to lick us?

Generally speaking, yes – as long as your dog isn’t licking you in an area that’s open and vulnerable to infection. However, there are a few exceptions:

If Your Dog Has Canker Sores

Canker sores are small ulcers that can form in the mouth. If your dog has them, it’s best not to let them lick you as they can spread the sores. 

If You Have an Open Wound

Similarly, if you have an open wound, it’s best to keep your dog away until it heals. Otherwise, they may lick the area and spread bacteria, leading to infection.

When in Doubt, Ask Your Vet

If you’re ever unsure about whether or not it’s safe for your dog to lick you, the best thing to do is ask your vet. They’ll be able to give you specific advice based on your dog’s health and any underlying conditions.

Can You Make a Dog Stop Licking?

If you don’t want your dog to lick you, there are a few things you can do to discourage them.

One is to give them a toy or bone to chew on instead. You can also try spraying your dog with water or using a loud noise (like a clap) to startle them when they start licking.

If these methods don’t work, you may need to speak to a trainer about more intensive behavior modification.

When to Speak to Your Vet Because of Excessive Licking

As we mentioned before, excessive licking can sometimes signify an underlying health condition. If your dog is licking more than usual or only licking one spot on your body, it’s best to speak to your vet.

They’ll be able to do a physical examination and may order some tests to help determine the cause of your dog’s licking.  In some cases, treatment may be necessary to help your dog feel better.

If you find that stress may be the issue, there are some options to help your pet. One such option is trying CBD to reduce stress and anxiety.

FAQ:

Is it safe for dogs to lick you?

Generally speaking, yes – as long as your dog isn’t licking you in an area that’s open and vulnerable to infection.

Can you make a dog stop licking?

Yes, with proper training you can discourage licking. However, it’s crucial to determine why your dog is licking you. If it’s possible that it’s due to health reasons, it’s crucial to make sure you resolve them before working on training.

When should you speak to your vet because of excessive licking?

There could be numerous reasons why your dog licks you excessively, such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

However, if your dog is licking themselves excessively or you notice they’re only licking one spot on your body, it’s best to speak to your vet. They’ll be able to do a physical examination and may order some tests to help determine the cause of your dog’s licking.

Conclusion

So why do dogs lick? There are many reasons, but most of them fall into one of six categories: because they love you, to show friendliness, because we taste good, as an instinctual behavior, out of obsessive-compulsive behavior, or because of an underlying health condition.

If your dog is licking you more than usual, it’s best to speak to your vet to determine the cause. Thank you for reading!

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