What Can I Do About My Dog’s Excessive Grooming? – 2 Paws Up Inc.


As a pet owner, it can be upsetting to see your dog lick, chew, and groom themselves repeatedly. What is excessive dog grooming and licking? What can we do to lessen our pets’ distress and why do they act in this way?

What Kind of Dog Grooming or Licking Is Too Much?

Dogs typically lick their bellies, forearms, joints, and the spaces in between their toes. They may delicately lick these places, or they may bite or chew them vigorously.
However, excessive licking happens when a dog starts to feel uncomfortable from continual licking. This may include limping, bald spots, red patches on the skin, pimple-like lesions, dandruff, discoloration of the skin or coat, and hair loss.

While licking or grooming, certain animals may also display overt indications of discomfort. Vocalizing, whimpering, moaning, or groaning are examples of signs.

A dog’s licking may be excessive if you observe any of the following:
● Anywhere on their body, your dog’s skin is red, swollen, or covered with hair loss
● The impulse to lick or chew keeps your dog awake or prevents them from falling asleep
● When concentrated on a particular location, your dog sighs or whines
● Your dog frequently pauses play to lick or groom
● There are mats in your dog’s fur that are close to the skin
● Otherwise, your dog is unable to lead a typical life

Causes of a Dogs’ Excessive Licking

There are several reasons why dogs lick themselves excessively. The underlying cause, such as a skin ailment, pain, or behavioral problem, should be ascertained by your veterinarian. You can aid your vet in determining the source of your dog’s frequent licking by bringing photos or videos of your dog when they are doing it. Many dogs avoid exhibiting symptoms of disease at the clinic.

Dogs frequently lick themselves excessively for the following reasons:

Skin conditions and infections

Itching is not always a result of licking and grooming. Itching might be the culprit, though, if scratching is involved or the area is red, inflamed, or warm to the touch. Veterinarians can give your dog a variety of drugs to alleviate or cover up the itching, but the key worry is WHY your pet is itchy. The thorough examination by your veterinarian will start off with a focus on the irritated regions.

Other parasites include mites and fleas

A deep skin scrape, a diagnostic procedure that looks deep inside the follicles to rule out any ectoparasites like fleas or mites—which are famously itchy—may be performed by your veterinarian. It is crucial to identify the type of mites your veterinarian will check for, since they can spread to humans.

Infections caused by yeast, bacteria, and fungi

Once ectoparasites have been ruled out, your veterinarian may use a diagnostic tool called a tape prep to test for yeast, bacteria, or fungal infections on the skin and fur. The typical symptoms of bacterial and yeast infections include redness, discharge, and extreme itching.

Because yeast often prefer warm, wet, dark areas, yeast infections between toes, in the groin region, and in the ears are common. Discoloration and brownish-red discharge are typical symptoms of yeast infections. Additionally, you might see spots where the dog has licked that are discolored.

Ringworm and other fungal illnesses may not be as itchy. They can be identified by a ring-shaped pattern of hair loss and skin redness. To rule out fungus infections, special cultures, lighting, and follicle testing might be used.

Your veterinarian can choose the best course of treatment based on these findings, which may include an antibiotic, an antifungal, an antiparasitic, a steroid, or immune modulators.


If the diagnostic skin tests came back negative, your dog may have allergies. One of the most frequent causes of pruritus, or itching, is allergies. Environmental and dietary allergies are the two main categories. In addition to licking, chewing, and scratching, pets with allergies may also experience secondary digestive issues.

Many veterinarians advise utilizing a multimodal strategy, which entails combining a few different medications, to manage moderate allergies at home. Using omega-3 fatty acids, a relaxing shampoo, a topical mousse, or wipes in addition to antihistamines can be quite helpful for over-the-counter medication. Before beginning any medications or treatments, make sure to consult your veterinarian.

Remember that your pet may frequently require higher prescription drugs in order to feel well. Antibiotics or even prescription anti-itching medications may be necessary. A secondary bacterial infection frequently results from excessive scratching, licking, and grooming, setting off a painful cycle.

Dietary Allergies

Your veterinarian could advise a hypoallergenic food trial using a prescribed allergy diet if a food allergy is suspected. Before a food study shows results, it may take one to three months. As a result, it’s crucial to treat any ear or skin infections concurrently with the diet experiment.

You and your veterinarian would decide on the appropriate diet for your pet before starting a food trial; two popular options are hydrolyzed or novel protein. Your pet is not permitted to get any other food throughout the trial. The goal is to keep the diet free of any additional food allergies.

