Have you ever wondered why do Poodles lick so much? It’s no secret that Poodles lick their owners, their paws, or the air a lot. Poodles lick themselves to remove dirt, debris, or irritants from their skin. While most Poodle licking is down to normal causes, there are instances where excessive licking is a symptom that something is wrong.
Unlike their fussy, lap-dog portrayal in popular culture, Poodles are active and highly intelligent animals. Originally bred as working dogs in the region that is now modern Germany, Poodles need a brisk walk or two during the day and puzzle toys, chasing and fetching games, or training sessions to keep their athletic bodies toned and their minds engaged.
If you own a Poodle, you’ve probably experienced Poodle kisses. According to some experts, Poodles often lick their owners to show affection. It’s an instinct learned from birth that creates a pack or human bond. Puppies are more likely to display this behavior since it’s their primary oral way of exploring their world.
Sometimes, Poodles just like the salty taste of your skin or think that you taste good.
You might notice that your dog tends to lick you in the morning. That’s because the skin can taste saltier in the morning after sweating during the night.
If you catch your Poodle licking at your hands, feet, or arms, she’s likely just trying to keep you clean, but if your Poodle is suffering from loneliness or anxiety, he might stay close to you and lick you for comfort. Here’s how to understand your Poodle’s behavior, how to tell if it is normal, and what to do about it if it’s a problem.
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Why Poodles Lick Their Skin and Paws
While it’s normal for a Poodle to want to lick their owner, it can signal a health issue if you notice that your dog is obsessively licking himself.
If you notice your Poodle licking and biting at his skin or paws, check for any irritants such as a thorn that they might have picked up. Irritants can get embedded in the soft pads in a Poodle’s foot. This can cause pain or itching.
If your dog is constantly licking his skin, it’s a good idea to manually inspect your pet for any skin irritants, bites, or signs of infection.
Licking a single area over and over can indicate that your Poodle has an injury or is experiencing joint pain from arthritis.
Licking accompanied by scratching or biting, particularly at the base of the tail, can mean that your Poodle has fleas.
It’s easy to forget to give your dog flea treatments. Without protection, it’s easy to pick up these tiny parasites. Flea bites cause itchy little spots on the skin. Left untreated, a flea infestation can cause your Poodle’s coat to thin or the hair to fall out in bald patches.
Just make sure to give your Poodle a good quality flea treatment on a regular basis to avoid any issues.
When you can’t find any external symptoms, this can indicate an allergy or food reaction. Take your Poodle to the vet to run tests for any issues.
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Notice your Poodle licking his skin too much?
Compared to other dog breeds, Poodles have very sensitive skin.
Lathering its body with saliva can indicate that your Poodle has a dry skin condition. This is likely to occur during the winter months, in an overheated house, or if you live in an arid region.
You might also notice insect bites. These appear like red bumps on your dog’s skin. Biting and licking the areas increases the risk for inflammation and infection.
New licking, breakouts, or reddened skin can indicate an allergic reaction. Check if your dog has had a recent change in food, dog bed, toys, or environment. Pollen, artificial ingredients, chemicals, pesticides sprayed on grass, or household cleaning supplies can cause issues.
Excessive skin licking can cause sores or even hair loss if left unaddressed.
For at-home treatment for bug bites, mix baking soda and water to create a paste. Then pat this mixture onto your dog’s skin and let it dry. This will help relieve pain and itching. You can also get over-the-counter anti-itch ointments from your vet.
You’d be forgiven for not thinking of this tricky skin disease right away when you notice your Poodle licking excessively. Many people have never even heard about it.
Often misdiagnosed as allergies, Sebaceous Adenitis is a hereditary skin condition that creates inflammation in a dog’s sebaceous glands. Poodles tend to have oily skin so a glandular disorder can cause dry, itchy skin and worsening hair loss.
The disease isn’t limited to a certain age range. It can appear anywhere from 1-12 years old. Both male and female Poodles can suffer from it.
If your dog is engaging in obsessive licking behavior, check for these common symptoms of Sebaceous Adenitis:
- Patchy hair loss
- Brittle fur
- White or pale scaly skin
- Fur matted into tufts
- Skin infections or skin lesions
While there’s no cure for this skin disease, there are ways to treat it that will help your Poodle live its fullest life. Bathe your dog frequently. Apply specialized oils and ointments to heal scaly skin and remove dead hair. If your Poodle is diagnosed with Sebaceous Adenitis, ask a specialist to prescribe a good topical treatment system.
Poodles tend to lick people or themselves when they feel bored. If your Poodle is shut up in one room all day, has restricted access to other people, or reduced exercise, you might notice him engaging in excessive licking behavior.
A Poodle who doesn’t have enough physical or mental stimulation from exercise, games, or toys that challenge their brains can start licking themselves, owners, or furniture.
Poodles are high-energy dogs that can get hyper and need to release frequent bursts of energy. If you have a Poodle in the prime of life, around 2-7 years old, he will need 1-2 hours of exercise every day.
Canine licking is also calming behavior. Poodles can use licking to self-soothe if they’re anxious or upset. According to Animal Planet, when a dog licks a human, this causes their brain to release stress-relieving endorphins that boost the dog’s mood and health.
Your Poodle might start licking you to get your attention, to obtain a reward, or to ask you to play. When you respond, this makes your dog feel good and confirms that this kind of behavior works. Licking clothing that smells like you can also help comfort an anxious dog.
Many owners want to discourage their dogs from licking their skin or clothing. You can ignore this behavior and hope that your dog gets the message.
If this doesn’t work, you can act firmer. Stand up, pull away, say “No” clearly, or walk away. To combat a serious licking issue, try spraying a safe and non-toxic bitter spray on your skin. While it won’t harm your dog, the taste will discourage your Poodle from licking at you.
You can distract your Poodle by switching his attention to a favorite toy. Replace your hand or foot with a puzzle toy that holds a treat. Get his attention by saying “No”. Then hand the toy to him and praise him for obeying. This will teach your Poodle to lick toys instead of you.
Over time, firm, kind, and consistent teaching moments will help your dog understand that it’s not acceptable to engage in this kind of licking behavior.
Why Poodles Lick the Air
The most common reasons are to better sense and smell their surroundings, as well as to communicate they are feeling nervous or overwhelmed.
We also see lip licking and air licking when a dog is nauseous.
If you notice your Poodle licking the air, check them right away.
This can indicate that something is stuck in your dog’s mouth or throat. Acid reflux issues can also cause burning and discomfort in your Poodle’s esophagus. Symptoms of acid reflux or other gastrointestinal disorders to watch out for include:
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Stomach pain
Licking the air is also a warning sign of a partial seizure. Symptoms of neurological disease or a partial seizure include:
- Stiffening body
- Foaming at the mouth
- Jerky movements
- Twitching uncontrollably
If you notice your Poodle excessively licking the air, call your veterinarian and ask for advice. It’s likely that your vet will ask you a couple of questions. If all signs point to acid reflux or a seizure, they will most likely book you an appointment right away to check what is going on with your pet.
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Marko is the founder and author at PoodleHQ, where he leverages his expertise and passion. With three generations of poodles under his care, Marko is a lifelong enthusiast of the breed and all animals, bringing his love and appreciation to his work every day.