It's incredibly odd behavior, but it's also kind of cute: Your dog licks your belly button. You're wondering what the reason is for this and if it's healthy for him to do it. By finding out more about dogs and belly buttons, you can determine if it's a problem, or if this is just normal dog behavior.
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Here's the scene: You're sitting on the couch, enjoying your favorite show, when suddenly, your dog is right there. You think he wants to cuddle, but then, your dog is sniffing at your shirt. He may even paw at it until he can reveal your belly button, which he begins licking as if it's a delicious ice cream sundae.
You've probably noticed that your dog likes to lick other parts of your body, like your legs and arms after you've just worked out. That's because dogs enjoy the taste of salts and oils that your body produces. They have an excellent sense of smell and can smell when those salts and oils also start to collect in your belly button. Even if you think your belly button smells bad, to your dog, it smells great.
Additionally, your dog can detect hormonal changes in your body through smell. He could be licking your belly button say, if you were pregnant. If you're going through hormonal changes, he may also want to cuddle more with you or be more protective.
If there is something wrong with your belly button – for instance, you have eczema – your dog may also detect that and want to help. Studies show that dogs know how to detect disease through smell, so something bigger could be going on if he's suddenly obsessed with licking your belly button.
Your dog is being affectionate
If your dog is licking you on your belly button – or anywhere else for that matter – he could be trying to show you affection. Some dogs in the wild will lick their pack members when they come back home, so you may find that when your dog is happy to see you again, he starts licking you too.
Your dog is anxious
Another possibility for your dog licking your belly button is that he's anxious. Licking releases endorphins and makes dogs feel better. If your dog has separation anxiety and he knows you're about to leave or he is overwhelmed by the current environment, he may head for your belly button or lick other parts of your body.
To tell if your dog is anxious, look at his body language. His ears and tail may be tucked or he could be panting, licking his lips, avoiding eye contact with you, or have whale eyes.
Figuring out if there’s a bigger issue at play
If your dog is anxious and you believe that's why he's licking your belly button, you should first look for signs that he's stressed. Then, try to determine what's triggering him. Does he get anxious when there are little kids in the house, or you have new people over? Is he scared when there are thunderstorms? Giving him a quiet space to go to in another room, away from the noise, could help him. Also, setting up a comfortable crate for your pup to retreat to and putting his favorite toys in there might make him feel better.
You should also thoroughly inspect your belly button to make sure you don't have any health issues going on. Keep it clean and look for signs of infection such as pain, redness, or discharge. Tell your doctor about any problems you find and don't let your dog near your belly button in the meantime, since he could be making it worse.
Your dog likely just licks your belly button because he has a strong sense of smell and he enjoys the taste. If you think there is something more going on, make sure you speak to your dog's vet right away to rule out any health issues.