For dogs, licking is a common way of relating to the environment, with other congeners, other animals and, also, with us. Therefore, in this Animal Expert article we will focus on explaining why a dog licks the ground, a usual behavior that many tutors do not quite understand.
This behavior can occur sporadically or become a repetitive or stereotyped behavior. So, that a dog licks the ground enters normality but, if this licking becomes an obsession, can you tell us a problem We will have to consult with a specialist. If your dog licks the floor, keep reading!
What does it mean when a dog licks the ground?
The simplest explanation for why a dog licks the floor would be to understand it as a activity included in the usual exploration of its surroundings. As is well known, dogs sniff constantly. They smell like us, our belongings and, when we accompany them for a walk, it is easy for us to have to stop on multiple occasions while sniffing, with great attention, herbs, corners, tires or other dogs. Sniff part of normal behavior of a healthy dog, in fact, in those collected after situations of abuse, it is easy to verify that this behavior is inhibited by fear.
Inside of olfactory exploration of the environment, when the dog is facing a smell that is especially interesting, we can see that lick the area, which is usually the ground. It is also possible that he remains immobile while smelling it and begins to make movements with the tongue, audible as clicks, while drops of saliva fall, or that, on the contrary, we see that the dog licks the ground desperately, but without being a obsessive behavior
As a summary, if you wonder what it means when a dog licks the ground the simplest answer is that he is exploring, he has detected an interesting and intense smell for him and the lick lets him know more about the finding.
Dogs lick the ground when they detect something
Another circumstance that explains why your dog licks the ground is that it is in it some rest of food That you find interesting. In this sense we must avoid licking the floor of the street, because it could eat some food in poor condition or even poisonous that could cause some adverse reaction. In addition, we cannot allow puppies that have not completed their vaccination schedule to lick or smell the ground where dogs have passed whose immunological status is unknown, since serious diseases can be transmitted in this way. This is why it is recommended to avoid walks until the puppy is properly vaccinated.
At home we must be careful with aggressive cleaning products If our dog is one that licks the floor. Of course, cleaners, bleach or detergents should be kept out of reach.
My dog licks the ground without stopping, what's wrong?
Now that you know why a dog licks the floor within normality, let's see when this behavior is a problem. Thus, only in cases where the licking of the soil has become a obsessionthat is when the dog does it insistently, without stopping, will be reason for consultation with the specialist, because behind this behavior some health problem may hide.
Licking the ground insistently can also be a stereotyped behavior, which is the one that is repeated outside the appropriate context to perform it, so it loses its function. Thus, it is normal for the dog to lick the ground, but it is not that it does it continuously without being able to stop. Stereotypy can indicate boredom, frustration or stress. In these cases, in addition to improving the environment and activities of the dog, we can consult with a veterinarian specialized in canine behavior or an ethologist. For more information, see the article "Obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs", in which we treat both obsession and stereotypy, since they are disorders that do not have to be the same.
Other times the dog licks the ground in a timely manner but driven by some discomfort, for example, nausea, which usually indicates disorders in the digestive system. In these situations it is easy to see that the dog also licks its own lips or swallows repeatedly, and even licks the floor and vomits.
Pica syndrome, a disorder that causes the dog to lick the ground
If none of the above causes fits, the explanation as to why a dog licks the ground may be in pica syndrome, which would be considered a stereotyped behavior. In addition to licking, the dog would ingest substances or objects not corresponding to their usual diet, such as feces or stones. The causes of this are not clear and several hypotheses such as malabsorption, diabetes or intestinal parasites, or psychological problems such as stress, boredom, confinement, etc. are handled. In any case, they are not recommended behaviors because the dog can contract diseases and parasites, which also happens in those specimens accustomed to eating grass, a habit for which there are several hypotheses about its origin as its purgative effect or the inclusion of plant material in the diet.
What to do when your dog licks the ground?
If it is a healthy dog and does it as part of its natural behavior and routine of exploration, whenever its health is not in danger you can leave it. Now, when the dog licks the ground as a result of stress, anxiety or a health problem that must be treated, it is recommended go to a canine educator, ethologist or veterinarian to establish an adequate work plan.
Mental disorders can produce serious consequences in animals, so it is important to treat them with specialists, investigate the causes and avoid them.
If you want to read more articles similar to Why does my dog lick the ground?, we recommend that you enter our Behavior Problems section.
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From the moment the dogs are born, they become familiar with the action of licking. When they are puppies, the mother does it to stimulate their circulatory system and help them get warm. Unlike hairy adults, boys cannot regulate their body temperature and licks help them stay warm and not die of hypothermia.
