It’s a known fact that dogs are big lickers. They use their tongue to identify and distinguish the things that they like, including their food, your face, and the floor.
We like to believe that a dog is giving us a kiss when they lick our face, hands, or feet. But while an occasional lick can be relatively charming, excessive or compulsive licking can become concerning. So why would a dog lick the floor after eating?
Truthfully, there isn’t one specific answer as to why dogs lick the floor after eating. Other than tasting food remaining on the floor from their meal, three main factors could cause such intense behavior; Excessive Licking Syndrome, behavioral issues, or neurological concerns.
Let’s look at why dogs lick the floor after eating, and what you may be able to do to manage the situation.
Why Would A Dog Lick The Floor After Eating?
The most obvious reason a dog would lick the floor after eating is to savor any food residue or overspill from the meal they just consumed. A dog still in “eating mode” might still smell the meal and forage for remnants.
And most dogs will lick anything they can get their tongue on. It’s similar to people touching things to investigate. Just as we may pick up a book to glance at the cover, and a dog may lick an area of the floor to see what was recently there.
But we’re guessing that you wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t already ruled out leftover food bits as the motivation for your dog’s licking. And while a dog cleaning up after a satisfying meal is normal and generally acceptable to us, a dog licking obsessively for long periods of time is not.
What Is Excessive Licking Syndrome?
Excessive Licking Syndrome (ELS) refers to your dog’s compulsive licking of surfaces around them for an unnecessary amount of time.
Overall, ELS can greatly impact the mental and physical wellbeing of your dog. Many dogs with this condition are found to have an underlying gastrointestinal condition.
The Symptoms And Consequences Of ELS
Below, we have listed some of the most obvious signs of ELS that you need to look out for in your dog. We have also outlined some physical consequences of your pet exhibiting such behavior.
- Uncontrollable licking of your face, the furniture, their paws, other animals, or the floor.
- Prolonged licking allows your dog to explore or investigate the object of their desire for longer periods.
- Licking that may increase in intensity and frequency over time.
- Nibbling at their skin, which is often accompanied by excessive licking.
- Mouth and/or tongue irritation.
- Open wounds that may become prone to infection.
- Ingesting fibers from carpets and mats.
How To Stop This Behavior
There are several ways to work around issues caused by your dog’s excessive licking. You could:
- Be more careful about leaving spillages or crumbs on the floor.
- Take your dog for regular maintenance checks with a trusted veterinarian. If something is wrong, they have the capabilities to assess and professionally diagnose your dog. Treatment can then begin immediately.
- Pay attention to your dog so that they don’t feel the need to begin their obsessive behavior.
- Try to distract your dog by putting your arm out as a physical barrier to stop your dog. You could even chastise them or move them away from the area. To achieve more thorough results, you could use food or a treat as an incentive to stop the behavior.
If the behavior stops after you’ve tried any of these methods, you can safely assume that your dog’s compulsive floor licking after eating is largely due to a behavioral issue.
Though if your dog has a serious medical illness, it will most likely be much more difficult to distract or interrupt their actions. However, this is not a foolproof method of diagnosing your pet or preventing this behavior.
Some dogs who start licking surfaces excessively will not stop with just the floor. Instead, you can expect to find them licking their belongings such as their bed, or even their paw.
As we mentioned, a lot of this behavior can be traced to an underlying gastrointestinal issue which, if treated either with a specialized diet or medication, can greatly reduce their ELS behavior.
This syndrome may not be caused solely by behavioral issues, so it is a good idea to identify and rule out any underlying medical conditions, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Liver Failure
- Cushing’s Disease
Your dog’s excessive licking may also come as a result of nutritional deficiency! By treating these issues as quickly as possible, you can help to resolve any illnesses and consequently will reduce the ELS behavior in most dogs.
This is why the first step you should take when attempting to stop your dog from licking the floor is to seek the professional advice of a veterinarian.
They can rule out any possible health problems or can help your pet resolve these issues and get back to their normal, happy selves.
Dogs and people with brain-based disorders show many similar behaviors. They share brain abnormalities that will typically respond to the same medications.
Therefore, obsessive behavior in dogs such as excessive licking could be a sign of obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD). However, apart from licking the floor, canines with such neurological problems may also suffer from physical effects such as lower energy levels and weight loss.
There’s a mistaken belief that OCD in dogs is more of a behavioral concern. This is partially true because while there are behavioral components to the condition, it has more to do with genetics and neurological composition.
Thankfully, diagnosing and treating canine compulsive disorder (CCD) is within your vet’s domain! So, you can rest assured that your pet will receive the highest level of care and treatment possible.
This includes behavioral and desensitization training to help prevent such behaviors from reoccurring.
Obsessive floor licking after your pet eats can also result in excessive attention-seeking behaviors. They may also feel too overwhelmed to do anything else.
Much like us, dogs can be very emotional creatures. The strange notion of licking the floor directly after having eaten food may be due to a compulsive disorder that, in turn, could cause them to experience emotions on an extreme scale.
A repeated action such as repeatedly licking a surface may also provide them with feelings of extreme calmness. Other behavioral reasons include:
- Social Anxiety: Dogs are very co-dependent. If they are left alone for long periods, they will begin to discover soothing motions to help calm them down. One of these may be to lick the floor.
- Boredom: Although dogs can be quite excitable, they can become bored very quickly.
- Stress: Dogs can take on stress, resulting in excessive panting, heavy breathing, restlessness, and physically destructive behavior.
Thankfully, it can be relatively easy to take care of the emotional side, especially anxiousness and boredom. All you need to do is provide your dog with extra attention.
Whether you choose to take them on daily walks or purchase a new toy, just showering them with all the love you can help to increase feelings of safety and security. Overall, this should lessen their anxiety, decreasing their obsessive-compulsive behavior as a result.
There are many reasons why your dog may lick the floor after eating. If they are suffering from stomach or intestinal issues, licking the floor may become a soothing motion that helps to lessen the pain or discomfort they may be feeling.
If you notice that your beloved pet is experiencing this, it might be best to take them to a veterinarian. However, if your dog isn’t experiencing a gastrointestinal disorder, they may simply be experiencing intense anxiety, which can be fixed by lots of love and TLC.