Tips to Manage Excessive Pet Licking [Lick-free Living]

Are you bothered by your furry friend’s constant slobbery affection? Excessive pet licking can be both endearing and annoying! In this article, we’ll help you understand why your pets lick excessively and provide you with practical tips to tackle this persistent behaviour.

And just in case you think it is only dogs, we have had cats at a few house sits take a shine to us, as in a licking frenzy.

Excessive Pet Licking

Understanding Excessive Pet Licking

Pet owners appreciate their furry friends’ affectionate licks, but excessive licking can indicate underlying issues. Understanding the causes of pet licking is crucial for protecting their wellbeing and fostering positive bonds. Factors include natural urges and stress-related behaviours. Excessive licking in pets is rooted in natural instincts and can be triggered by stress and anxiety. It can also have negative effects on your pet’s health.

Why Do Pets Lick Excessively?

Instinctual behaviour: Like mothers groom their young and show love, pets use licking as a means of communication to show affection and strengthen social ties.

Stress and anxiety trigger: Excessive licking in pets can be a sign of stress or anxiety, adjusting to environmental changes, separation anxiety, or meeting new people.

The Impact of Excessive Pet Licking

Skin irritations and allergies: Frequent licking in pets encourages the growth of germs and yeast as well as causes skin irritations, hot spots (red, inflamed skin), and hair loss.

Eating or drinking harmful substances: Pets may unknowingly eat or drink harmful substances during licking sessions, posing health risks.

Identifying Excessive Pet Licking

Observing patterns and understanding the underlying causes of behaviours, such as boredom or anxiety, will help identify why your pet is excessively licking. First, you have to determine if a pet’s licking habit is normal or excessive, and consider seeking professional help when necessary.

Normal vs Excessive Pet licking

Observing patterns of licking behaviour: Normal licking is sporadic and occurs in specific situations, while excessive licking is persistent and obsessive. Pay attention if your pet consistently licks themselves, objects, or you.

When to seek professional help: Seek professional advice for excessive licking, hair loss, skin redness, and appetite changes to rule out health issues and manage behaviour.

Identifying Underlying Causes:

Boredom and lack of stimulation: You may not realize this, but pets can become bored when they lack stimulation, which in turn can lead to excessive licking.

Attention-seeking behaviour: Pets thrive on interaction with humans, so their behaviour may be a response to insufficient attention, intensifying if a reaction is noticed.


Training to Curb Excessive Pet Licking

Improve pet licking with positive reinforcement and redirection techniques for a manageable experience. By rewarding desired behaviour, discouraging bad behaviour, and encouraging repetition, positive reinforcement successfully reduces pet licking. This also encourages family harmony and hygiene.

Positive Reinforcement for Modification

Catch them in the act: Watch pets closely and reward them for decreased licking or non-licking behaviours using timing and effectiveness. Use treats and praise for positive reinforcement. Be persistent and patient, because consistency is essential.

Avoid punishment: Avoid scolding or punishing your pet, as it can lead to fear and anxiety. Redirect their attention to acceptable activities. Seek professional guidance if challenges arise.

Redirecting Licking Behaviour

Interactive toys and puzzles: Introduce interactive toys and puzzles to engage pets, redirecting their focus and capturing their attention.

Regular playtime: Increase pet playtime with enjoyable games.

Chews and bones: Give your pet safe and suitable chew toys or bones so they can be comforted.

Praise for non-licking behaviours: Give praise and affection to reward positive behaviour, strengthening associations with alternatives.

Create lick-free zones: Set aside specific times or locations as “lick-free zones.” For instance, if your pet has a tendency to lick the couch excessively, place a comfortable pet bed nearby and encourage them to sleep there instead. You must be consistent, though.

Distract in stressful situations: Distract your pet from excessive licking by offering interactive play and soothing activities, focusing on stress sources, and providing alternatives.


Creating a Lick-Free Environment

To reduce excessive licking and encourage better habits, make your pet’s environment lick-free.It’s essential to maintain good hygiene to keep your pet’s environment lick-free and prevent infections and skin irritations. Deterrents can be used to help pets avoid creating unpleasant associations and redirecting behaviour.

Maintaining Good Hygiene Practices

Regular grooming routines: Establish a regular grooming schedule for your pet to eliminate loose hair.

Keep pets’ living areas clean: Clean their living areas regularly to reduce dirt and bacteria, using pet-safe products.

Paw care: Pets explore through their paws, attracting dirt and debris; wipe after walks to prevent harmful substances from entering.

Monitor skin and coat health: Regularly check your pet’s skin and coat for itchiness, redness, and hot patches; treat if necessary.

Bathing practices: Veterinarians do recommend bathing, but don’t overdo it as bathing can cause dryness and itching.

Grooming and hygiene products: Choose animal-specific grooming and hygiene supplies and avoid human items which may contain harmful ingredients and cause excessive pet licking.

