Dogs lick things—it’s a natural behavior for them. But what if your dog has started licking the floor suddenly and you can’t get them to stop?
Licking doesn’t typically become a problem until it becomes constant or obsessive. If you can’t distract your dog from licking the ground, that’s a good indication that you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
If your dog is licking the floor suddenly, they may be bored, anxious, or lack nutrition. There are also a number of medical problems that cause a dog to lick the floor, such as Cushing’s disease, liver failure, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
It’s important to figure out why your dog is licking the floor and to address the problem directly. But in the meantime, make sure you’re keeping the floor clean and aren’t using any harsh chemicals that could hurt your dog when ingested.
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Why is My Dog Licking the Floor Suddenly?
Anytime your dog begins to act strangely or has a change in behavior, it’s a good idea to bring them into the vet for a check-up. Things like licking might not seem like a big deal, but they can be a medical symptom, especially if the behavior arises suddenly.
Hopefully, you either have clean floors or know when your dog is licking up a spill. But just in case, make sure your dog isn’t just cleaning up some food or drink that’s spilled onto the ground.
Your dog will definitely start licking the floor suddenly if the ground tastes like a treat!
Think about how much exercise your dog is getting. Are you spending enough time tiring them out, or are they bored with no way to release their energy throughout the day?
A bored dog can form many bad habits that help them release energy, and one of these is obsessive licking.
If you don’t know how much exercise your dog needs, try looking into their specific breed for some guidance. Almost all dogs should be getting daily walks, though the duration may vary. They should also have toys to play with in your home.
Larger breeds should have outdoor space in which they can roam, while smaller dogs will have an easier time burning off energy inside your house.
Some breeds, especially those with a short snout, have trouble exercising or going outside in hot weather. This is because they have been bred poorly, which affects their ability to breathe and regulate their body temperature.
For these dogs, you may have to find ways to exercise them inside, especially during the summer months.
A dog who licks the floor obsessively might have anxiety. Licking can be a coping mechanism to burn off their nervous energy.
If you think your dog has anxiety, it’s important to pay attention to what makes them anxious. Maybe it’s you leaving for work, guests staying at your home, or a life change that’s happened recently.
Once you’ve identified what triggers their stress, you can begin finding solutions. For example, if your dog gets anxious when you’re about to leave home, they likely have separation anxiety.
You’ll have to teach them that you leaving is nothing to fear. This is a lengthy process that requires a lot of patience.
One method you could use is to desensitize your dog to the steps they associate with you leaving—such as opening the front door or picking up your keys.
If your dog is nervous around guests, perhaps they need to sit near you to feel comfortable, to be fed treats by your guests to get used to having other people in your home, or to have a comfy place, like their crate, to go to where they can feel safe.
Lack of Nutrition
Like humans, dogs can sometimes eat inappropriate things when they’re malnourished. In this case, your dog is licking the floor instead of eating something inappropriate, but it’s the same concept. They’re subconsciously trying to receive the nutrients they’re lacking.
A great way to figure this out is to bring your dog’s food, or a photo of it, to your veterinarian. They can tell you if it contains everything your dog needs to thrive, or if it’s missing key ingredients.
If a lack of nutrition is your dog’s problem, a simple change in diet should be able to stop their floor licking habit.
Other Health Problems
A small study showed that almost three in four dogs with excessive licking behaviors have a gastrointestinal disease. This study only included nineteen dogs, but it’s still compelling evidence that your dog may need to see their veterinarian.
It’s possible your dog ate something they shouldn’t have and now feel sick or have an obstruction in their digestive system. Pain in the mouth can also cause excessive licking.
This is why it’s incredibly important to bring your dog to the veterinarian when a sudden change occurs in their behavior—seemingly innocent symptoms can be the key to diagnosing life-threatening illnesses.
Paying attention to the smaller signs, like your dog licking the floor suddenly, can help you and your veterinarian to catch an illness or disease in its early phases while it’s still treatable. This can literally be the difference between life and death for your pup!
Why is My Dog Licking the Floor and Panting?
Panting and licking the floor are both signs of stress. It may be that your dog is feeling anxious or has an underlying medical problem, as outlined above.
It also may be that your dog ate something they shouldn’t have, and are ill or have an obstruction in their digestive system.
Why is My Dog Licking My Tile Floor?
Dogs licking tiled floor aren’t showing a different symptom than those licking carpeting. As we dug into further above, your pup may be anxious, bored, or ill.
If you’re uncertain, it’s best to get your veterinarian’s opinion on the matter. Be sure to mention how long your dog has been licking the floor, what kind of food they’re eating, and anything else you’ve noticed about their behavior.
My Dog is Licking the Floor and Vomiting!
Some dogs will lick the floor before vomiting. While this in itself isn’t a reason to panic, you should keep a close eye on your dog.
If they only vomit once, keep watch over them for the next few days.
If they are constantly vomiting, or show other symptoms that are worrying, bring them to the vet as soon as possible.
A vomiting dog may have gotten into something they shouldn’t have. They may have swallowed a non-food item or eaten something toxic, such as a houseplant, cleaning supplies, or a food that’s poisonous to dogs.
My Senior Dog has Suddenly Started Licking the Floor
Sudden behaviors in senior dogs are especially serious, as they are more likely to develop health conditions than younger dogs.
If your senior dog is suddenly licking the floor, you should speak to your veterinarian right away.
When your dog starts suddenly licking the floor or other surfaces, it can be easy to think worst-case scenario. We hope this article has helped to inform you on the matter—but remember, don’t panic!
The best thing you can do for your pup is to stay calm and speak to your veterinarian if necessary.