As they grow older, the licked continue to be part of their day to day. They lick their patics, their belly, their owner's hands, food, etc., but, more than an involuntary activity, licking for them is a way of communicating. As we know that you are interested in knowing what your pet means, here are some of the reasons why dogs use their tongue to lick.
Among dogs, licking is one of the ways to Establish hierarchy When a dog licks another dog and ducks its body, it may be showing subordination or possibly recognizing it as the leader of the pack. From a hairy to his master, licking can mean that he knows who his owner is, that he has respect for him and that he understands what his authority is.
This is one of the most obvious and understood reasons, as his mother did with them when they were puppies, dogs They learn to clean themselves with their tongues. In addition, this is not a practice that they only do to themselves, but they can help other dogs to clean those parts that do not reach with the snout. If you notice that your pet licks a lot in a specific place, consult your veterinarian, as it could be a wound or a skin allergy.
The licks are the kisses of the dogs and they serve to show affection between them or to communicate to their masters the love they have for them. These types of samples help strengthen family ties between pets and their owners, and also They indicate thanks. You will see that every time you hug or kiss them, they will give you back the gesture in the same way.
For call the atention
Dogs discover that every time they use their tongue to lick the skin of their masters, they turn and pay attention to them. Not only that, they caress them, pamper them, and even decide to play with them to please them. The next time your dog interrupts your sleep or your activities with a lick, he might want to tell you that you dedicate time and be with him.
For your taste
That's right, dogs taste the skin of their masters, because they like their taste. On the one hand, it may be because you just ate something It smells delicious and you still have your hands smeared, and on the other, because they like the salty taste that sweat produces on your skin.
Dogs use their sense of taste, in addition to smell and sight, to explore the world around them. A new object at home, your new clothes or a change of fragrance or perfume, all are news that your dog will notice and that will lead him to explore what it is with his tongue.
Is it true that my dog's saliva is cleaner than that of another human being?
Although the answer is relative, it depends on which dog and which human being, this presumption is more a myth than a reality. Hairy licks can transmit bacteria, as their snouts and tongues are in constant contact with the environment, with feces of other animals and with everything on the ground. While these bacteria are harmless, unless they make contact with a wound, it is recommended that after exchanging licks and kisses of affection with your pet you wash your hands well and the skin to avoid any incident.
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My dog licks the ground without stopping and throws up Why?
Dogs cannot talk and tell us that their stomach hurts or that something has gone wrong and they feel like vomiting. Nor can they tell us that they have burning or that they have eaten too much and feel heavy.
But if they know what they should do to feel better, to eliminate stomach pain or burning, they should simply vomit. It is a primary instinct that they practice since they are puppies, when they feel bad the dogs eat grass or lick the floor a lot, convulsively, until the vomit arrives.
It is a completely natural way to cause vomiting and end up with the annoying gut pain, although they have not studied medicine, they are much smarter than they seem. If your dog starts to lick the floor of your house a lot, it is best to take it out a little to the street or to the garden, because it will end up vomiting.
You should never scold or prevent him from licking the ground, he does it to heal and it is something you must respect. If you scold him he will think that he is doing something wrong creating confusion and / or some trauma. Sometimes it is possible that the dog instead of licking the floor, licks the sofa, sometimes prefer the texture of the sofa to cause vomiting.
My dog licks the ground occasionally and does not vomit
There are two reasons why dogs can also lick the ground without implying that they have gut pain or want to cause vomiting. Although in these cases do not lick insistently how when they want to vomit, but do so occasionally and without obsession.
When a dog detects a smell of food on the ground or the smell of another dog, it will lick the ground to taste that delicious smell as well. If we drop some food at home, even if we pick it up and put a kitchen paper on the floor to clean it, the dog will know that there was food and lick that part of the floor.
Another reason is the absence of minerals, if our dog's diet is poor in nutrients and of poor quality, the dog will look for the nutrients it needs by alternative means. Licking the soil often provides them with minerals necessary for their organism, so it is not surprising that they do so in these situations.
Is it bad for a dog to lick the ground?
Not at all, it's something completely natural that they do instinctively. Either to cure a tummy ache or because they have smelled something interesting, we should never fight the dog for licking the ground.
However, if we must be cautious, if we have a dog at home that usually licks the floor, it is advisable to scrub the house only with water. If we use bleach or other chemical components (scrubbing), the dog will also lick its waste even if the soil is dry.
Taking a little care when scrubbing the floor to avoid toxic residues, there will be no major problem because our puppy sticks some pacifiers to the floor, absolutely nothing happens.
But if you see that your dog constantly licks and vomits on a daily basis, you should go to the veterinarian since he may have a food intolerance or a serious digestive problem that should be treated with medication. That he does it occasionally even if he vomits is not a problem, that he does it very often if it is.