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constant licking

by Darline Hawley

My lovable, adorable two year old maltese, Candy, licks almost continually! We love her, but she licks the air, our clothing, the carpet...anything and everything almost constantly, and always has. Why is she doing this and what can we do to get her to stop???


Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that many of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinarian medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.

Darline, She licks air too? !! Does she have lots of toys, and maybe chew toys? If not, maybe she is just bored...they do lick to show affection, but this seems a little extreme. I would try to give her some things that are safe, to lick.
-Robin K.

I have that concern too, only my dog constantly licks her stomache until she gives herself a rash and she is always licking her feet. I checked to see if there is anything between her toes but there never is. I have also noticed that she will lick us too when she wants something and she won't stop until we find out what it is.

According to my vet the Maltese can be prone to skin sensitivity (dry skin and bites from bugs). Any shampoos that include ingredients that fight fles will cause such licking. My Maltese is especially fond of licking his belly during the summer months. I suggest you notice when the 'hyper' licking starts and get it professionally groomed every six weeks during this time. I have also found that the new liquid product for fleas that is applied to the back of the neck eases the discomfort of my doggie. Oatmeal based shampoos appear to help as well. Hope this helps.

Deb, thanks for the hints. "Candy" doesn't lick herself a lot. She just licks everything else...or nothing else. It's weird. I sure wish I knew what to do because as much as I love holding her on my lap, it's hard to ignore. She eventually stops and falls asleep but until then it's annoying!

Hi, my Jewel also likes to lick a little too much but i honestly think its her way of showing her affection for us. I do try to distract her when i'm holding her and it starts to get out of control I usually try to talk to her calmly and pet her while not allowing anymore kisses she's starting to calm down a bit which is all i want her to do, i know i could'nt live without most of her kisses!
-Karen and Jewel

Darline, I just had a thought! When Taffy was little, she had to have baby teeth removed that did not come out, and instead they pushed up into her gums. She kept licking "nothing". I thought at first she had fur in her mouth, but further investigation found the teeth! Maybe thats it! Check her mouth, or have the vet check, maybe there is something there! Let us know!
-Robin K.

I read an article a couple of issues back in Dog Fancy where they talked about licking air, etc. and said it is sometimes a compulsive disorder (much like people who have to keep going back home to check the oven or who constantly wash their hands). I would talk to the vet about it and see what info you can get--in this article, they were talking about using Prozac to help (not sure that's such a hot idea, myself) but my veterinarian prescribes "natural" treatments similar to the sorts of things many people are taking these days (Bach Flower treatments, etc) in dog doses. I will tell you that my rescue dog, Carty, is always wound tight--always ready to protect himself and poor little guy, now he thinks he has to protect me and Lucy too. I have been putting a drop of Rescue Remedy (which you can get at most local health food stores) which has essences to reduce stress. Over the past couple of weeks he has not only calmed down LOTS, but actually has begun actively seeking out hugs and kisses and giving them as well. So, I would check with my vet and see if they offer any kind of alternative or holistic medical treatment. You might even want to consider acupuncture--but DO let your vet check this out first.
-cathy brown

Robin...you just may be right! I've never thought of that. We have thought that she was licking the fur in her mouth or something. Actually, lately she has had rather bad breath too. I wonder if the two are connected. I had her at the vet a few months ago for her shots and he kind of laughed when I asked about it. Maybe it's time for a new vet!

I have two one year old maltese sisters, Katie Belle and Suzie Q. Katie licks at her bottom all the time. I've checked it, and there doesn't seem to be any type of sore or flea for her to lick at. I try to keep their fur trimmed in that area to avoid poo getting caught, maybe that is why?

Have your dog tested for Cushings Disease right away! One symptom of the disease is constant licking.

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