In today’s article, we are going to talk about why dogs lick their toys and stuffed animals. It is evident to every pet parent that dogs are obsessed with their things. Additionally, you may have observed your pooch licking his toy. Therefore, here are some reasons why this happens.
Why do dogs lick their toys and stuffed animals?
Licking Relieves Boredom
One of the most common reasons for a dog to lick its stuff is out of boredom. He’s just bored and looking for something to do. If you have recently bought a pet and are not paying attention to him, he may lick his toys and other stuffed animals to fight boredom.
To mitigate this
- Try to spend a little more time with your pup to cure his boredom.
- While he is licking his toys try using them to play with him.
- Take the toy and throw it away. See if your pup gets active and stops licking in the meantime.
- This will also make him tired. This ultimately reduces any negative emotions inside him.
Boredom is more common in younger ones that have a lot of energy. They find it difficult to spend all the time inside the house. If you are away from home, leave toys that will keep him busy. Additionally, this will also reduce excessive licking behaviour.
Licking can be a sign of Obsessive-compulsive disorder
OCD can be a reason for your dog to lick its toys and stuffed animals. Canines can also have this problem just like humans. Your pooch may be feeling the ultimate urge to lick the toys.
If he does this and starts licking other objects as well it is better to take him to the vet.
Some most common signs of the obsessive-compulsive disorder include-
- Chasing tail excessively
- Following the reflection of sunlight on the ground
- Walking in a circle
- Excessive vocalizing
Thirst/Hunger may Trigger Canine Licking
Hunger and thrust are potential reasons your dog licks its toys and stuffed animals. The toys they lick are the ones that you usually fill with their treats. Therefore, this can be a good sign of telling you that your dog is hungry.
Licking any object helps to stimulate the salivary glands. Furthermore, it helps to get rid of dry mouth. Therefore in case your dog is thirsty, he may lick his toys excessively.
If you feel your dog is not going to the water bowl normally, then you can keep his licking toys there. Moreover, you can also invest in pet water fountains to entice him to drink the water.
Licking sometimes Relieves stress
It is a scientific fact that licking helps to relieve stress in dogs. You may have witnessed your canine licking his toys more often when you leave him alone. He may be stressed about it and hence licking his belongings.
When dogs are stressed or anxious they don’t know what to do. Hence they go to the objects and start licking them. This behaviour can also become ritualistic if your canine feels good after it.
Therefore, pay more attention to your pet and help him fight any anxiety or stress issues.
Nausea in dogs causes excessively licking
According to PetMD, one of the potential signs of nausea in dogs is excessively licking the object around. A nauseous stomach can make your canine’s mouth taste bad. Therefore, he may try to lick everything to get relief from it.
This is the reason why your dog licks his toys and stuffed animals.
Dogs have similar nausea as humans. And this is commonly diet-related. You can take it in a way that your dog might be eating too quickly or too much.
Additionally, your dog may also have eaten something that is hard to digest. Or he may have licked something that is unpleasant. For instance, detergent powder.
Things that cause nausea in dogs include:
- Motion sickness
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Parasites in the intestine
- Viral infections
Signs of nausea in dogs include:
- Dry heaving
- Excessive chewing
- Excessive licking
- Lack of appetite
Licking Helps Dogs In Understanding Their Environment
Pups explore the whole world with mouths and tongues first. Moreover, this behaviour sometimes continues into adulthood. Licking and chewing are the best ways for canines to understand their environment. Also, it is very common in the early days of pup teething.
If you have a pup, the best way to stop his licking is to provide teething toys. These toys are specially designed for licking. In fact, these toys provide a surface for your dog’s tongue.
Licking: A symptom of Dog Dementia
Licking is one of the symptoms of dementia. It is the canine version of Alzheimer’s in the human world. Moreover, it affects the canine’s memory and learning abilities. Therefore, the dog’s behaviour becomes odd.
Some research says that 62% of canines between 11 and 16 show signs of dementia. Canines with this issue are often confused with their surrounding environment.
You may find your pooch roaming around like he is lost. He may also bark for no reason.
Other symptoms of Dementia include:
- No longer responding to their name
- Extreme irritability
- The decreased will to play
Excessive Licking may be a Disease: PICA
Pica is a disease where the dog eats non-edible things. If your canine has pica, he may lick everything around him. Moreover, he may eat these things.
Pica is dangerous and results in dental issues. Additionally, it may result in poisoning and gastrointestinal blockage. In some cases, this may lead to surgery.
According to the Chief Medical Officer at Saint Francis Veterinary Centre, Dr Karyn Collier, Pica can be psychological or behavioural.
