There are a lot of weird things that dogs like me do, and licking air is a big one.
It’s not always an issue or a reason for you to be worried, but if it happens all of the time then it’s worth taking us to the vet to be checked over.
Why does my dog keep licking at nothing?
There are a lot of reasons why your dog keeps licking the air. Sometimes it’s because we’re hungry, but it can also be a symptom of illness, anxiety, or a compulsive mental disorder.
Compulsive disorders are when we exhibit the same behaviour over and over again. It could be due to boredom or anxiety, or as a ploy to gain attention. Look out for any stress-inducing things in our environment and ensure we have adequate mental and physical stimulation.
Some serious reasons for licking the air include seizures and liver diseases. It could also be because we have a random item in our mouth that we are trying to expel.
If some food or foreign bodies get stuck in our teeth or on the roof of our mouth, it can be really hard to remove. We are likely to lick the air in an attempt to remove them.
We might be licking the air because we are bored or feel sick. This is usually a precursor to us vomiting, so maybe try to entice us outside. It can also be symptomatic of digestive problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) or canine cognitive dysfunction.
A study conducted by Canadian scientists found that 14 out of 19 dogs with excessive licking syndrome (ELS) were doing this as a symptom of gastrointestinal discomfort.
If your dog is old it could be symptomatic of a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimers.
What should you do if you notice your dog licking the air?
If it happens infrequently, there is probably little reason for you to worry. Sometimes we do things that are not explainable, just because we feel like it.
If you see us licking the air all the time, it is probably worth taking us to the vet for a checkup.
If you are planning to take us to the vet, it is a good idea to try and catch the licking on a video. This will allow the vet to see what your pup is doing and may help them suggest a probable cause.
They will look us over and give us a full health check. This will ease your conscience and help you catch any problems early on. As the problems that ELS are symptomatic of are particularly serious, please do not wait to visit the vet.
If your dog is suffering from mental problems, the vet may prescribe them medication. Alternatively, they might recommend you and your dog visit a behaviourist so that you can support them through this.
When my human notices me licking the air, she finds my favorite toy. We start playing with it and it’s so exciting that I forget all about my need to lick!
How can I stop excessive licking?
There are a variety of things that you can do to help your dog with their licking problems.
We don’t cope well with stress and anxiety, so try to minimize these in our lives. If you see something that triggers your dog, take note and try to avoid this happening again.
You should ensure that your dog is being fed a good and well-balanced diet. If we don’t get adequate nutrition we may begin to lick the air to indicate our hunger.
Choose a high-quality food brand and ensure it meets our recommended daily allowance of vital nutrients. Try to avoid letting us eat trash, no matter how delicious we think it looks.
We are very prone to getting bored. This means that we need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. You should give us a lot of toys, including some that require mental agility to play with. As well as this, we need daily walks to expend our excess energy.
The best way to ensure the health of your dog is to take them for regular checkups. You should also follow appropriate dental care advice and brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
Why does my dog lick the couch all the time?
As I said before, we are prone to licking items lying near to us when we are bored. This is one reason why your dog may be licking the couch.
My humans eat their dinner on the couch most nights, so there’s always a remnant or two left on the cushions. They don’t know it, but I can sniff it out. It’s like a secret snack that they’ve left for me. Yummy!
Sometimes I lick the couch because it smells like my humans. We love to sniff at you, and your body odors will be all over the couch. It’s like a birthday treat!
Do dogs like it when you kiss them?
In the dog world, leaning down over us can be interpreted as a sign of aggression. In the wild, this posture would be seen as a way of expressing dominance.
If your dog is not used to it and has not yet learnt that this is your way of showing affection, they could feel threatened.
Over time, we will learn that this is not you trying to intimidate us, and we will come to associate it with love and affection.
We’re pretty hot on non-verbal communication and body language cues, so we will make it clear to you how we feel.
If we turn our heads away, tense up, yawn, or lick our lips this is a sign that we want you to take a step back. If we like it, we will probably lick your face – we are just trying to say we love you back.
As with anything we do, every dog will react differently. Read the cues they are giving you and adjust your actions accordingly.