Dear Labby: Why is my Dog Licking?

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Dear Labby_oldDear Labby,
My 10-year old Cocker Spaniel has started licking their elbow joint all the time. I checked to see if there was a cut or a tick or something irritating him, but I don’t see anything. What’s up with this licking behavior?
Worried Mom

Dear Mom,

Good question – lots of dogs lick themselves and for a variety of reasons. Where they are licking and the intensity of the activity may give you some indication of what’s going on with them.

Possible Causes:

  • Licking the pads of their feet. This may be in indication of an allergy – especially if the licking is done when they come in from outside.
  • Licking their private parts. When Jack developed some incontinence he started licking, sometimes feverishly, to clean himself. Once we got him on some incontinence medication it stopped. If they are licking their anus, it might be an indication of anal gland irritation or blockage.
  • Licking their joints – elbows, hips, shoulder. This is likely an indication of pain, maybe from arthritis or an injury to the joint.

    The bottomline is, if the itching seems obsessive or out of the ordinary, get your vet to check it out.

    Additional Readings:

    Dogs and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing
    Why Is My Dog Licking Its Paws So Much ?

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  1. the elbows are a sensitive part… maybe it is that kind of callus what happens often to senior pets?
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  2. Then there is the old hot spot which causes licking. Katie has always gotten one or two of those a year the past years. If you don’t nip that in the bud, it becomes a mess.
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    • YEah, Jack can get started with one of those, luckily we’re able to get him to stop before it gets to bad.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby: Why is my Dog Licking?My Profile

  3. TY for this post. My dog is a “lickie” boy, and he not only licks himself, but often licks the bedding to where I have to say, “No lickie – lickie!” I will be more vigilant to be aware now of where he is licking to make sure there is no further issue. That said, I do remember hearing from an aquaintance that his dog was licking a forearm that he later discovered was cancerous.

  4. My Golden was an obsessive licker. He loved to lick us, himself, the cat…LOL! We are adding some local honey to the boys food in hopes of relieving some of the outdoor allergies. *paws crossed
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  5. Cocoa is pretty good about licking. She will occasionally lick her paws but it isn’t a problem.
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  6. Harley is a paw licker because of the allergens from outside. When he becomes obsessive with it, I wipe them down really well and it seems to do the trick.

  7. Sam only seems to lick if there’s some sort of irritation but when he does, boy he can go crazy with it. Luckily he is easily distracted-I can just clear my throat and he’ll stop. I’ll check the spot to see if there’s something there and if not, monitor it extensively because I’d hate for him to develop a neurosis about licking. Gah!

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