How To Stop A Dog From Licking Himself: 7 Steps You Can Try
Does your dog lick himself constantly? Yes, it can really be annoying but it can also mean something serious, like anxiety, dry skin, allergies, or even pain. If you’re almost at your wit’s end, then you’re lucky because in this article I’ll teach you how to stop a dog from licking himself.
It’s important that you put a stop to this licking habit because it can cause an acral lick granuloma, a condition where a thick and rubbery skin is developed. This condition can be a nuisance when infected because it would be difficult to clear up. To get you started, keep on reading.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need some old T-shirt to wear for your dog. This will keep him from licking his body constantly. If you need to cover his front legs, you can use a long-sleeved shirt.
Make sure that the shirt fits the size of your dog. The least thing you need is to have your dog dragging a large shirt which can make him uncomfortable. You want a shirt that fits his body to a T.
Your dog might not like the shirt but this is a good short-term solution until you can get your dog a bath. If your dog becomes difficult, you can ditch the shirt with a cone collar.
- Cone Collar
A cone collar is a great temporary solution to stop your dog from licking his irritated or raw skin. There are many cone collars available in the market but what you should look for is comfort. You want a collar that’s made of breathable and lightweight fabric, like this one.
To protect your dog’s legs from irritation, make him wear some booties, like this one. Look for waterproof materials because they can last longer in wet grounds. To protect your dog’s paws from the cold weather and provide better control, look for grooved soles and a flexible lug design.
- Damp Paper Towel
If your dog doesn’t like to wear these booties, you can let him walk bare footed. Just make sure that you use a damp paper towel to remove any potential causes of allergies, such as dust, pollens, or chemicals. To make a paper towel damp, simply put a few drops of water.
A topical parasiticide is effective if you want to put a stop your dog’s licking due to fleas or mites. A product like Revolution can eliminate all types of creepy crawlies within one day. You can only administer this topical medication for dog’s age at least 6 weeks.
Alternatively, you can use Benadryl to stop your dog from licking himself due to itchiness. This medicine will provide temporary relief while you work to reduce the real cause. Since the dose on the box is intended for humans, you need to ask your vet for proper dosage.
Chamomile Tea Bag + Water
Calming herbs are a great relief for dogs whose underlying cause of excessive licking is stress. Several examples of calming herbs are lemon balm, chamomile, and green tea. Personally, my dog responds more quickly to chamomile so I highly recommend it.
The best way to administer this remedy is to turn it into tea. For this reason, you also need hot water along with the chamomile. If you have chamomile leaves, the better. If you don’t, use any regular chamomile tea bag.
You’ll need toys to divert the attention of your dog from his licking habit. The best distraction toys that you can consider are Kong-type toys, like the classic dog toy which you can stuff with treats. I usually stuff some peanut butter on the dog toy of my Fido and he loves it very much.
Lick Repellent Spray
A commercial lick repellent spray is great for discouraging your dog to lick himself. It works by reducing hot spots so your dog can stop licking. What I use is the Grannick’s Bitter Apple which is safe and nontoxic.
Regardless of the brand you choose, consult you vet for its safety. If you can’t afford a commercial lick repellent spray, you can use any of these natural alternatives.
Hot Sauce + Water
White Vinegar + Apple Cider Vinegar
Lemon Juice + White Vinegar
A hot sauce seems to be one of the best alternatives to repel him from licking himself. You know that hot sauce burns so to protect your dog’s tongue and skin from burning, you’ll need water to weaken its strength.
Another alternative is to use apple cider vinegar and white vinegar. Together, they create a strong scent that will discourage your dog to lick himself. You’ll need about one cup of white vinegar and two cups of apple cider vinegar.
If you want something citrusy, combine white vinegar with lemon juice. You’ll need one cup of white vinegar and two cups of lemon juice to be exact. Since one lemon can produce 1/4 of juice, you’ll need to use four pieces of lemons
The spray bottle will serve as the place where you’ll mix your natural lick repellent spray ingredients. I don’t recommend using a plastic spray bottle because it may leech some BPA chemicals faster.
If you must use plastic, make sure that it’s BPA-free. You can also look for a glass spray bottle to avoid this unnecessary problem.
A piece of tissue comes in handy when you’ll be giving your dog a little taste of the lick repellent spray. You can use any tissue you have at home. If you don’t have any tissue, you can use a paper towel.
You’ll need a brush to remove any mats and tangles from your dog’s coat. The best brush for tangles and mats is a slicker brush which has fine wire bristles. A wire-pin brush is ideal for dogs with curly or woolly coats.
A bristle brush, one the other hand, can suit all types of coat. However, the bristle’s spacing and length may vary. As a general rule, you need to pick a longer and more widely spaced bristles for longer hair.
