Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets: Understanding This Odd Behavior

Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets: Understanding This Odd Behavior


Have you ever wondered why does my dog lick the blanket? Many pet owners have asked themselves this same question. Licking is a natural behavior for dogs, but why do they choose to lick a blanket? In this blog post, we will explore the various reasons why dogs lick blankets and how to understand and address this behavior.

The Reasons Dogs Lick

Dogs are known to engage in many peculiar behaviors that often leave us scratching our heads. One of the most common and unusual habits that dogs possess is licking, and this behavior is usually amplified when it comes to blankets. As a pet owner, you might find yourself wondering why your dog can't resist licking the blanket all day long. Well, there are several reasons why dogs lick, and in this post, we'll delve into some of them.

Firstly, it's essential to understand that licking is a natural instinct that dogs have inherited from their wild ancestors. Puppies lick their mother's face and body to signal that they are hungry or to ask for her attention. Adult dogs also lick their pack mates as a sign of submission, affection, or respect. Furthermore, dogs use their sense of taste and smell to learn about their environment, so licking is a way for them to gather information about objects or surfaces.

However, licking can also serve other purposes that aren't as innocent or straightforward. For instance, some dogs will lick when they feel stressed or anxious, as it can have a calming effect on their nervous system. Other dogs will lick to scratch an itch or to alleviate pain caused by dental or oral issues. In some cases, excessive licking may be a sign of an underlying medical problem, such as allergies or skin infections.

Overall, there are several reasons why dogs lick, and as a pet owner, it's essential to observe your dog's behavior carefully. If you notice excessive licking or a change in your dog's behavior, it's always a good idea to seek advice from your veterinarian. In the next section, we'll explore why blankets are so attractive to dogs and why they can't resist licking them.

What Makes Blankets So Attractive?

Dogs can be quirky creatures with odd behaviors, and licking blankets is certainly one of them. So, what makes blankets so attractive to our furry friends?

Firstly, blankets often have an appealing texture that can be satisfying to lick or suckle on. The soft and fuzzy fabric can feel comforting to your pup and provide a sense of security. In fact, many dogs use blankets as a way to self-soothe, especially when they feel anxious or stressed.

Additionally, blankets can have familiar scents that your dog associates with comfort and safety. If you use the same blanket to cover your dog's bed or to cuddle with them, they may become attached to the smell and enjoy licking it as a way to feel close to you.

Finally, some dogs simply enjoy the taste and sensation of licking fabrics, including blankets. This could be due to their natural curiosity or a desire to explore their environment using their mouths.

Overall, there are many reasons why dogs may be attracted to blankets. However, it's important to keep in mind that excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety or medical issues. If you notice your dog obsessively licking blankets or other objects, it's best to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health concerns.

Comfort and Calming

Dogs have been known to exhibit certain behaviors that seem strange to their owners. One of the most common ones is licking. When it comes to blankets, some dogs have an overwhelming urge to lick them, and this may puzzle many owners. However, this behavior is entirely normal and can be attributed to the need for comfort and calming.

Dogs find comfort in many things, including the soft and fuzzy texture of blankets. The licking action is an extension of this desire for comfort, and it can also have a calming effect on your dog. Licking releases endorphins in the brain, which can reduce stress and make your dog feel more relaxed. In some ways, it’s similar to the soothing feeling that humans get from hugging or cuddling a soft and cozy blanket.

This behavior can also be seen in puppies who, in their earliest days, lick their mothers for milk and warmth. Dogs may also lick themselves to clean, but with blankets, it’s mostly about comfort. In fact, you might notice your dog starting to lick the blanket more frequently when they’re feeling anxious or afraid.

So, if your dog is licking the blanket, it’s nothing to worry about. In most cases, it’s a harmless way for your dog to seek comfort and calmness. However, if you notice excessive licking behavior, you may want to consider some of the underlying reasons for the behavior. In some cases, there could be medical concerns or a need for further training to help your dog cope with their anxiety.

In the next section, we will explore some of the instincts and associations that might cause your dog to develop an affinity for blankets and why they can become obsessive about licking them.

Instincts and Associations

While licking may seem like a strange behavior to humans, it's important to remember that dogs rely on their instincts to communicate and understand the world around them. In the wild, dogs may lick each other as a way to show submission or affection. This behavior can also be linked to a dog's sense of smell. Licking allows them to better understand the scents of their environment and other animals. 

In addition to instincts, dogs can also form associations with objects or activities. If a dog has a positive experience while licking a blanket, such as receiving attention or treats, they may associate that behavior with good things and continue to do it in the future. On the other hand, if a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they may lick objects, including blankets, as a coping mechanism.

It's important to consider these instincts and associations when trying to understand why your dog is licking their blanket. Is it a calming behavior, or are they associating it with positive reinforcement? If your dog is exhibiting excessive licking behavior or seems to be fixated on their blanket, it's worth consulting with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to rule out any medical concerns and address the behavior if necessary.

Medical Concerns to Consider

While blanket licking is often harmless and just a quirky behavior, it is important to be aware of any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your dog to lick excessively. Some potential medical concerns to consider include allergies, skin irritation, dental issues, or gastrointestinal problems. 

Allergies can cause itchiness and discomfort, leading dogs to seek relief through excessive licking. Skin irritation or infections, such as hot spots or dermatitis, may also cause a dog to lick excessively to soothe the affected area. Dental issues, such as gum disease or a cracked tooth, may cause pain or discomfort in a dog's mouth, leading them to lick as a coping mechanism. Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea or acid reflux, may cause a dog to lick in an attempt to soothe their upset stomach.

If you notice that your dog's licking behavior has increased or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in appetite or behavior, it is important to consult with your veterinarian. They can help determine if there is an underlying medical condition causing the behavior and provide appropriate treatment. 

Overall, while blanket licking is often a harmless behavior, it is important to be aware of any potential medical concerns that may be causing your dog to lick excessively. By understanding the possible causes, you can ensure that your dog stays happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Addressing Excessive Licking Behavior

While licking is a natural behavior for dogs, excessive licking can become a problem. If your dog is licking their blanket excessively, there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Here are a few things to consider when addressing excessive licking behavior in your furry friend:

  1. Speak with your vet. Your veterinarian may be able to help you identify any medical conditions that could be causing your dog's excessive licking behavior. This can include skin allergies or gastrointestinal issues.
  2. Consider your dog's environment. Is your dog bored or anxious? Dogs may lick excessively as a way to alleviate stress or boredom. Make sure your dog has plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied.
  3. Check for skin irritations. If your dog is excessively licking their blanket, they may be experiencing skin irritations or allergies. Check their skin for any redness, bumps, or irritation and speak with your veterinarian if you notice any issues.
  4. Use positive reinforcement training. If your dog is licking their blanket due to anxiety or stress, positive reinforcement training can be helpful in addressing this behavior. Offer your dog a treat or praise when they are not licking their blanket.
  5. Try a deterrent. If your dog is persistently licking their blanket, a deterrent can help discourage the behavior. There are many products available on the market designed to discourage licking behavior, including bitter sprays and chew deterrents.
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