For dogs, licking is a common way of relating to the environment, with other congeners, other animals, and also with us. For this reason, in this article by Animal Expert we will focus on explaining why a dog licks the ground , a usual behavior that many tutors do not fully understand.
This behavior can occur sporadically or become repetitive or stereotypical behavior. Thus, a dog licks the ground is within normality, but if this licking becomes an obsession, it can indicate a problem that we will have to consult with a specialist. If your dog licks the floor, keep reading!
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- What does it mean when a dog licks the ground?
- Dogs lick the ground when they detect something
- My dog licks the ground nonstop, what’s wrong?
- Pica syndrome, a disorder that causes the dog to lick the ground
- What to do when your dog licks the ground?
What does it mean when a dog licks the ground?
The simplest explanation for why a dog licks the ground would be to understand it as an activity included in the usual exploration of its environment . As is well known, dogs constantly sniff. They smell to us, to 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. Sniffing is part of the 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.
Within the olfactory exploration of the environment, when the dog encounters a particularly interesting smell, we can see that it licks the area , which is usually the ground. It is also possible that it remains motionless 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.
In summary, if you wonder what it means when a dog licks the ground the simplest answer is that it is exploring, it has detected an interesting and intense smell for it and the lick allows him to know more about the find.
Dogs lick the ground when they detect something
Another circumstance that explains why your dog licks the ground is that there is some interesting food left in it. In this sense, we must prevent it from licking the ground on the street, as it could ingest some food in poor condition or even poisonous that could cause some adverse reaction. Furthermore, we cannot allow puppies that have not completed their vaccination schedule to lick or smell the ground where dogs of which we do not know their immune status have passed, 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 of those who licks the floor. Of course, cleaners, bleaches, or detergents should be kept out of your reach.
My dog licks the ground nonstop, what’s wrong?
Now that you know why a dog is licking the floor within normality, let’s see when this behavior is a problem. Thus, only in cases in which the licking of the ground has become an obsession , that is, when the dog does it in an insistent way , without stopping, it will be reason for consultation with the specialist, because behind this behavior it can hide some health problem.
Insistent licking of the floor can also be stereotyped behavior , which is one that is repeated outside the proper context to perform, thus losing its function. Thus, it is normal for the dog to lick the ground, but it is not normal for it to do so continuously, without being able to stop . Stereotyping 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 of 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 ground and vomits.
Pica syndrome, a disorder that causes the dog to lick the ground
If none of the above causes fits, the explanation for why a dog licks the ground may be in pica syndrome , which would be considered stereotypical behavior . In addition to licking, the dog would ingest substances or objectsnot corresponding to their usual diet, such as droppings or stones. The causes of this are not clear and various hypotheses are handled such as malabsorption, diabetes or intestinal parasites, or psychological problems such as stress, boredom, confinement, etc. 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 such as its purging effect or the inclusion of plant material in the diet.
What to do when your dog licks the ground?
If he is a healthy dog and he does it as part of his natural behavior and exploration routine, as long as his health is not in danger you can leave him. Now, when the dog licks the ground as a result of stress, anxiety or a health problem that must be treated, it is advisable to 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.