Dogs are big lickers. In fact, we tend to think that a dog is giving us kisses when he licks our face or hands. But while an occasional lick can be cute here and there, when a dog starts licking obsessively, it can be concerning. That's especially true if you notice your dog won't stop licking your floor, baseboards, or even your walls.
Your dog won't stop licking
If you find your dog licking the floor all the time, K9 of Mine says you should first make sure the flooring is clean from food or cleaning product residue to ensure your dog isn't trying to lick something specific off the ground. Clean the area well with vinegar and water and be sure to rinse thoroughly with just water. Always eat over a table to keep the floor clean from food debris.
If your dog is still licking the floor or if you have noticed your dog is licking baseboards or walls, then there's probably something more to the issue and you'll need to identify the cause of the problem before figuring out how to address it.
Medical issues in dogs
Some dogs who start licking surfaces excessively will not stop with the floor or wall, but you may also notice your dog is licking his blanket excessively, keeps licking your furniture, or won't stop licking his paw. Dr. Marty says this problem is called Excessive Licking of Surfaces, also known as ELS, and as Healthy Pets reports, a Canadian study recently found that a majority of dogs with this condition have some kind of gastrointestinal, also known as GI, condition.
When the GI condition was properly treated either with medication or an elimination diet to cut out food that irritates the pup's stomach, the study found 60% of dogs showed improvement in their ELS behaviors and more than half of those stopped excessive licking completely.
According to Vet Info, there may be other medical issues that cause excessive licking, which include Cushing's Disease, pancreatitis, or liver failure. This is why your first step in trying to stop your dog from licking the floor is to take your dog to the vet.
Neurological disorders in dogs
If your dog obsessively licks at one particular area of the floor and you're sure it has been cleaned of anything that might taste appealing to her, she might be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD. While many people mistakenly believe that OCD is a behavioral disorder and that dogs demonstrating this behavior just need to be more mentally stimulated, it is actually a neurological disorder and will likely require medication to treat, which is yet another reason to take your pup to the vet when she is obsessively licking the floor.
Behavioral problems in dogs
That's not to say that licking can't be a sign of a behavioral issues. Your dog could also be suffering from boredom or anxiety. If your dog is not being exercised enough or getting enough mental stimulation, then he may just be bored. Give him more exercise and mentally stimulating, puzzle-type toys and he will likely stop. You could also try taking him to doggy daycare if you're not going to be home.
If your dog suffers from anxiety, you'll need to first figure out what is causing him stress, then look up a solution for helping dogs in a similar situation. If you can't pinpoint the cause of the anxiety, your vet may be able to help identify it and offer suggestions on how to treat it.
Pica is similar
If your dog is not only licking the floor, but also eating things, such as carpet fibers, splinters from the hardwood floor, or pieces from the baseboard, she may be suffering from pica. PetMD says this is a condition where dogs crave and eat non-food items. Just like licking issues, pica can be caused by a number of medical issues or by emotional problem such as stress or separation anxiety. Your vet can help diagnose the cause of pica in your dog and come up with a course of treatment.