Deterrents to Prevent Excessive Pet Licking

Bitter sprays: Try bitter sprays that are safe for cords or furniture edges; they will deter pets because of the bad taste.

Anti-lick collars: Anti-lick collars prevent pets from licking wounds or irritated skin, creating a physical barrier for healing without interference.

E-Collars (Elizabethan Collars): E-collars or cone collars, prevent licking of wounds by fitting around pet’s neck, preventing contact with the mouth.

Physical barriers: Create physical barriers, like baby gates or unpleasant textures on objects.


Promoting Well-being to Reduce Licking

Stress can cause pets to lick themselves excessively as a coping mechanism. Stress management can help prevent slobbering and encourage calm. Happier pets are those who are mentally and physically active.

Stress Reduction Techniques for Pets

Safe and calm space: Pets need a safe place where they can retreat when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This space should be quiet, comfortable, and filled with familiar toys or their favourite blanket.

Calming music or white noise: Playing soothing music or white noise can have a calming effect on pets. This can drown out external noises and create a peaceful atmosphere.

Calming exercises and massage: Gentle exercises and massage can help relax your pet’s muscles, promote a sense of calm, ease tension, and create a bonding experience.

Consistent routine: Like kids, pets need routine and predictability. Keep a regular schedule for eating, playing, and sleeping each day.

Pheromone diffusers: Pheromone diffusers, such as Feliway or cats or Adaptil for dogs, release synthetic calming pheromones that mimic the natural scents produced by mother animals.

Reduce triggers: Whether it is loud noises, changes in routine, or new people or pets, lessening exposure to stressors can greatly impact their overall well-being.

Ensuring Sufficient Physical and Mental Stimulation

Daily exercise: Take them for daily walks or runs, play fetch, or dangle toys to burn off excess energy and prevent boredom.

Enhanced activities: Provide interactive entertainment, climbing structures, hidden treats, and new toys to stimulate pets’ minds.

Training sessions: Engage in short training sessions to teach pets tricks and commands, strengthening bonding and mind activity.

Playdates and socialization: Social activities with other animals can provide mental stimulation and enhance your pet’s overall well-being.


Seeking Professional Help if Needed

Determine whether your pet requires professional assistance to reduce excessive licking. Some situations can be managed with positive reinforcement and environmental modifications, but expert advice from a veterinarian or animal behaviourist can offer specific answers and insights. Excessive licking may require medication and medical interventions to address underlying causes and alleviate pet discomfort. Alternative products such as CBD can also be used depending on the doctor or the area you live in (check for legality).

Consulting a Veterinarian or Behaviourist

Rule out medical conditions: Consult a veterinarian so they can conduct thorough examinations to rule this out.

Customized solutions: An animal behaviourist can assess your pet’s behaviour and create tailored plans to address specific needs and provide practical solutions.

Addressing anxiety and stress: Animal behaviourists identify stress and anxiety triggers in pets, helping to reduce them and create a calming environment.

Medication, if necessary: Veterinarians can prescribe medication to manage excessive licking and associated anxiety.

Ongoing support: Professional support, guidance, and monitoring of pet behaviour modification provide ongoing well-being.

Patience and understanding: Be patient and understanding. A professional can help navigate challenges and ensure a lick-free life.

Medication and Medical Interventions

Veterinary assessment: Before considering medication, it is wise to have your pet checked.

Anti-anxiety medications: Veterinarians can prescribe anti-anxiety medications to reduce stress-related behaviours.

Allergy management: If allergies are the cause,  your veterinarian may recommend allergy management strategies such as dietary changes, medication, and environmental adjustments.

Behavioral medications: If pets have severe behavioral issues, your veterinarian or behaviorist may suggest medications.

Medical procedures: In some instances, medical or surgical procedures may be necessary.

Monitoring and adjustments: If medication is prescribed, work closely with your veterinarian to adjust the treatment plan as needed for the best results.



Patience, understanding, and creativity are necessary for managing pet licking. To establish a lick-free atmosphere, use positive reinforcement, redirect behaviour, encourage wellbeing, and get expert advice from either a vet or behaviourist.

Maintain good hygiene, use deterrents wisely, and provide physical and mental stimulation.

Foster a stronger bond through commitment and love, and enjoy a lick-free life together.

Have you everh had a pet or looked after a pet with an annoying licking behaviour? How did you cope with it? Let us know inthe comments below – sharing is caring.


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I love to travel and my biggest regret is that I waited so long to do it, thinking I just couldn’t afford it. I have had some crazy fun, met some amazing people, and had some scary moments such as getting locked in a shower at a campsite. For our trip to Mexico, we were able to save money by house sitting, which was something completely new to us. If this is something that interests you, then check out TrustedHousesitters or HouseSitMexico (be sure and use Code thetr6210d47b7cc90). We hope you visit often.

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