Veterinary Highlights: Excessive Licking Of Surfaces

Where there's smoke, there's fire. I always believed that and my experiences didn't prove me otherwise. When I'm facing a problem or a strange behavior, I am extremely reluctant to write it off as a behavioral issue. I always want to look for a physical cause.

When a behavioral or an emotional issue is diagnosed, how is it treated? With chemicals.

When I was reading Four Paws, Five Directions, some of the concepts really resonated with me. They were making connection between physical and emotional/behavioral. My dog nutrition course is also making similar connections.

That's why I was quite excited to see that it has been discovered that excessive licking of surfaces (ELS) by dogs may not be a behavioral problem after all.

Researchers now believe that ELS (excessive licking of just about anything, such as floors, carpeting, furniture ...) could simply be a clue that something else is up. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior discovered that 14 our of 19 dogs presenting with ELS included in the study were in fact suffering from GI disorders, ranging from giardiasis, chronic pancreatitis and other disorders.

How many more connection are there that we are missing?

We often complain that our dogs can't talk. Maybe it's just that we don't know how to listen.

This only confirms my belief. If you have a problem, look for a physical reason. If you don't find one, keep looking.

Source article:
Excessive licking of surfaces by dogs may not be a behavioral problem, but a clue to something more

Further reading:
Gastrointestinal disorders in dogs with excessive licking of surfaces

Related articles:
Where There Is Smoke, There Is Fire: A Symptom Is Your Friend, Treat It With Respect!
The House Is On Fire! Bridget's Pancreatitis


  1. Thanks for highlighting this - Bella has been licking more things lately, and I was wondering if something was up. It actually would seem to dovetail with some recent GI problems she has been having. I'm off to check out the other posts you linked to.

  2. I didn't think that this will be a problem for a dog. I thought it is normal. This post helps me to be more aware on the behavior of a dog. Thanks!

    Vets Minster

  3. I know my dog has allergies. But she has always licked everything. Not just the couch ETC. People and other dogs lol. Not herself so much. Years ago I did a series of allergy tests on her which took weeks, where her body became immune. I take her to the Vet regularly and I have a Cat. She seems to do ok with the cat. She also was tested for crystal when she was a puppy and was always on prescription food. She was on it so many years and never really ever had any problems , so I started giving her some real food. I felt she needed more nourishment. She also has dry eye. She smells. I give her a bath and with in a day or so she stinks again. I wonder if it is the eye drops or the vitamins I am putting in her food. It is not her teeth or anal glans. Should I be concern with the smell? She seems to be active and eats well. She is 7 years old.

    1. Yes, do investigate the cause of the smell and dry eye, both. Test thyroid and adrenal glands to start with.


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