Let’s Explore – Why Do Chihuahuas Lick So Much?
Why do Chihuahuas lick so often is a question that many a person has asked?
People who share their homes with Chis learn to get used to little behavior quirks that you don’t always find in other breeds.
One of these quirks is a seeming tendency to lick anyone or anything in sight.
What are some of the reasons Chihuahuas lick so much?
Read on to learn more about some of these reasons:
Do Chihuahuas Lick to Show Affection?
Licking is a behavior that Chihuahuas become accustomed to early in puppyhood.
Mother dogs lick to clean their puppies, as well as stimulate defecation and urination.
Puppies will learn to associate this behavior with caregiving and extend it as a form of affection.
Also, think about the behavior between mother wolves and their cubs.
Wolf cubs lick their mothers’ mouths when they want regurgitated food, and this is a form of bonding that domestic dogs have readily adopted.
Chihuahua owners should consider their dogs licking them to be showing care and love.
However, dogs can get carried away with their licking sometimes.
Teaching a Chi the words “No” or “Stop”, then walking away, can help them know when they need to cease their licking.
This type of command is helpful for teaching your dog not to lick visitors who would rather not deal with licking.
When Chihuahuas Are Curious They Often Lick
Chihuahuas and dogs, in general, like to explore things that are unknown through licking. In many cases, the dog has been attracted to a food or drink spill.
When a dog is unsure whether what they are after is edible, licking helps the dog decide if what they are curious about is worth trying.
If you’ve recently showered or applied scented lotion, a Chi might be likely to try to lick your face, hands, or feet.
In this case, the dog is most likely attracted to the smell from the soap or lotion.
If accessible to them, some dogs will try to lick the floor of the tub or shower stall.
Some owners have said that their Chihuahuas are always trying to lick their feet when they’ve gotten their shoes off.
The sweat that your feet generate after you’ve worn shoes all day is something that can attract curiosity.
Some dogs are attracted to sweaty foot smells to the extent that they will lick the carpets and flooring.
Although lapping objects, the floor, or peoples’ skin is not harmful in and of itself, this behavior should be discouraged.
Dogs that lick up spilled foods or beverages that are harmless will also lick up substances that are harmful.
Because Chihuahuas are such small dogs, it would not take much of a toxic substance to accidentally poison one of these dogs.
Another reason to discourage excessive lapping, especially involving other people, is that some might object to this type of behavior.
You probably don’t want to have to keep apologizing to your guests because your Chi keeps lapping them.
“No” or “Stop” also come in handy in these types of situations.
Licking is an Important Way for Chihuahuas to Clean Themselves
You might have noticed your Chihuahua licking their coat a lot. These dogs enjoy staying clean and will groom themselves a lot.
When Chis share their homes with other dogs, they will often groom each other a lot as an act of affection.
Chihuahuas might also groom themselves a little more after being outside in rainy or muddy conditions.
Some dogs may even have an objection to going outside under all such conditions.
Wiping your dog down, including their paws, after a visit outside may reduce some of this type of behavior.
What Are Some Compulsive Reasons for Chihuahuas to Lick?
There are some reasons for Chihuahuas to lick that are mostly behavior-based.
Depending on the circumstances, these may or may not signal a larger problem that requires further attention.
Understanding some of the reasons behind these types of behavior can help owners determine whether there is a problem requiring their attention.
Chihuahuas Might Lick Because They Are Bored
Boredom is a problem that afflicts dogs, just as much as it does people.
Even though dogs express their dissatisfaction differently from the way we do, dogs act out their boredom, too.
For some Chihuahuas, acting out of boredom might take the form of excessive licking, of either themselves or objects.
Chis and many other dogs lack appropriate daily stimulation. Your dog appreciates being with you and shows appreciation through affection.
However, dogs still require enough stimulation every day to avoid getting bored and acting out because of their boredom.
Regular physical activity daily will alleviate much of your dog’s boredom. You could try walking your dog daily or have some time for frolicking in the backyard.
If your dog is not inclined to spend a lot of time outside, you could use interactive toys to help provide the appropriate stimulation.
Anxious and Stressed Chihuahuas Lick More
Dogs can have anxiety issues, just as people do.
Think of a dog licking itself or items around the house excessively in the same light as a person showing signs of anxiety or stress biting their nails.
The excess lapping is a sign that the Chihuahua is trying to overcome distress.
An environment that is as stress-free as reasonably possible is necessary when the dog shows anxiety or stress.
