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Licking is a common way for dogs to interact with the environment, with other conspecifics, other animals and, also, with us. Therefore, in this AnimalWised article we will focus on explaining why does a dog lick the ground, a common behavior that many tutors do not quite understand.
This behavior can occur sporadically or turn into repetitive or stereotyped behavior. Thus, a dog licking the ground is normal, but if this licking becomes an obsession, you can tell us a problem that we will have to consult with a specialist. If your dog licks the floor, ¡keep reading!You may also be interested in: My dog licks me a lot - Why and what to do? Index
- 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 with him?
- 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 a activity included in regular exploration of your environment. As is well known, dogs constantly sniff. They smell us, our belongings and, when we accompany them for a walk, it is easy for us to have to stop on multiple occasions while they sniff, with great attention, herbs, corners, tires or other dogs. Sniff is part of normal behavior of a healthy dog, in fact, in those collected after mistreatment situations, it is easy to verify that this behavior is inhibited by fear.
Inside of olfactory exploration environment, when the dog is faced with a smell that is especially interesting, we can observe that lick the area, which is usually the ground. It is also possible that he remains motionless while smelling it and begins to make movements with his 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 he is exploring, he has detected an interesting and intense smell for him 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 it is there some rest of food that is interesting to you. In this sense, we must avoid licking the ground on the street, as it could ingest some food in poor condition or even poisonous that could cause an adverse reaction. In addition, we cannot allow puppies that have not completed their vaccination schedule to lick or smell the ground where dogs whose immune status we do not know 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 ground. Of course, cleaners, bleaches or detergents should be kept out of their reach..
My dog licks the ground nonstop, what's wrong with him?
Now that you know why a dog licks the floor normally, let's see when this behavior is a problem. Thus, only in cases where the licking of the ground has become a obsession, that is, when the dog does it in an insistent way, without stopping, it will be a reason to consult with the specialist, because behind this behavior a health problem may hide.
Licking the ground insistently can also be a stereotypical behavior, which is the one that is repeated outside the appropriate context to do it, so it loses 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. Stereotypy can indicate boredom, frustration, or stress. In these cases, in addition to improving the environment and the dog's activities, 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 digestive system disorders. In these situations it is easy to see that the dog also licks his own lips or swallows saliva 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 fit, the explanation for why a dog licks the ground may be in pica syndrome, which would be considered a stereotypical behavior. In addition to licking, the dog would ingest substances or objects not corresponding to their usual diet, such as excrement 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 dogs accustomed to eating grass, a habit for which there are several hypotheses about its origin such 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, as long as 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 dog educator, ethologist or veterinarian to establish a suitable 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.