You can gradually start to reintroduce, or challenge, your pet’s system with one new food item at a time if they respond well to the diet experiment. Your pet is most likely allergic to the new food item if they start licking or overgrooming once more. To assess your pet’s allergy profile, repeat this challenge as many times as necessary.

Occupational Allergies

After your dog has finished a diet trial, environmental allergies, or atopy, can be looked into as an underlying cause of pruritus. Similar to food allergies, secondary infections of the skin or ears are highly prevalent and must be treated concurrently.

Although there are several drugs available to assist treat atopy, such as Apoquel, Cytopoint, or Atopica, allergy skin testing followed by immunotherapy, or desensitization, is the best long-term strategy for treating environmental allergies, especially in a young dog.


Veterinarians will think about arthritis, discomfort, and wounds as causes for excessive grooming and licking if there are no symptoms of allergies or skin infections. Dogs frequently lick their bodies’ sore spots.

Look carefully (and safely) for any lacerations, puncture wounds, or even tiny bug bites in the region your dog is licking. These could be very challenging to see if there is no hair loss. To properly evaluate the region, you might need to trim and clean it.

Instead of using household cleansers that can hurt dogs, including alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, clean the area with a gentle soap or soap made specifically for dogs. Most wounds necessitate medical attention and perhaps surgery.

Excessive grooming over joints may be a sign of degenerative joint disease, arthritis, soft tissue damage, or fractures. Along with these symptoms, you might experience limping and joint heat.

For arthritis, sprains and strains, and degenerative joint disease, there are a wide range of treatment choices, including prescription drugs, weight reduction programs, dietary supplements, laser therapy, physical therapy, and acupuncture.


An indication of nausea is if your pet is licking their lips, the air, carpet, or bedding, or if they are eating grass. Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, a decrease in appetite, an increase in stomach rumbling, or lip-smacking may also potentially be symptoms.

A dog may feel queasy or vomit for a variety of causes. A digestive tract obstruction, a dietary error (eating non-food substances), a diet change or sensitivity, inflammation, an infection, parasites, pancreatitis, toxicity, or disorders of other body systems are some of the more frequent reasons.

The cause and course of treatment for your pet’s nausea can be determined with the aid of common tests like x-rays and bloodwork. Take your pet to the hospital right away if they are unresponsive and unable to swallow food or drink.

Various Health Concerns

Think about where the licking is occurring. Uncomfortable long, cracked nails are a widespread problem. In this situation, a quick nail cut could resolve the issue. But dry, brittle nails can also be a symptom of autoimmune disorders and nutritional deficits.

Consult your veterinarian to identify the root of the problem if your dog’s nails are frequently broken, damaged, dry, or brittle. The coat and nails of your dog can be strengthened by omega-3 fatty acids and other dietary supplements, which will reduce licking and irritation of the nail and nail beds.

Your dog may have anal sac, urinary tract, or reproductive organ infections if they are concentrating their licking on their rectum or crotch. To rule out infection and impaction, your veterinarian may express your pet’s anal glands first. Evidence of infection, blood, urinary bladder stones, and inflammation can all be shown in urine samples. Female intact dogs (those who have not been spayed) should undergo a complete urogenital exam since they are more likely to develop serious, potentially fatal uterine infections.

A surgical biopsy of the area that your pet is licking, chewing, or otherwise distressing could be the last medical step. A pathologist examines the biopsy sample in an attempt to identify any abnormal cells and make a diagnosis.

Fear/Behavioral Problems

The excessive licking and grooming may be a behavioral issue if all medical causes, such as itching, infections, allergies, nausea, or pain, have been ruled out.


Dogs’ boredom causes them to lick, groom, and itch. Try increasing your pet’s regular exercise or giving them a job if you notice that they groom themselves largely while they are unoccupied. Many dogs require mental exercise, which can be provided by fly ball, agility, or obedience training. Time-released treats or puzzles with hidden treats can keep their minds active.


Over-the-counter therapies are a logical next step if anxiety is a problem.
A vest called the Thundershirt uses gentle, continuous pressure to reduce stress, fear, and excessive excitement. This tender hugging has a calming impact comparable to swaddling a baby.

Pheromones are used by Adaptil to reduce stress and anxiety. Composure and other calming treats are helpful for dogs who are stressed out due to their environment or who are nervous, hyperactive, or anxious.

Prescription anti-anxiety drugs like Prozac are helpful for many animals as well. Determining the proper strength and combinations of prescription medications can take some time and patience.


Overgrooming and licking can hurt and be stressful. Dogs cannot communicate, so it is up to dog owners and veterinary professionals to collaborate and play the role of detectives. Using the many tools at our disposal, it is possible to put the puzzle pieces together and resolve the underlying issue so your dog can get back to living their best life.


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