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11 Real Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Toys (#3 Is Weird)

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Toys

You gave your dog some toys to play with…

But they’re licking them like it’s the last meal they’ll ever get.

Do they really like the toys that much?

Or is something going on?

Read and discover:

  • 11 reasons why dogs lick their toys.
  • Preventive ways on how to deal with it.
  • Underlying medical issues in dogs that cause licking.
  • Other signs of clinical concerns that accompany this behavior.
  • And many more…

Why do dogs lick their toys?

Dog lick their toys because they like the taste. Other reasons include nausea, boredom, thirst, wanting to explore or relax. It could also be due to underlying medical issues such as canine compulsive disorder (CCD), canine cognitive dysfunction, a.k.a dementia, pica, or mouth problems.

11 reasons why dogs lick their toys

#1: Nausea

Did you know that dogs can feel nauseous too?

PetMD says one of the signs of nausea in dogs is licking. 

A queasy tummy can leave a yucky taste in your Fido’s mouth. So they’ll lick everything in an attempt to spit out to get rid of the bad taste. 

That’s why your Fido’s suddenly interested in licking their toys. 

Nausea in dogs is pretty much the same as nausea in humans. It’s usually diet-related. In such a way that your Fido might be eating too much or too quickly.

It could also be that they ate something spoiled or hard to digest. Or licked something that’s unpleasant for their taste. An example is your cleaning detergent.

Note: There’s no specific breed that’s prone to experience nausea. But older dogs are more susceptible to this than puppies.

Factors that cause nausea in canines include:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Viral infections.
  • Motion sickness.
  • Parasites in the intestines.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.

If your dog has a queasy tummy, aside from licking you may notice:

  • Drooling.
  • Vomiting.
  • Dry heaving.
  • Dehydration.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Excessive chewing.

Can I help my dog’s nausea?

If your Fido’s only been nauseous for a couple of hours, it’ll likely pass by itself.

If they’re vomiting, make sure to have them drink water. 

You can also mix their food with bone broth to calm their tummy. Or, give them bland food such as pumpkin and shredded chicken. 

Remember: Avoid feeding your dog processed meats and spoiled food. Or anything that has been in the fridge for 4 days or more.

You can also keep your Fido from getting nauseous during car rides. Don’t travel after they ate. You should wait at least 2 hours before letting your dog play or exercise after eating. 

When putting your dog in the vehicle, use a dog car seat. Or a travel crate. Another option is to have a harness on your dog. It’ll be connected to the seatbelt. 

All of these suggestions will reduce sudden unwanted movements. By following this advice, you’ll also prevent nausea. 

Don’t forget to also take breaks too so that they can drink water or stretch their legs.

#2: Boredom 

Dogs get bored when they don’t get enough walks or playtime.

Ask yourself and think about the events of your Fido for the day.

Did you provide them physical or mental stimulation? Did you play fetch or walk them at the park?

Bear in mind that not all dogs who are bored would act the same.

Some would sleep for the whole day. But others will show excessive licking behavior. They might switch from their toys to other objects such as furniture, carpet, or your couch.

These other signs would also tell you if your dog’s unstimulated:

  • Pacing.
  • Digging.
  • Barking.
  • Whining.
  • Tail chasing.
  • Destructive chewing.

Note: The signs above can also signal separation anxiety in dogs. 

But don’t worry. You can determine whether it’s due to boredom or distress caused by your absence.

Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell says you can find the cause easily. By recording your Fido when they’re alone. 

You can get a dog camera such as Furbo (compatible with Alexa). Set it up where you’ll have a good overview of the whole room. This will help you keep track of your dog’s behavior. 

Then, observe.

If the toy-licking, whining, and destruction happen within the first 30 minutes after leaving, then it’s separation anxiety. Your dog will start showing the signs while you depart. 

But if none of these happened right after you left or within the first 30 minutes, then they could just be bored. They might sleep, then engage in destructive behaviors after waking up.

Read further: The answer to “Why is my dog suddenly being destructive?” + 7 quick tips

#3: Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD)

Dogs Lick Their Toys When They Have Canine Compulsive Disorder

Your dog’s toy-licking behavior might be a cause of CCD. 

“What does it mean?”

AKC says that your dog has CCD when they do normal behaviors in a repetitive manner.

And it’s hard for them to stop once they’ve started a certain activity.

