Licking is a common behavior in dogs, and it serves several purposes. Here are some benefits of why dogs need to lick:
Grooming: Dogs use licking as a way to groom themselves. They lick their fur to keep it clean, remove dirt, debris, and parasites, and distribute natural oils that help maintain a healthy coat. Licking also promotes better blood circulation to the skin.
Bonding and Social Interaction: Licking is a form of social interaction and bonding between dogs and their human companions or other dogs. It is often a sign of affection and can be seen as a display of trust and submission. Licking can help strengthen the emotional connection between dogs and their owners.
Healing and Soothing: Dogs instinctively lick wounds or injured areas on their bodies. The saliva contains enzymes and antibacterial properties that can help clean the wound and promote healing. Licking also releases endorphins, which can have a soothing effect on dogs and provide them with comfort.
Temperature Regulation: Dogs sweat primarily through their paw pads, but they can also cool themselves down by panting and licking. When they lick their fur, the moisture on their tongue evaporates, creating a cooling effect on their body. This behavior is especially common in hot weather or after physical exertion.
Sensory Exploration: Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell, and licking allows them to gather additional sensory information. They use their tongues to taste and explore objects, people, or other animals, helping them gather information about their surroundings and the individuals they encounter.
Stress Relief: Licking can be a self-soothing behavior for dogs in times of stress or anxiety. It releases endorphins, which have a calming effect and can help alleviate stress. Some dogs may excessively lick themselves as a coping mechanism, and in such cases, it’s important to address the underlying cause of the anxiety.
While licking is a normal behavior, it’s essential to monitor your dog’s licking habits. Excessive licking, particularly in specific areas, can indicate underlying issues such as allergies, skin irritations, or anxiety. If you notice excessive or abnormal licking, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical concerns.