Why Does My Dog Lick Everything? (The Answer May Surprise You)

Picture of a dog licking

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Do you have a dog that licks everything in sight? It’s common for our canine friends to try to taste the world with their tongues. Unfortunately, this behavior is not what you want! Thankfully, your dog can be trained not to do it excessively.

Why Does My Dog Lick Everything?

Dogs lick everything for two main reasons. 

First, dogs use their senses of taste and smell to explore the world around them and process information. They’ll use the information they gather to understand their surroundings.

Taste and smell are critical to dogs, giving them a detailed worldview. And in the roof of your dog’s mouth is an organ that helps them taste and smell simultaneously, known as the Jacobson’s Organ. It connects the nasal cavity to the roof of his mouth.

The other reason is communication. Dogs will lick to show affection, submission, or in anxiety. They may also do it so that they can get your attention. If your dog is licking everything, this could signify many different things.

Why Does My Dog Lick Everything at Night?

Your dog may be licking more at night because of an upset stomach or pain. Licking can sometimes alleviate discomfort because it tricks a dog’s brain into ignoring the sensation causing them pain. 

Your pet may also be hungry and looking for something that can be eaten. Providing them something to eat or chew in the evenings could curb this behavior.

Why Does My Dog Lick Everything in the Morning?

If your dog is licking things in the morning, particularly you, it may be because they’re happy to see you. Humans also secret sweat and pheromones in their sleep, two things that are attractive to dogs and cause them to lick.

What Does My Dog Lick Everything in the House?

It could signify anxiety or a medical condition if your dog licks things that aren’t people, food, or themselves. It may also indicate that your dog is bored. Licking the items in your home could be passing the time and keeping busy.

What Happens If My Dog Licks Everything?

If your dog licks the occasional item or person, it’s probably not a big deal. If your dog licks certain items consistently, you’ll want to discourage that behavior. You don’t want your pet to consume toxic chemicals or ingest foreign materials.

Not to mention, you probably just don’t want your dog repeatedly licking that one pillow on your couch and getting it gross.

How Can I Keep My Dog From Licking Everything?

You should rule out if this behavior is linked to anxiety, medical issue, or dietary concern. Your best bet may be to reach out to your veterinarian first and have them assess the situation.

If there’s nothing medically concerning, and the root of this is a behavioral issue, you can discourage the licking by giving them other things to do. Take away whatever is being licked the most, and start offering them positive reinforcement instead with treats and new chewable toys to pass the time.

Tips from Our Vets

Dogs make excellent companions and bring so much joy to our lives. Unfortunately, however, they cannot speak to us.

If your pet exhibits odd behavior, it can be worrisome and difficult to know if the behavior is normal or a reason for concern.

Not sure why your dog is exhibiting a specific behavior?

  • Some behaviors can seem very odd but may be completely normal.
  • Others could signal illness or injury.
  • Due to the lack of ability for a dog to communicate with us verbally, it is imperative to pay close attention to what the dog is telling us through their behavioral changes.

The most important takeaway is that if you are ever concerned about a behavior that your dog is displaying, your best resource for information is your veterinarian.

In general, a new behavior that is not typical for your dog should be investigated. Examples would be:

  • Not eating
  • Suddenly sleeping more than usual
  • Being reluctant to go on walks or to play
  • Becoming aggressive or grumpy when interacting with other people or pets

These behavior changes most commonly indicate that something is wrong, and your pet needs to see their veterinarian as soon as possible. It is much easier and more likely to be successful, to treat an illness early in its course as opposed to waiting until the dog is very sick.

Other odd behaviors include:

  • Eating feces
  • Chasing their tail
  • Sudden bursts of activity (known as the “zoomies”)

These may be completely normal. However, if you notice a drastic change in your dog, for example, they never exhibited one of these behaviors, and now they suddenly are, it is prudent to have them examined by their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Even if the behavior is normal, it may lead to unintended issues.

For example, young dogs consuming their feces or the feces of other dogs can be a normal behavior but can lead to gastrointestinal upset as well as intestinal parasitism.

Parasites from your dog can cause serious health complications, not only for your dog, but also for you and your family, as many are transmissible to humans.

Licking of the feet or scratching may seem like normal dog behavior but typically indicates a health issue such as allergies, fleas, or skin infection.

Left untreated, these issues will worsen and cause additional discomfort for your dog.

Remember that your best source of reliable health information for your dog is your veterinarian. Because dogs cannot verbally communicate with us, it is essential to be proactive with any possible health concerns.

Working with a trusted veterinarian as your partner will ensure many happy and healthy years for both you and your dog.

Final Thoughts: Why Does My Dog Lick Everything? 

They Lick Everything Because: 

  • Dogs use their sense of taste to explore the environment.
  • Dogs lick everything to convey their emotions.
  • Dogs lick everything if they’re bored, anxious, or hungry.
  • You can keep your dog from licking everything by offering them positive reinforcement and different stimuli. 

If you’re looking for answers to explain your dog’s behaviors, you can check out our series of guides on why dogs do what they do:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.