Some of the common causes of Pica include-
- Less socializing
- Less physical and mental stimulation
- Maldigestion and malabsorption
- Vitamin deficiency
- Liver problem
Mouth or Oral problems
Your canine may have some problem in his mouth that may bother him. Therefore, he may lick his toys and stuffed animals to relieve the pain. Moreover, this behaviour is common in canines with oral problems. It usually happens when your canine eats something sharp.
Additionally, your canine may suffer from Gingivitis caused by harmful bacteria. These canines have bleeding gums.
Moreover, it is vital to pay attention to your canine’s dental health. To mitigate this, you need to brush your canine’s teeth daily.
Just to explore
It is a fact that puppies lick more than adult dogs. They are very active and curious. Therefore, they use their mouths to explore the world. And this is the reason why you see them licking their toys and stuffed animals.
Moreover, they not only lick but also chew the toys. This happens more when they are teething. Pups get their baby teeth by the age of 2 to 3 weeks. After 4 months, adult teeth start growing.
The process is not painful, but it is very uncomfortable for the canine. Hence, they chew the toys to target distractions.
Licking is the best way for dogs to relax. Actually, licking increases endorphins making them calm. Therefore, this is one of the reasons for your dog to lick their toys and stuffed animals.
If they are comfortable doing that, then they will not behave destructively.
Form of communication
In some cases, dogs lick their toys to tell you something. Your canine may lick its food bowl and other stuffed toys to show love and affection. He may also do it when he is anxious or nervous.
Canines lick their toys and stuffed animals as a form of communication in the same species. When 2 canines meet, they may try to engage in licking. This is completely normal.
Sometimes canines lick their toys to groom them. This is major to make them part of the pack. Most canine owners do not mind this act. They just consider it innocent behaviour.
However, if you find your canine licking excessively, it is better to find out the root cause. The simplest way is to replace the toy. This will let you know if your canine was just obsessed with that particular toy or if there are more possibilities. You can also consult a vet if needed.
Give your fido multiple toys to keep him occupied so that he will forget to lick one. Moreover, you can also distract him by calling out his name while he is licking. Once he looks at you, give him his favourite treat. This is also called positive reinforcement.
Natural oils taste good
As the canine licks his toys, the saliva contains enzymes that help in digestion. While you cannot say that this affects the same when on dogs, dogs love tasting it. Additionally, licking releases endorphins. It provides satisfaction and pleasure to your canine.
How to stop your dog from licking toys and stuffed animals?
The first thing is to understand the cause behind this behaviour. If it is a new habit, then try to recall the situation and environment. The more details you get, the easier it will be to understand the cause. Most common reasons include you getting a new job, a new pet, moving to a new place, etc.
Here are a few steps to ensure the reason is not a negative one:
Make sure your dog is fed properly and has access to water all the time
As we talked about hunger and thirst, the best way is to ensure the availability of both. Once you do this, you can remove this probable cause from the doubt list.
Trying to reduce anxiety
If you feel that your pet is having separation anxiety, start working on it. Try to limit this reason. Make sure to provide proper food, water, care, and exercise.
Also, buy toys that can help with dealing with anxiety. For instance, you can buy moving toys.
Ensure that your pooch has good mental stimulation with you. It is an important part of your canine’s health. You must play with your canine, take him on walks, and stimulate him in different ways.
Get professional help
If you cannot find out the real cause of licking, then take your dog to the vet. The vet will handle this situation professionally. He can suggest more possible ways to tackle the situation.
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In conclusion, I would say that licking toys is normal in most cases. Dogs do this for various reasons. However, only some of them are serious. Others can be easily tackled with positive reinforcement. For the rest, you will need professional help.
When you start noticing this behaviour, write down everything you find odd. This will help the vet to understand the cause easily.
I hope you liked the article. I will be back with more interesting and informative pieces of writing. Till then, stay connected. Thank you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do dogs lick their toys after playing?
Canines have positive associations with licking. Also, it is a pleasant activity. Therefore, many canines find it very relaxing. Hence, they lick their toys to soothe themselves.
Do dogs think stuffed animals are real?
No, dogs know stuffed toys are not real. Dogs know what is real and what is not. They often consider the toys and stuffed animals as their own property. Therefore, they play, bite, lick, and throw them. It also helps them to relieve stress.
Why do dogs lick you?
Canines often lick you as a greeting, to show affection, to get attention, etc. Also, it is more evident when you have food with you, have applied some sweet-smelling lotion, have sweat on your body, etc.