Floor licking is normal behavior for most dogs. Dogs use their mouths and tongues to explore the world around them. But if your dog started to lick the floor excessively, you might wonder why does my dog lick the floor?
Licking the floor is normal dog behavior. It’s safe to expect your dog to lick the floor if you’ve dropped food while preparing lunch. However, if your dog is fixated on licking the floor, it might suffer from the excessive licking of surfaces. ELS can be caused by stress, anxiety, or GI problems.
A quick lick here, and there is nothing to worry about. But you should be concerned if your dog obsessively licks one spot on the floor.
Read on to discover why dogs lick the floor and how to curb this behavior.
Is It Normal for Dogs to Lick the Floor?
Dogs experience the world around them through their mouths and sense of taste, so a few licks here and there are expected. A few minor licks help your dog interpret situations and understand where you’ve been and where you’re going.
However, if your dog is obsessively licking the floor or carpet, it can signify a bigger underlying problem.
There’s a big difference between the occasional dog licking and excessive, non-stop licking behavior. These obsessive behaviors are cause for concern and warrant a trip to the vet.
Reasons Why Your Dog Licks the Floor
There are several reasons why dogs lick the floor, including licking for taste, looking for food, stress, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and excessive licking of surfaces.
Looking for Food
Licking the floor might be your dog’s way of looking for extra food. If you like to walk around and eat, you will leave crumbs.
Dogs have a superior smell and will quickly locate areas with leftover food, licking your floor clean. If you’ve spilled food or drink on the floor, your dog will lick that spot only for a short while until the flavor is gone.
Excessive Licking of Surfaces (ELS)
If your dog licks the floor long after the flavor is gone, it might suffer from the excessive licking of surfaces (ELS). Excessive licking of surfaces is a health problem defined as licking of objects and surfaces in excess of duration, frequency, or intensity compared to that of exploratory licking.
Unfortunately, ELS is just a symptom of an underlying health issue and is associated with several different gastrointestinal problems. The most likely causes of excessive licking of surfaces in dogs are:
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Delayed gastric emptying
- Lymphoplasmacytic infiltration on the GI tract
Excessive licking of surfaces is usually the symptom of pain and discomfort the dog feels because of a gastrointestinal abnormality.
Dogs, like people, can experience stress. But your dog will likely react differently to stress than you do.
Excessive licking is a commonly seen behavior in stressed dogs. Other signs that your dog might be stressed include whining, pacing, excessive shedding, panting, and even accidents in the home.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Like people, dogs can suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which can cause excessive licking of surfaces. Normal canine behaviors that become obsessive are regarded as OCD.
Normal licking, which at some point becomes excessive, can be classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What to Do When Your Dog Licks the Floor
If your dog starts licking the carpet or floor suddenly, you need to make sure your dog is indeed licking in excess. There’s a chance that another family member spilled something on the floor and that your dog likes the flavor.
Observe your dog for a while to see how long it keeps licking, how often it’s licking, and what surfaces it’s licking.
If your dog is licking one stop for a few minutes before moving on to other activities, there’s nothing to worry about. However, you should become concerned if your dog licks one spot anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Dogs suffering from the excessive licking of surfaces are also more likely to lick many different areas on the floor rather than focusing on a single spot.
If it seems your dog is suffering from ELS, schedule an appointment with your vet to have your dog checked out. Excessive licking of surfaces can be caused by many different medical problems. Your dog’s treatment will depend on the underlying health issue.
How to Prevent My Dog from Licking the Floor
The best way to prevent your dog from licking the floor is to discover the underlying condition causing the licking. Here’s what you need to do:
Take Your Dog to the Vet
ELS is a part of gastrointestinal disorders, so take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup. Depending on your dog’s symptoms, your vet will do blood tests, urinalysis, ultrasound, x-ray, and even MRI or CT to rule out neurological conditions.
The treatment plan varies from one dog to another and depends on the underlying condition.
Behavior Modification Training
Behavioral modification training is helpful for dogs who are licking excessively because of OCD or anxiety.
Dogs diagnosed with OCD benefit from behavioral modification training designed to interrupt licking behavior and teach them a new behavior instead.
Dogs suffering from anxiety can benefit from counterconditioning and desensitizing.
Licking is normal canine behavior, and all dogs will lick the floor from time to time. However, if your dog starts to obsessively lick the floor suddenly, it might be suffering from the excessive licking of surfaces (ELS).
ELS is usually a symptom of gastrointestinal abnormalities so take your dog to the vet. The treatment of excessive licking depends on the underlying condition, so it’s important to figure out what is causing your dog to lick the floor in the first place.