For example, there’s nothing abnormal about a doggo who licks their toys from time to time. But if they do it for many hours every day, then it’s CCD.

Apart from licking, other CCD behaviors include:

  • Pacing.
  • Tail-chasing.
  • Flank sucking.
  • Staring at shadows.
  • Compulsive spinning.

What dog breeds are more likely to develop CCD?

According to Dr. Jerry Klein, any breed may develop this disorder. But there are some who are more susceptible to such compulsive behaviors.

These breeds include:

  • Belgian Malinois: circling.
  • Doberman Pinschers: flank sucking and licking.
  • Retrievers: licking or pica (eating of non-food objects).
  • Terriers and Shepherds: tail chasing and compulsive spinning.
  • Schnauzers: snapping at invisible flies and checking the hind end.

What are the factors that cause this disorder?

Some factors can encourage compulsive behaviors in dogs, such as:

  • Injury.
  • Abuse. 
  • Illness.
  • Isolation.
  • Lack of socialization.
  • Unpredictable punishment.
  • Frequent aggression from other dogs.

Dr. Summerfield mentions that it’s difficult to distract dogs who engage in CCD behavior. As a result, this can interfere with other activities. Such as playing, eating, and socializing with their parents.

#4: Dementia

Your Fido could be developing dementia. 

Dementia of Canine Cognitive Disorder (CCD) is the doggy version of Alzheimer’s in humans. It affects the dog’s learning and memory. And as a result, their behavior changes.

In what way?

They start acting unusual. And it’s not just excessive licking. There might be other symptoms that you overlooked.

Research shows that 62% of canines between 11-16 years old show signs of dementia. And the percentage increases as they age more.

What does it look like?

Dogs with CCD are confused with their environment. You’ll see them wandering around like they’re lost. They’ll also stare at the ceiling or the floor.

They bark for no reason. And often bump themselves against walls or close doors. 

When it’s time for food, it’ll be a challenge to find their eating bowl on their own. Dr. Denise Petryk says they may also drop something while eating. And then they won’t be able to find it. 

Another sign is that they used to be energetic every playing session with you or other dogs. But now they’ve become less sociable. And are easily irritated.

A change in their sleep pattern is also a sign. They’ll be up all night and more active than during the daytime. You may also hear them howl.

Your senior dog will often pee and defecate inside the house. They may forget now their potty training.

The saddest part of dogs having dementia is that they may fail to recognize you.

How should I care for a dog with dementia?

There are signs of dementia that some parents are mistaken for bad behavior. Examples include barking, howling, being up active at night, and house soiling. 

If your dog shows any of these behaviors, seek help from your vet. Especially when there’s a recent change of behavior. 

Also, something important. Be calm and patient. Your senior dog’s not doing it on purpose. If you scold them, they’ll feel more anxious.

You can also help them by maintaining the layout of your furniture. Switching them to different positions will create a stressful environment for your Fido.

Put their food and water bowls in one place. As well as their bed. Otherwise, it’ll be hard for your dog to remember where to find them.

#5: Pica

Has your Fido ever eaten anything that’s not edible? 

If yes, then your dog might be craving non-food items. So they’d lick everything at sight. And also ingest these objects. Such as their toys.

This condition is called pica. PetMD says some dogs eat only one type of item. But others eat any object within their reach. Including rocks, sticks, and grass. 

Pica can be dangerous, as it can result in dental problems. As well as gastrointestinal blockage, and poisoning. This may even lead to surgery.

Note: This condition is often seen in adolescent and adult canines. But it’s normal for puppies to ingest inedible objects as a part of puppyhood. 

Dr. Karyn Collier says pica may be behavioral or psychological. But it may have an underlying clinical cause. 

What are the common behavioral or psychological reasons? 

These include:

  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Boredom.
  • Lack of socialization.
  • Lack of mental or physical stimulation.

Dr. Collier mentions that pica is also called stress eating. 

Medical causes include:

  • Anemia.
  • Liver disease.
  • Vitamin deficiency.
  • Gastrointestinal parasites.
  • Diabetes or thyroid disease.
  • Malabsorption or maldigestion.

Can I prevent my dog from having this condition?

Yes, there are preventions.

First, it’s important to give your Fido a good-quality diet. RSPCA recommends getting a vet nutritionist that can help you and your dog. 

Make sure that they’re getting enough mental stimulation. As well as physical exercise. 