Obviously, you need a shampoo to bathe your dog. To ensure effectiveness, look for something that’s approved by vets. You may want a moisturizing shampoo if your dog has dry, flaky, or itchy skin. Ignore scented shampoos because they often contain chemicals which can irritate the skin of your dog.
Look for natural ingredients, like honey, oatmeal, and vitamin E. If your dog has ticks and fleas, choose a shampoo that’s made to both prevent and kill fleas and ticks. Be aware that this type of shampoo can only provide a short-term solution that’s why it’s important that you use it together with other flea and tick prevention solutions.
Step-By-Step Instructions On How To Stop A Dog From Licking Himself
Determine The Root Cause
When trying to stop your dog from his licking habit, determine the root cause first. There are many causes of excessive licking behavior which includes boredom or stress, skin disorders, pain, or he needs a bath.
Continuous licking in dogs may be similar to a human chewing his nails when he’s bored. Your dog may also be stressed due to several reasons, like new adoption, separation anxiety, or change in diet. If you think that this is the problem, proceed to step 3.
Your dog can also develop a chronic licking habit if he suffers a skin problem. The two common skin problems are dermatitis or mange. While dermatitis happens due to allergies, mange is often caused by mites. If you suspect that your dog is suffering a skin problem, proceed to step 4.
If your dog constantly plays outside, the reason why he is constantly licking himself is that he’s probably dirty. In his case, you need to give him a bath which is more detailed in step 5.
Consult Your Vet
Your dog may be injured and has an open wound that’s why he licks himself excessively. This is a dog’s natural instinct as his saliva can help kill some germs. Check your dog and if you notice that he repeatedly chew his paw, then chances are he might have a sharp object stuck in his foot pad.
If you find that your dog is in pain and his wound contains a foreign material, then it’s time to visit your vet to ask for treatment. If not, rule out this issue and try other possible solutions
Keep Him Entertained Or Calm His Nerves
If you suspect that your dog is bored, keep him entertained by giving him a Kong dog toy which you can stuff some of his favorite treats, like peanut butter. You can also try to increase his physical activities.
Now if think that your dog is anxious and stressed, you can give him 1-4 teaspoons of chamomile tea, depending on the size of your dog. To make, pour some hot water on the chamomile tea and steep for 5-10 minutes. Watch how to make chamomile tea in this video.
Rule out this issue if you find that your dog is still licking himself after doing all the suggestions above.
Address Skin Disorders
Your dog may be suffering from skin disorders like mange or dermatitis that’s why he’s licking himself too much. To kill any fleas or mites, apply a topical pesticide, like Revolution, to your dog. As instructed by its box, apply it once a month on the similar day of every month annually.
To apply, part the hair of your dog at the base of his neck until you can see his skin. Now position the tube’s tip on the skin and apply the contents to a single spot. For visual reference, watch this video.
For temporary relief, you can also give him some Benadryl. But before you do, ask your vet about it for proper dosage.
Give Him A Bath
If you think that your dog is licking himself because he’s dirty, you can give him a bath. Cleaning your dog may remove any dirt or fleas that might have irritated his skin.
Before you give him a bath, brush his hair to remove any tangles or mats. Use a moisturizing shampoo if your dog has dry skin. If your dog has fleas, use a shampoo that’s designed to kill them.
Use A Lick Repellent Spray
Once you have ruled out all the issues above, you can put a stop to your dog’s excessive licking by applying a lick repellent spray throughout his body. Don’t forget to spray on legs and paws.
Alternatively, you can use some natural lick repellent sprays. In a spray bottle, mix any of these combo ingredients: hot sauce + water; 2 cups apple cider vinegar + 1 cup white vinegar; or 2 cups lemon juice + 1 cup white vinegar. Using a piece of tissue, apply a small amount of the mixture and let your dog taste it to connect him to the unpleasant taste and odor. Spray on his whole body and reapply daily for the first few weeks.
Put Him A Shirt And Booties
Prevent your dog from licking himself by putting a T-shirt or cone collar on him. You can also cover this paws with the right fit of booties. If your dog doesn’t like the booties, just let him walk barefoot but remember to wipe his paw with a damp paper towel.
Don’t use a lick repellent spray if your dog has open wounds. If your dog has allergies, consult your vet first.
Tell your dog “No” and give him a treat or a toy to chew on if he follows your command.
If your dog has skin irritations, you can change his diet into more natural and wholesome.
Did you have fun learning the steps on how to stop a dog from licking himself? There are many causes of excessive licking that’s why you need to rule out one issue from another to finally address it properly. Several causes include boredom, pain, skin disorder, and he needs a bath. Remember, if your dog is in pain and discovered that he’s injured, consult a vet for professional help.
Do you have a dog that licks himself excessively? Tell us how you put a stop to it and tell us what you think of the article in the comments section. Don’t forget to share this article if you like it.