When they see strange behavior in their dogs such as excessive licking, dog owners will often be puzzled by this and wonder what causes it. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and found that there are many possible reasons behind the sudden change in your dog. In this comprehensive guide, we give the answer to “Why do dogs lick blankets” and elaborate on the reasons behind it and when to seek professional help for your pup.
Why Dogs Lick Blankets
There are a variety of reasons behind your dog licking blankets or pillows, but make sure to take note of the root cause behind this weird behavior. For instance, if your dog only starts blanket licking when you leave it alone, it might be due to your dog’s anxiety or boredom. But if your dog licks a blanket while you’re petting it, then it could be because it thoroughly enjoys this sign of affection and wants more of it.
Below are just some of the most common reasons behind your dog’s obsessive licking.
Lacking Essential Nutrients
Much like people, dogs also need to eat a balanced diet to maintain a healthy body. Certain nutritional deficiencies in dogs may lead to many health problems such as joint and skin disorders. When dogs don’t get the nutrition they need, they may start some kind of licking behavior thinking it will make up for their deficiency.
You’ll often see this in dogs that eat a low-quality diet of table scraps or kibble. Furniture and blankets will give a different texture for dogs to lick, which is why they turn to these things for a more satisfying meal. There are cases when this learned behavior can persist even after correcting the deficiency through a change in diet, so you may need the help of an animal behaviorist.
We all want our pet dog to stay healthy and happy and fortunately, there are many nutritious foods available for your furry friend to eat that contain all the vitamins and minerals it needs. When choosing the right dog food for your pooch, you’ll want to stick to these guidelines.
- Age appropriate: Dogs will have a different set of nutritional needs depending on the life stage they’re in. For instance, puppies will need foods rich in proteins and calories to help them grow quickly.
- Size appropriate: Smaller dogs will have a higher metabolic rate compared to larger dogs and will need more calories per pound in their food.
- Breed appropriate: Specific dog breeds will have a predisposition to certain health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease. Your vet will be able to recommend a diet specifically formulated for your puppy.
It’s also important to remember that water is a necessary part of your dog’s diet. If you want to keep your pooch from licking blankets, be sure to give it enough water. This is especially important during summer when they need to cool their bodies; at times like this, your dog will need a consistent water supply. If you’re not sure about the best food for your dog, consult a dog behaviorist or your vet to get a diet that’s tailored to your dog’s needs.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Canine-compulsive disorder (CCD) can be diagnosed through normal behaviors that have become excessive to the point that it interferes with your dog’s quality of life. When a dog suffers from obsessive-compulsive behavior it has an irresistible urge to keep doing something. Dogs may also use it as a means to reduce signs of separation anxiety.
For instance, dogs that have OCD may resort to licking furniture, blankets, and carpets to cope with the anxiety they feel, which provides them with a sense of relief and calm. Unfortunately, this disorder will often be seen in dogs inside high-stress environments like rescues and homes with many pets. If you think your dog is suffering from compulsive licking be sure to talk to your vet who will help to rule out possible medical reasons as to why your dog lick blankets.
Most of the time, your vet will prescribe anti-anxiety medication like fluoxetine (Prozac) to help treat your dog’s OCD. Other times, it may also be necessary to apply behavior modification; you can provide your dog with a chew toy to keep its mind away from your blankets. Below are a few things you can try to encourage behavioral changes in your dog and help it manage OCD.
- Reduce the stress around anxious dogs by giving them a quiet place for resting like a bed or crate.
- Give it training sessions with a dog trainer who will give it positive reinforcement and help eliminate the destructive behavior.
- Give your dog new toys such as puzzle toys to keep it occupied along with interactive games to challenge it mentally.
- Give your dog enough exercise on a regular basis to tire it out both physically and mentally.
One of the most common medical causes behind blanket licking in dogs is a digestive issue; some dogs will lick blankets in an attempt to soothe an upset stomach. Dogs with sensitive digestive systems will often encounter gastrointestinal problems such as pancreatitis or gastritis. Unfortunately, these conditions can be painful and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and a lack of appetite for your pooch.
If you see that your dog is suffering from gastrointestinal issues, take it to your vet to get it diagnosed. The vet will be able to tell you what’s causing the problem, and if it’s due to the food your dog eats, your vet will be able to recommend a more appropriate diet for your canine buddy. Once you establish the connection between your dog’s licking and the complications in their tummy, you’ll need to make changes to help your dog drop these behavioral issues.
- Start by gradually mixing small amounts of the new food with their old food.