Give puzzle toys and play fetch with them. Take them for walks. Interacting and playing with others dogs will also go a long way.

#6: Thirst

Thirsty Dog

Did you notice your pooch licking their toys after playing under the sun?

Long walks and playing in hot weather may dehydrate your dog. As a result, they’ll lick to combat a dry throat or tongue. 

This would be the case if you didn’t make them drink in between hours of playing.

So when you go home and still forget to put water into their bowl, they’ll start licking.

Note: Have your pooch drink 2 spoons of water every 10 minutes. Don’t make them drink a lot at once after many hours of playing. Otherwise, they may vomit.

Dehydration can be life-threatening. So make sure that water is accessible to your dog. 

During hot months, give them extra attention. Dogs are more sensitive to heat than us. Look if there are signs of dehydration such as:

  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Thick rope-like saliva.
  • Dry gums and tongue.

Some medical conditions can also cause dehydration, including:

  • Fever.
  • Cancer.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Diabetes.
  • Cushing’s disease.

But sometimes, it’s not the condition itself that causes thirst. But the treatments.

#7: To explore

Puppies lick a lot more than adult dogs.

They’re curious and active. So they use their mouth to inspect the world. It’s the reason why you’ll notice them licking their toys, other objects, and even you. 

They don’t only lick. They also chew objects. This happens when they’re at the teething stage. 

“Is it bad?”

You don’t have to worry because it’s natural for all pups.

They grow their set of baby teeth between 2-3 weeks of age. And then fall out when your pup’s around 4-5 months old. Then adult teeth will start to grow.

The whole process is not painful. But it’s uncomfortable. So they’ll need to relieve it by chewing.

Dr. Kris Bannon says that the best thing fur parents can do is to give chew toys. This will prevent your Fido from chewing inappropriate items. Such as your carpet and furniture.

If they lick their toy, let them be. Your little one is learning at this point.

How would I know if my puppy’s teething?

Other than licking, there are other signs that you should look out for. These include:

  • Whining.
  • Drooling.
  • Swollen gums.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Chewing on everything.

#8: Mouth problems

Your Fido might have something in their mouth that feels strange.

Your dog will lick as a response to pain. They’ll lick the spot that hurts or other objects such as their toys.

Dogs with oral inflammation will often do this behavior. 

But how do oral inflammations occur?

It can happen when your dog ingested something sharp. Such as the awn of the plant. This causes sores if chewed.

Another reason could be gingivitis. It’s caused by bacteria due to the tartar buildup. Dogs with gingivitis will have bleeding gums if it becomes severe.

Warning: Gingivitis is common among canines. But if left untreated, it can lead to teeth loss. They’ll develop bad breath and you’ll see pus oozing when licking.

So give attention to their dental health. Prevent this by brushing their teeth. VCA Animal Hospitals advises that you clean your dog’s teeth twice daily.

Occasional professional teeth cleanings will also help.

#9: Separation anxiety

Does your Fido get upset each time you leave? 

This causes them to lick your belongings and other objects.

Such as your blanket and the couch where you left your scent.

Even their toys or anything within their reach.

Sniffing and licking the objects that have your smell gives them comfort. It’s their way of relieving their stress due to your absence.

“How else would I know if my Fido has separation anxiety?”

ASCPA says they’ll attempt to escape. And may nibble on your clothes before you leave. When they’re alone, they become more anxious.

As a result, they may chew on your couch and furniture. As well as pee and defecate in the house.

Read further: Why Does My Dog All Of A Sudden Have (Separation) Anxiety?

#10: To relax

Did you know that licking has an effect on your dog?

Chemical changes in their body happen. Licking increases endorphins in their brains which makes them calm.

It could be the reason why your Fido likes licking their toys too much. 

If they feel safe doing that, then they’re not being destructive. Nothing biggie. It’s your Fido having fun with their toys.

You’ll even notice their tails wagging.

#11: Your dog likes the taste

Dr. John Bradshaw says that they prefer toys that either taste like food or can be torn apart.

It might be that you gave them flavored toys. Or those that are filled with treats.

These factors make it more enticing for you Fido to lick them.

I have given one flavored toy to my dog. She really enjoys sniffing, licking, and nibbling on it. It’s the EcoVibe Beco Rubber Bone.

I don’t put any treats in it but my Lissa still enjoys it.