Obsessive licking is something I’ve touched on in the past as it relates to possible health issues and hot spots. I recently came across a post that made me decide to discuss this issue again but with a different angle. The owner posted a question about one of her dogs obsessively licking her other dog’s genitals. That could mean a possible problem brewing, or it could actually mean nothing. So today, we’re going to talk about obsessive licking of one dog by another dog.
What Obsessive Licking can Mean
Obsessive licking of one dog by another dog can mean several different things, and not all of them are bad. However, sometimes this over-licking can lead to problems, so let’s take a look at the possible reasons why this woman’s dog is licking her other dog’s genitals so much.
- Grooming – Many dog lick and lick and lick at different parts of their buddy’s body in an effort to keep things clean. It’s perfectly normal and signals a close bond between the dogs. It’s not uncommon to see one dog with their snout buried in another dog’s ear, just licking away. While it’s less common for this perpetual licking to take place on the genital area, it does happen.
- Habit – Obsessive licking can also be the result of habit. Dogs can get into routines and just stay there. So whether it’s the ear, a paw, or genitals, it could just be the other dog getting into a habit of this behavior.
- Possible Health Issue – Dogs have the uncanny ability to detect infection and other problems well before a human can. The dog could be excessively licking the other dog’s genitals because he detects a brewing issue like infection.
The very first thing to do is to decide if the behavior is out of the ordinary. If this is something that’s been going on for some time with no detectable health issues involved, there’s probably nothing to worry about. However, if the obsessive licking is a new development, it’s important to take the dog to the vet, as it could mean that there is a problem brewing. Problems could range from an infection in the prepuce or skin surrounding the area to a tumor on the penis. The main thing to remember is that if something new is happening, a vet should check it out.
Problems Associated with Obsessive Licking
I feel it’s important to point out that even when no health issues are causing one dog to be overly aggressive with their grooming action, that grooming can actually lead to issues. The constant friction from the tongue and moisture from saliva can lead to issues in the area where the other dog is obsessively licking. Let’s take a look at what can happen when one dog is too free with the grooming.
If one dog is obsessively licking another dog’s ear, it can lead to ear infection over time. The constant licking keeps the ear canal moist, which makes it an easy breeding ground for bacteria. It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s ear if another dog is obsessively licking it.
Hot spot can occur when one area of the skin is frequently licked over time. The constant moisture on friction caused by the perpetual licking can break down the skin over time, forming microscopic abrasions. These abrasions allow bacteria in the skin which can cause a localized infection and break down of the skin which we know as hot spots.
Worsening of Infection
If your dog has a pre-existing skin issue like allergic dermatitis or chronic dermatitis, obsessive licking by another dog can worsen the situation dramatically. The friction of the tongue can further break down the skin, while the moisture makes a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria existing in the area.
Obsessive Licking can be Something or Nothing
As cryptic as it sounds, that’s the short of obsessive licking. It can mean a problem is brewing or it can mean nothing more than a real commitment by one dog to keep the other dog clean. Whether your dog is obsessively licking your other dog’s ear, genitals, or some other part of his body, keep a close watch on the area. Even if there are no problems, all that looking could create one. And remember, if you suspect anything is out of the ordinary, see your vet immediately.