Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves? The Simplest Explanation

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Why do dogs lick themselves? The reasons for this behavior are three-fold. First, licking helps to clean their coats and skin of dirt and other substances.

Second, it helps to maintain an optimum level of moisture in the fur. Lastly, it can be a signal that they are feeling pain or fear (although not always).

As for why they do it excessively? There are many possible reasons for this behavior; however, one of the most common ones is because they’re experiencing some sort of discomfort.

This discomfort could be due to food allergies, fleas or even an insect bite or sting. If you think your dog might be exhibiting signs of excessive licking, please consult your veterinarian!

This article explores the various reasons why dogs might lick themselves, as well as how to help them stop doing this if you find it frustrating or disturbing, and what you can do to help your pup stay cleaner for longer!

Why do dogs lick themselves?

1. To clean their coats: Most dogs who lick themselves do it to help keep their coat clean and moist. They might also lick themselves to alleviate pain.

Dogs have a specialized gland that makes a naturally antiseptic saliva, similar to a human’s bile. This saliva can be used to clean their coats, help get rid of ticks and help prevent infections.

When a dog licks themselves, the saliva is released into the skin, and the liquid dries within a couple of minutes. At that point, the excess saliva is often recirculated back into the dog’s body, helping to rid them of potential germs.

2. To help remove dirt and other substances: When a dog licks their fur, the saliva is broken down into a nutrient-rich fluid called the fatty acids.

What are some common reasons for excessive licking?

1. Food allergies.

Although it may sound surprising to think that animals would be allergic to something that’s not ingested, this is actually the case for some dogs.

These animals may lick their bodies and lick their mouths excessively due to a serious skin condition called ectoparasites. For example, if your dog has an allergy to fleas, then it’s not just you who is having a bad time!

2. Intense itching.

Most dogs will lick themselves regularly due to an itch that is being experienced, or for no apparent reason at all.

This could be a sign that they are trying to scratch an itch, or could simply be a sign that they are concerned about their coat. Regardless, they shouldn’t be constantly licking themselves like this.

How To Stop Dogs From Licking Themselves?

The problem of excessive licking is not the subject of this article, as the issue of trying to stop dogs from doing this behavior in the first place is a very common problem that can arise in all dogs, not just dogs with special conditions.

Many animals (including humans!) have specific behaviors that they’re accustomed to doing to relieve themselves of their bodily waste.

This includes urinating, defecating and even licking their paws to remove dirt and other substances from between their toes.

In many cases, these animal behaviors serve no purpose, and can actually cause the animal considerable discomfort and pain (think nails being bitten down).

If you find that your dog is excessively licking, it could be due to food allergies, fleas or even an insect bite or sting.

How to help your dog stay cleaner for longer?

It’s always a good idea to regularly check your dog’s hair and skin to make sure that they’re not suffering from any bacterial infections or other skin infections.

If your dog does have any sort of skin infection, it’s best to consult your vet in order to obtain an appropriate treatment plan.

But, there’s no need to stress about excessive licking and grooming. If you notice that your dog is licking themselves excessively, it’s probably just a sign that they’re feeling stressed or uncomfortable.

If this is the case, try to distract your dog from licking by giving them a playful ball to play with, for example.


The reason why you might see your pup licking themselves is because of a number of factors. Some of these include allergies, fleas and even external pain.

Many dogs have allergies and when their bodies can’t cope with the attack, they sometimes lick themselves to relieve themselves.

Many dogs also have anxiety and simply getting out of the house can cause them to be fearful, which will cause them to lick themselves excessively.

Another common reason for excessive licking is anxiety. Whether it’s simply wanting to get out of the house, or they’re experiencing a particularly stressful day (think daycare, the vet or another stressful situation), the more anxious the dog, the more they will lick themselves.

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