Dogs lick each others’ ears as a way to show affection, submission or because they just like the taste. Dogs greet and interact with each other in all kinds of physical ways, and while it may seem like a sweet gesture, excessive ear-licking can lead to health issues or obsessive compulsive disorders. If licking gets out of hand, you may need to step in.
Dogs who share a household often participate in mutual grooming. It’s a way to bond, show affection and take care of each other. Dogs lick each others’ ears to clean them. To some dogs, ear wax and debris has an appealing taste and smell, making the chore all the more pleasurable. In some homes, cats and dogs groom each other as well.
A dog with obsessive-compulsive disorder takes a behavior or habit to excess. Ear-licking can be one such habit. This can be a sign of anxiety that needs to be evaluated by a vet or a canine behavior specialist. Prescription anti-anxiety medications may help curb the behavior.
Licking and grooming can be a sign of submissive behavior. You may notice when one dog licks another dog’s ears, his own ears are laid back. He also may lie flat or wiggle, which are all signs of submission. Your dog may exhibit similar traits with you, if he sees you as a pack leader.
Dogs may lick and groom themselves and each other out of boredom. Keep your dogs physically active, going for regular walks, engaging in play and giving them different toys to play with. Interactive toys that dispense kibble can entertain your dog for hours. If you want to stop the ear-licking, distract your pups when they start with a favorite activity.
Dangers of Excessive Licking
When dogs lick each other’s ears too much, the ears become damp and moist, which can lead to bacteria buildup and infection. If you use topical flea or ear mite medicine in your pup’s ears, your dog can get sick from ingesting the medicine and negate the benefits of the medication he licked out of his mate's ears. If you can’t discourage dogs to stop on their own, you may need to employ the use of Elizabethan collars to deter the activity.