Why Do Dogs Lick Pillows and Blankets?

If you’re a dog owner, you may have noticed your furry friend engaging in some peculiar behaviors. One such behavior is licking pillows and blankets. While it may seem strange to us, there are several reasons why dogs exhibit this licking behavior. In this article, we will explore the possible explanations behind this curious habit.

1. Comfort and security: Dogs often find comfort in the scent and texture of their owners’ pillows and blankets. Licking these items may help them feel closer to their human companions, providing a sense of security and familiarity.

2. Grooming behavior: Licking is a natural grooming behavior for dogs. Just like they lick themselves to keep clean, they may extend this behavior to pillows and blankets. It could be their way of maintaining cleanliness or removing any stray scents.

3. Marking territory: Dogs have scent glands in their mouths, and licking can be a way of marking their territory. By leaving their scent on pillows and blankets, they are claiming ownership and signaling to other animals that these items belong to them.

4. Teething and exploration: Puppies, in particular, may lick pillows and blankets as part of their teething process. The softness of these items can provide relief to their sore gums. Additionally, dogs use their mouths as a way to explore the world, and licking objects is a common behavior associated with this exploration.

5. Anxiety and stress relief: Dogs may lick pillows and blankets as a coping mechanism when they are feeling anxious or stressed. The repetitive motion can have a calming effect on them, similar to how humans may engage in certain behaviors to self-soothe.

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6. Seeking attention or affection: Dogs are social animals and may lick pillows and blankets to get attention or express affection. They may have learned that licking these items results in a response from their owners, such as petting or cuddling.

7. Nutrient deficiency: In some cases, excessive licking of pillows and blankets may indicate a nutrient deficiency. If your dog is obsessively licking these items or engaging in other abnormal behaviors, it is essential to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

8. Boredom or lack of stimulation: Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom. Licking pillows and blankets can be a way for them to relieve boredom or entertain themselves when they are not receiving adequate attention or exercise.

9. Habitual behavior: Dogs are creatures of habit, and if they have developed a habit of licking pillows and blankets, they may continue to do so even when it no longer serves a specific purpose. Breaking this habit may require redirection and providing them with alternative activities.

10. Scent attraction: Dogs have an exceptional sense of smell, and pillows and blankets carry the scent of their owners. Your dog may be drawn to these items due to the familiar scent, which brings them comfort and a sense of closeness.

11. Enjoyment and sensory pleasure: Finally, dogs simply enjoy licking. It releases endorphins and can be a pleasurable sensory experience for them. The soft texture and taste of pillows and blankets may provide them with a tactile satisfaction.

FAQs about Dogs Licking Pillows and Blankets:

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1. Is it harmful for dogs to lick pillows and blankets?
Generally, it is not harmful unless the items contain toxic substances. Ensure your dog has access to safe and clean items to lick.

2. Should I discourage this behavior?
If the licking becomes excessive or problematic, it may be necessary to redirect your dog’s attention or seek professional guidance.

3. Can this behavior be a sign of anxiety?
Yes, excessive licking of pillows and blankets can be a sign of anxiety or stress. Observe your dog’s overall behavior for further signs.

4. How can I prevent my dog from licking pillows and blankets?
Providing alternative chew toys, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and addressing any underlying anxiety can help redirect this behavior.

5. Is it normal for puppies to lick pillows and blankets more often?
Yes, puppies explore the world through their mouths and may lick pillows and blankets more frequently. Ensure the items are safe for them to lick.

6. Should I let my dog continue this behavior?
If it doesn’t cause any harm or distress, and you’re comfortable with it, there’s no need to stop the behavior. However, excessive licking may require intervention.

7. Can dogs get sick from licking pillows and blankets?
If the items are clean and free from toxic substances, dogs are unlikely to get sick. Regularly wash and disinfect these items to maintain hygiene.

8. Should I discourage my dog from licking my pillows and blankets?
If you find the behavior unpleasant or unhygienic, you can discourage it by redirecting your dog’s attention and providing them with appropriate alternatives.

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9. Can this behavior be a sign of a medical issue?
Excessive licking can sometimes indicate medical issues or allergies. Consult a veterinarian if you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms.

10. Can I train my dog to stop licking pillows and blankets?
With consistent training and redirection, it is possible to train your dog to engage in alternative behaviors instead of licking pillows and blankets.

11. Are certain dog breeds more prone to this behavior?
Certain breeds, such as retrievers and spaniels, may be more prone to this behavior due to their natural instinct to retrieve and carry objects in their mouths.

While dogs licking pillows and blankets may seem strange to us, it can be a normal and harmless behavior. Understanding the various reasons behind this habit can help us better comprehend our furry friends’ needs and behaviors. If you have any concerns about your dog’s licking behavior, consulting a veterinarian is always a wise choice to ensure their well-being.