A key characteristic of dogs is their tendency to lick. They use licking to groom themselves and their young, show affection to others, drink water, taste different objects and foods, and much more. While dogs are constantly licking, their habits can appear out of the ordinary. There are many factors that can cause dogs to lick unusual things or lick more frequently. If you have noticed your dog licking the floor recently, here are the probable causes for their behavior.
Discomfort in the Digestive System and Stomach
If your dog has been licking many strange surfaces recently, it is possible they could have a condition called ELS, or excessive licking of surfaces. When dogs experience gastrointestinal issues and have pain or discomfort, they resort to licking as a way to soothe their stomachs. These issues could be as trivial as a stomachache caused by eating something that disagreed with their system or consuming a foreign object. However, if your dog continues to display symptoms of ELS over a long period of time, it may be helpful to take them to a veterinarian to ensure that they are healthy and have no underlying intestinal conditions.
Another potential cause for ELS could be that your dog is suffering from anxiety. This could be due to separation, a chemical imbalance, a poor diet, the presence of strangers, or new environments. When a dog experiences built-up stress and anxiety, they can begin licking as a way to release the discomfort and attempt to soothe themself. One way to tell if your dog is licking the floor due to anxiety is to watch for panting after an episode of licking. Dogs often pant when anxious, and this may be heightened by excessive licking. There are many ways to treat a dog’s anxiety and make sure they are content and happy. Before taking your dog to the veterinarian, you may want to try out a few products and solutions like anxiety vests, supplements, and establishing a comforting routine.
Without enough attention and activity, dogs are incredibly susceptible to boredom. In order to release pent-up energy, they may begin licking the floor or other surfaces frequently. This will likely be incessant and ongoing as licking is not an extremely effective manner to cure boredom. In order to fix this, it is important to establish a good exercise routine for your dog – take them out on walks daily, play fetch, or do anything else that lets them expel some of their excess energy. You can also purchase various toys for your dog if you have a busy schedule that limits your ability to give them exercise.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
While obsessive compulsive order, or OCD, is known for being common in humans, dogs can also suffer from it. In dogs, OCD is often triggered by a stressful situation or experience that causes them to adopt a habit such as licking the floor. If they continue to seek comfort in this way, they can develop OCD which makes the habit difficult to break. The most susceptible dog breeds to OCD include Dobermans, Jack Russel terriers, German shepherds, and Great Danes. Some methods to minimize your dog’s compulsive behavior are providing them with ample exercise, making sure you aren’t reinforcing their behavior, and ensuring that they are in a stress-free environment. Speaking to a veterinarian about medication for your dog’s behavior is also a viable option.
Sometimes, the answer to why your dog is licking the floor could be as simple as the taste of the floor itself. If anything was spilled on the floor or it wasn’t properly cleaned, odds are your dog will smell it and become curious. While dogs have significantly fewer taste buds than us – humans have around 9,000 while dogs have closer to 1,700 – they have more specialized taste buds that react differently to certain ingredients such as water. With these specialized taste buds, dogs will take any opportunity they can get to try new foods, and will often lick residue from surfaces such as floors. While this is perfectly normal, it is important to ensure that your floors are clean in case your dog tries to lick anything that may be poisonous or harmful to them.
Dogs are incredibly curious creatures that love to explore the world with all five senses. They often lick things that smell good or spark their interest, which is a completely natural and healthy thing for them to do. While they might lick the floor sometimes, there should really only be reason to worry if you notice the licking becoming excessive. Dogs are resilient creatures with good instincts and capability to learn, and it is often easy to change their behavior and improve their health. It is a good idea to pay attention to your dog’s behavior in case you notice anything out of the ordinary, but with the right amount of attention and care your dog should be completely healthy and content.
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