Most dog owners have come home to find their bed sheets all slobbery from their dog’s drool. However, this does not mean that most dog owners like to find their dog licking their bed, and being grossed out by this strange habit is not unusual. As a result, many dog owners have likely asked themselves at some time or another: why do dogs lick sheets?
Dogs lick sheets because the fabric smells like their owner, and is comforting to them. Occasionally, licking sheets can also be a sign of medical problems and conditions such as a dietary imbalance or canine OCD.
In this article, we will be describing all of the reasons why dogs lick sheets and how you can discover which reason is causing your dog to lick. In addition to this, we will be answering some commonly asked questions about this topic and providing you with some additional things to consider about dogs licking sheets as well.
Reasons Dogs Lick Sheets
There are five main reasons why dogs lick sheets. The most common reason behind dogs licking bed sheets is that sheets often smell like a person the dog loves, and licking items that smell like members of their family is very comforting for dogs.
However, this habit can also be a sign of several health conditions such as canine OCD and anxiety. Here are the five reasons dogs lick sheets.
Your Sheets Smell Like You
Dogs usually love the smell of their owner, and this is the most common reason why you will find your dog licking your sheets. Just like licking you, licking your sheets can be very comforting to a dog, especially when you are away from the
. As a result, dogs also tend to lick things like pillows, furniture, and clothing for the same reason.
In extreme cases, licking sheets and other types of fabric can be a sign of separation anxiety. However, your dog does not have to be affected by separation anxiety to lick sheets. Other symptoms of separation anxiety also need to be present for your dog to be diagnosed with the condition.
Your Dog Is Stressed Or Anxious
Stress and anxiety can lead dogs to soothe themselves through obsessive behaviors, and obsessively licking your bed sheets can be the result. This is likely the cause if you have found your dog retreating to your bedroom to lick your sheets during stressful times.
In addition to this, licking sheets can also be a symptom of separation anxiety when you are away. This is especially true if this is paired with some other symptoms of separation anxiety and if your dog engages in this activity exclusively when left home alone. Some other common symptoms of separation anxiety to look out for include:
● Other obsessive behaviors such as pacing and scratching
● Destructive behaviors such as chewing and digging
● Having accidents (and eating it in some cases)
● Excessive barking or howling
● Attempting to escape a crate, room, house, or yard
Your Dog Could Have A Dietary Imbalance
Having a dietary imbalance is a more common cause of excessive licking than some may believe. This condition can also cause pica and excessive licking, which is the urge to eat inedible objects.
Although this usually causes dogs to eat things like dirt and feces, pica can also cause a dog to want to eat fabric and other types of objects.
Just like people, dogs need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, and dog foods with filler ingredients like corn and wheat could lead to malnutrition in dogs.
Luckily usually, malnutrition in dogs can be detected by having more symptoms than just pica present. Some common symptoms of canine malnutrition to look out for include:
● A dull coat
● Hair loss
● Skin conditions and infections
● Signs of canine depression
● Abnormal bowel movements
Obsessive Licking Could Be A Sign Of Canine OCD
Canine Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by a dog frequently engaging in obsessive behaviors, and obsessive licking is relatively common among dogs with canine OCD.
This is a genetically inherited disease, and certain dog breeds are more at risk for having OCD than others as a result.
Some dogs that are technically more likely to develop canine OCD include Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Schnauzers, and Doberman Pinschers. However, any dog could develop this mental condition. Some common signs to look out for in addition to excessive licking include:
● Excessive pacing and tail-chasing
● Eating and drinking excessively
● Being fixated on and chasing lights and shadows
● Excessive itching
● Excessive grooming
● Licking and snapping at the air (with nothing there)
Obsessive Licking Could Also Be A Sign Of Pain
Licking is a highly soothing behavior for dogs, and licking objects that smell like a dog’s owner is even more so.
As a result, some dogs turn to lick their owner’s belongings excessively when they are in pain. Some common signs of pain in dogs that you should look out for in addition to excessive licking include but may not be limited to:
● Excessive panting
● Increased breathing and heart rates
● Whining, whimpering, and yelping
● Shaking and trembling
● Appearing restless
● Reduced or no appetite
● Limping or struggling to walk
Your Dog Could Have Allergies
Excessive licking can also be a sign that your dog has some allergies. It is also very common for dogs with allergies to lick their paws, and this can sometimes appear like they are just licking whatever they are laying on. Some other common signs of allergies in dogs include:
● Runny nose and eyes
● Ear infections (often recurring)
● Skin irritation, rashes, and swelling
● Vomiting and diarrhea
Is It Normal For Dogs To Lick Sheets
It is normal for dogs to lick sheets. As long as your dog hasn’t shown any signs of canine OCD, extreme anxiety, or a dietary imbalance, then it is pretty normal for dogs to lick sheets.
