Licking can also manifest as a symptom of anxiety, stress or boredom. Compulsive grooming behavior is commonly witnessed in dogs that are stressed or under-stimulated in their environment. … If you pay attention to your dog when he licks his bed, you may be providing the attention your pet craves.
Common Causes of Dog Licking
First, it’s important to note right away that licking beds does not have to indicate a serious medical condition in your dog. It can be, but often it’s just a response to common behavioral challenges like stress, anxiety, or even boredom.
Here are some not-unhealthy reasons a dog might be licking your bed:
- Boredom. Dogs get bored, too, and a way to combat this is to give them more opportunities to exercise, or socialize with other pooches such as at a dog park. These two behavioral changes, exercise and socialising, are the first two things you should try to stop excessive licking of your bed.
- Stress. Did you bring a baby into the household, or even a puppy? Does a stranger now visit often? Your dog could be stressed about the change and the licking is a call for attention. See above for an easy fix: try to give it more attention for a spell and see if it helps.
- Anxiety. Dogs can get anxious about many things, like diminishing attention (see above), or when it might get fed. The same thing applies as with stress: the licking is a way to soothe itself in times of worry. If your pooch excessively licks your bed while you’re not there, it could even be separation anxiety.
- Over-rewarding. You might not know it, but a reward during or after the bed licking could be exacerbating the problem. Think about whether you petted or gave your dog a treat or toy associated with the bed licking.
- Feels good. Believe it or not, repeated licking releases chemicals (endorphins) that make your dog feel better. Ever self-soothe by eating something yummy? Humans may not lick everything, but indeed we do sometimes take unusual actions to stop feeling crummy. Dogs can, too.
- Just like it. Maybe your dog just likes the taste of your bed sheets or pillowcase, or maybe just your smell around it. We can’t just ask the dog why, but it’s not out of the question that your pooch just likes to lick a certain spot. Also, remember that your sweat and dead skin cells can be salty — a taste or sensation that dogs tend to like.
Note that most animals have natural urges when their bodies are short on salt. Cows and horses in the wild are known to find plants for food with high saline content for this reason. Too much salt for us is unhealthy, but we all need some for certain bodily systems such as sweating. Same with dogs; when their bodies are short on salt content, they could lick items that taste salty.
However, what to watch for is when the licking of specific items becomes a real ongoing habit, threatening the health of the animal or condition of the item licked. Aside from the annoyance of an unexpected wet spot in your bed, the dog’s licking could be an indicator of a medical condition that needs attention.
Reasons Why Dogs Lick Bed
Despite that, your dog may continue to lick almost everything–which means that you might have misunderstood its needs or wants.
Moreover, it keeps on licking areas where they regularly stay, such as its bed.
If you’ve observed your dog excessively licking its bed, you should learn these five potential causes behind this kind of behavior.
Identifying the reasons why your dogs lick their bed can help you improve their health.
1. Luxurious sense
Dogs usually feel so cozy and warm in a particular area that they claim it as their territory through licking their bed.
So if you noticed your pup licking its bed before nap time and comfortably settling on it, it’s a sign that it’s establishing itself, cleaning, and spreading its scent on that area.
You don’t have to worry since they’re just doing it to find comfort for themselves while they travel to their dreamland.
Another reason your dog licks its bed is its appetitive behavior, where they clean up areas with traces of crumbs.
Cleaning the areas where your dog typically stays, especially on its bed, will lessen its bed licking.
3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Before a dog’s behavior escalates to an obsessive-compulsive one, some factors influence it, which leads to the development of such a disorder.
When your dog feels disheartened, isolated, stressed and anxious, or experiencing neurological and other health problems, they are most likely to develop OCD.
Dogs also have their perturbations to deal with, and obsessively licking their bed is one way to deal with it.
4. Seeking attention
Your dog might be licking its bed nonstop simply because it wants to seek attention from you.
It may have realized that licking its bed brings your attention to it.
Why so? It’s because every time it does it, you stop whatever you were doing and sometimes nag because of its behavior.
If you have observed that this behavior has been repetitive for a certain period, give your dog more time to make it feel safe and loved because it may be showing signs that it needs attention from its owner.
5. Declining years
One factor to take into consideration why dogs lick their beds is their age.
Some symptoms of dogs licking their beds are appetite loss, confusion, defiance, slower reflexes, disrupted sleep-wake cycles, and irritable behavior.
Dogs’ brains are also affected as they age older, which may cause them to develop canine cognitive dysfunction.
Dogs with this kind of condition show recurring habits such as licking their bed, confusion, disrupted sleep-wake cycles, and ability to understand.
To cure this condition that causes dogs to lick their bed, drug therapy and modification of their environment and behavior can help ease this problem.
Most importantly, do not hesitate to bring your pup to a vet to guarantee the real cause of their bed licking and for them to be provided with the best treatment.
When dogs lick bed sheets, pillow cases, mattresses, or the bed frame itself, it doesn’t have to mean that a significant problem with the pooch exists. Much of the time simple routine modifications like getting the dog more exercise, giving it toys or playing with it consistently, or providing more time around other dogs, could cease the bed licking.
Still, there do exist conditions, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, that may warrant attention from a veterinarian. Ultimately, it very well could come down to reducing or eliminating the dog’s access to your bed.