Use a quiet room or area of your home where the Chi can relax when stressed. Make sure you have a room or part of the house where outside noise is minimal.
Make sure you turn off or at least dim the lights in the room where the Chihuahua prefers to sleep at night.
Keeping everything dark and activity-free will signal to your dog that it’s time to sleep. A well-rested dog is a much calmer dog.
Be mindful of your movements around your Chi if they are overcoming stress. A calm demeanor and slower movements will help reduce your dog’s stress level.
You always want to remember that dogs pick up on their owners’ energy and act accordingly.
Calming sprays can also be helpful for making your Chihuahua feel more at ease.
These sprays are an excellent way to make your Chihuahua feel calmer, with minimal effort. There are also calming collars or vests that you may wish to try.
Medical Reasons for Chihuahuas to Lick
In addition to behavioral issues, there are also medical reasons for Chihuahuas to lick excessively.
For the most part, these issues are relatively easy to manage.
You will find it helpful to be aware of these issues so that you may deal with them appropriately.
Pain Might Be a Reason for Chihuahuas to Lick
Sometimes Chihuahuas lick excessively due to pain, particularly when the paws or legs are involved.
A wood splinter or a thorn can be the culprit when a dog in pain licks or chews. A muscle strain, wound, or arthritis can also be behind the pain issues.
A quick inspection of your dog’s body will help you spot any problems. Be sure to look at all four limbs and their paws.
Dogs are good at concealing pain as necessary due to their survival instincts.
Skin Irritations and Allergies Can Trigger Licking
Licking is more common in Chihuahuas than many realize when these dogs have dry skin.
Although scratching is common, some Chis might default to licking. Dry skin can be very uncomfortable in dogs prone to sensitive skin.
Cold weather is one common reason for a dog to have dry skin. Sometimes a fatty acid deficiency can be to blame.
A nutritionally-complete food will usually help correct deficiencies.
Sometimes allergies are at least partially to blame, especially with hair loss or pink, inflamed areas.
The most common offenders include grass, pollen, weeds, dust mites, or dander.
Other sources of allergies include food ingredients, flea and tick products, medications, or household cleaning products.
Itching, especially around the paws, can cause excess licking.
A consequence of too much licking can result in a condition called canine acral lick dermatitis, which some call lick granuloma.
Warm washcloths can help alleviate some of the irritation.
There are over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help your dog. Naturopathic and herbal remedies can also be helpful.
Always see your vet if any of the irritated areas turn into open wounds, especially if a discharge is involved.
The Role of Hormone Imbalances
Dogs are capable of having hormone imbalances that can indirectly contribute to excessive licking.
Chihuahuas are somewhat susceptible to producing excess cortisol. Another common issue with this breed is thyroid deficiency.
Either of these imbalances can cause superficial skin infections.
If you have noticed any bald spots in your Chi’s coat, there is a chance one of these infections might be to blame.
Because these infections can cause some discomfort, you need to make sure your dog gets the proper medical attention.
What About Pests?
Chihuahuas can lick because of irritation caused by mites, fleas, and ticks. These pests are a common reason for dogs to lick a lot.
If the dog is also scratching a lot, this is also a sign that pests are a likely problem.
Check your dog for fleas and ticks regularly. A great time to look for these pests is immediately after finishing a walk.
Mites are only visible under a microscope, but if your Chi seems itchy and you don’t see fleas or ticks, mites could be the problem.
When you suspect some type of pest infestation, follow up with your vet. Administering medications is most effective and safe under veterinary supervision.
Your vet will have a better idea of which drugs are best, depending on your dog’s circumstances.
Dental and Gum Infections
Have you noticed your Chihuahua licking their lips very often? Tooth and gum issues may be responsible for this behavior.
Because Chis have such small mouths, they are more likely to have dental issues than many other breeds.
When you suspect tooth or gum issues, you will want to consider having the vet check things out.
Abscessed teeth can cause a lot of additional problems if not given proper attention.
The sooner a vet addresses your dog’s dental issues, the sooner they will feel comfortable again.
There are many reasons Chihuahuas might lick, sometimes to excess. The reasons might be as innocent as showing affection or investigating something new.
Behavioral or health issues may also be part of the problem.
If you notice your Chihuahua acting in any way that is outside the norm, following up with your vet is essential.
Even if the reason for your dog’s behavior is something benign, you will have greater peace of mind.