Dog lickingResearch indicates dogs who lick surfaces excessively could have a gastrointestinal disorder, and treatment of the underlying problem is likely to resolve the behavior, writes veterinarian Lee Pickett. The many functions of purring in cats are also addressed in Dr. Pickett’s column. (Reading, Pa.) (7/1)

Q.  Henry, my 3-year-old shep-collie mix, has been licking the couch, carpet and other surfaces lately. What’s behind his behavior change?

A. Ask your veterinarian to investigate Henry’s gastrointestinal tract. Recently published research suggests that stomach and intestinal problems can trigger excessive licking of surfaces (ELS).

Researchers evaluated 19 dogs exhibiting ELS and 10 healthy dogs through blood work, neurologic examinations, oral exams under anesthesia, abdominal ultrasounds, endoscopies and biopsies of stomach and intestines.

Fourteen of the 19 ELS dogs (74 percent) were diagnosed with specific gastrointestinal diseases, whereas only three of the 10 apparently healthy dogs (30 percent) were similarly affected.

After treatment of the gastrointestinal diseases, ELS stopped completely in nine of the dogs and was significantly reduced in one additional dog.

If your veterinarian doesn’t find a gastrointestinal disorder, Henry may be experiencing anxiety. Your vet can help address that too.

4 responses to “Dog’s excessive licking may indicate GI trouble”

  1. Snoopy says:

    My dog has been obsessed with licking everything for over a year. All this time he has been wearing a cone day and night. The vets have treated him for skin conditions, and allergies, I have tried many different types of shampoos, lotions, antihistamines, foods, steroids, antibiotics….I am desperate. The doctors say his labs are normal, therefore they all end up prescribing Atopica. I don’t want to compromise his immune systems. Is there anything else the vets can try to determine the problem? jThank you.

  2. […] other instances, dogs who lick frequently for no apparent reason may be suffering a gastrointestinal problem. They may lick their bowl frantically, even though it’s empty, or lick carpet or upholstery after […]

  3. Dan Vallo says:

    We are watching our grand daughters female rescue dog. She is a good dog but when you try and pet her she constantly licks your hand.why does she do this??

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