Q: For the past two months, my 9-year-old spayed female Westie/Japanese Chin mix has been licking everything in sight, from my legs to the floors, baseboards and various fixtures. I’ve started to call her “Licky.” Could she have a vitamin or other deficiency?
A: Dogs develop a penchant for excessive licking of surfaces (ELS), the clinical term for what Licky is doing, for a few reasons.
According to research, the most common reason by far that dogs lick floors and other unusual surfaces is dysfunction or pain of the stomach or intestines. Fortunately, treating the gastrointestinal problem resolves or significantly reduces the ELS behavior in most dogs.
Alternatively, Licky’s behavior may be due to a compulsive disorder, for example, related to anxiety, or to a nutrient deficiency.
The only way to find out is to take Licky to her veterinarian for an exam and lab work. Submit a fresh fecal sample so your vet can test for intestinal parasites.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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