- Increase the amount of their new food every day while also decreasing their old food.
- After a few days to a week, your dog should be fully adjusted to eating the new food.
It’s also essential that you feed your best friend with the appropriate amount of dog food. Giving it too much can lead to obesity and will create a wide range of medical issues such as respiratory problems, diabetes, and joint pain.
This condition causes dogs to eat non-food items like rocks, dirt, socks, and even blankets. While it’s quite rare, this underlying cause for blanket licking can be dangerous since it can interrupt your dog’s normal digestive process, cause blockage in the intestine, and your dog may potentially consume something toxic. One theory behind why dogs may develop pica is that they might be lacking a particular nutrient in their diet that makes them want to eat other items.
Pica can also be the result of stress or boredom; dogs may turn to eating and chewing non-food items to help them cope with an underlying issue. If your dog has been diagnosed with this condition, it’s a good idea to change its diet and work with your vet to see which nutrients it’s lacking and which supplements will help. You may also want to switch your dog over to 3 to 4 smaller meals per day to give its body enough time to absorb and digest the nutrients it needs.
Pet parents should also limit their dog’s access to things that could be the possible causes behind their dog’s licking. If it’s licking on blankets, give it different kinds of chew toys and if your dog loves to eat dirt, be sure to clean your yard and floors daily. But if your puppy has pica as a result of stress or boredom, find ways to keep it calm and occupied by giving it mental stimulation, training, and more exercise.
How to Stop Your Dog From Licking Blankets
If your dog has suddenly changed from its normal behavior to licking blankets, you may be concerned; luckily, there are some things you can do to help your dog stop.
Provide the Right Diet
As discussed above, dogs will sometimes like blankets and furniture in order to compensate for the nutrients that are lacking in their diet. The best way to stop this from happening is to feed your pooch a balanced and nutritious diet. A healthy diet for dogs should be composed of the following:
- Essential fatty acids
- High-quality proteins
- Calories and carbohydrates
- A range of vegetables and fruits
If you’re unsure of what to put in your dog’s diet, talk to your vet and get the help you need to see which foods to use in your dog’s meals and if there are any changes to make in their diet. You’ll also need to avoid foods that can cause gastrointestinal problems or allergies that may trigger your dog such as soy, wheat, corn, beef, and chicken. Dogs that are allergic to certain ingredients will experience skin irritation and will bite and lick to relieve itchiness.
Give it Mental Stimulation
When your dog licks blankets as a way of coping with stress or boredom, providing it with puzzles and toys is the best option to keep it mentally challenged and to occupy its time. You can also take the first step to build the bond between you and your best friend by giving it training. If your fur baby is stressed, you’ll need to check for the cause and then implement environmental changes to remove it.
During times when this isn’t possible, you can help your pup cope in other ways by giving it a safe space, teaching it techniques to relax, or using pheromone diffusers. Alternatively, you can also take your dog to daycare where the loud noises will keep them alert. Interacting with other dogs is also a great way to get your furry friend to forget about licking blankets.
Check its Licking Patterns
It’s vital that you check your dog’s licking behavior to see what causes it and to help you find the best way to stop it. If your dog starts excessively licking suddenly, it could be a sign of a possible medical condition and should be taken to your vet quickly. But if you see that your dog only licks blankets once in a while, it’s likely to be an occasional response to a strong scent or taste.
Other times, they may also be trying to show their affection. If this is the case, you can simply provide your dog with a chew toy. You can also try to redirect their sense of smell and taste to a treat or a small meal to help them stop licking.
Give it More Exercise
Licking excessively may also be a dog’s way of releasing energy; if your dog has excess energy, you may need to give them exercise for long periods of time. Doing this will help them burn off stored energy and can help to stop the licking. Try all kinds of exercise such as runs, walks, swimming, fetch, and even agility courses — be sure to find something that your dog can enjoy and play with together daily.
Try Crate Training
If all else fails, try crate training your dog if you can’t keep an eye on it at all times; this option will give your dog its own space where it can feel secure and safe. When you start crate training, do so slowly and gradually to help them become more comfortable and see it as a positive experience. You can also place your dog’s favorite treat or toy inside the crate to encourage it.
When your dog licks blankets, it could be an indication of diet deficiencies, separation anxiety, stress, boredom, or a combination of these conditions. If its blanket licking reaches the point where you’re becoming concerned, then be sure to keep a close eye on your pal and talk to your vet. Your veterinarian will be able to suggest various solutions to help your dog stop its obsession with blankets depending on the behavioral reasons for licking.