It is a more common behavior in dogs than many pet owners may think. Many normal things can trigger licking in dogs, including allergies, stress, and even just their owner’s scent.
Although it may be a bit gross and bothersome, licking because of these triggers is usually nothing dog owners should worry about and is an entirely normal behavior in dogs.
Why Does My Dog Lick The Sheets At Night
Sometimes dogs lick their owner’s bed sheets at night because they are a little bit anxious.
This can be especially common in elderly dogs and puppies as they can be more susceptible to getting confused when their owners settle down for bed. The best thing that dog owners can do in a situation like this is to calm their pets before bedtime.
You can do this by having a bedtime routine to make this time of day more predictable. In addition to this, setting up their own space for sleeping and having a white noise machine can help your dog go to sleep on their own, and they will have less access to your bedsheets as well.
Why Does My Dog Lick Fabric
Dogs lick fabric for many different reasons, but usually, it is caused by the fabric smelling like its owner.
Licking something that has a dog’s owner’s scent on it triggers a similar feeling that licking their actual owner does, so this makes the behavior very soothing for dogs. Other things can also cause a dog to lick fabric, however. These include but are not necessarily limited to:
● A dietary imbalance
● Anxiety (including separation anxiety)
● Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
In addition to bedsheets, it is very common for dogs to lick other types of fabric, including their owner’s blankets, pillows, pillowcases, and clothes.
Furniture can commonly be susceptible to being licked by dogs as well. This is especially true for furniture like coaches, chairs, and other things that their owner may spend a lot of time on.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Compulsive Licking
The first thing you should do if your dog is licking compulsively is to take them to the vet. This way, a veterinarian can rule out any potential severe clinical causes of excessive licking, such as pain, a dietary imbalance, and allergies.
They will also provide insight into and diagnose things like canine Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, anxiety (including separation anxiety), and other potential causes such as stress.
After seeing the vet, you can make the necessary changes that the vet suggested if they made any.
This could include medications for pain and mental conditions, changing up their diet, and even seeking help from an animal behaviorist or dog trainer who is qualified to work with dogs with separation anxiety or OCD.
Some other helpful tips are to limit your dog’s access to your bed or bedroom and use anti chewing sprays.
Limiting your dog’s access to your bed prevents them from licking your bedsheets altogether. However, this can be not easy if your dog also licks other objects such as the couch.
This is where anti chewing sprays can be a very useful tool. These sprats are made from edible ingredients that are either very bitter or sour to a dog, which naturally discourages them from licking or chewing items applied with the spray.
To be effective, you must follow your anti chewing spray’s instructions completely. You can purchase anti-chewing sprays online and from most pet stores.
Additional Thoughts On Dogs Licking Sheets
There are some other things that you should consider when it comes to dogs licking your bed sheets and other types of fabric. These include when you should see a vet and when you should seek other types of professional help for this problem.
In addition to this, it is essential to be aware of the dangers of eating fabric for dogs who like to chew and eat the fabric they lick. Here are some other things to consider about dogs licking sheets.
When To See A Vet
Although licking sheets is not always a huge concern, it can be a sign that a dog is in pain. Pain can be a sign of a severe injury or health condition in dogs, so you must visit a vet immediately if you ever suspect that your dog is in pain.
You may also want to visit a vet if your dog has allergies as well. Allergies are not nearly as severe as pain, but a vet can prescribe medications that will make your pet feel better.
When To Seek Other Kinds Of Professional Help
You will likely need to see help from an animal behaviorist and qualified dog trainer along with a vet for OCD and extreme cases of anxiety.
Usually, dogs affected by these conditions are on a treatment plan that includes medication from a vet or animal behaviorist and specialized training from an animal behaviorist or qualified dog trainer.
This usually improves symptoms like excessive licking and improves the dog’s quality of life overall as well.
The Dangers Of Eating Fabric
In addition to licking bed sheets and other kinds of fabric, some dogs may also chew and attempt to eat these things as well. This is especially common for dogs with pica.
Eating fabric can be dangerous and cause an intestinal blockage; however, especially when eaten in large amounts.
Bowel obstructions are severe, and you need to take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect that your dog has a blockage. Some common signs of bowel obstruction in dogs include:
● Signs of abdominal pain
● Signs of dehydration
● Vomiting and diarrhea
● Loss of appetite or no appetite at all