This Is Why Your Pet Is Licking Everything

Experts weigh in on the difference between habitual behavior and an underlying medical condition.

Pet owners—of dogs and cats, alike—all have one common connection: the love for their pets. It's any owner's priority in life is to keep their furry companion safe and healthy year after year. Pet owners often know all about their animal's quirks, whether that be a dog circling in his bed five times before falling asleep or that a cat's favorite napping spot is on top of the dryer. But when are pet quirks cute and when are some worrisome?

dog on couch tongue out
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When it comes to pet licking, it's important to know that this is a natural occurrence; while this behavior should be expected to some degree, what does it mean if your pet is excessively licking everything? Jessica Jane MacMurchy, adoption coordinator at Animal Charity of Ohio, says that excessive licking is a tell-tell sign of a medical condition and should be treated by a veterinarian.

Aside from your pet licking a wound, extreme licking can be triggered by stress. MacMurchy says, "If your pet is licking their paws or their skin after a large move, change in schedule, arrival after adoption or after being introduced to a new family member or animal, this could be a sign of anxiety or stress."

To reduce your pet's stress as well as their licking, MacMurchy recommends introducing your pet to a puzzle or a high value toy to provide safe mental stimulation. "Offering a solution to the mind of animal who might be in an anxious loop will really help to stimulate and tire out the mind. Often, activities with mental stimulation will tire out an anxious mind much more than a long walk or physical exercise. Always monitor your pet while they are enjoying their puzzle game or activity," she shares.

Ryeon Kim, pet expert and founder of Little Beasts, adds that excessive licking can be due to an undiagnosed neurological issue. "If the licking is unnatural or out of the ordinary (licking inanimate objects or incessant, there could be some neurological or cognitive disorder at hand). Always consult with your veterinarian if you feel there is something off." Both pet experts suggest monitoring your pet's behavior as well as consult with your vet to rule out any medical reasoning.

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