When it comes to dogs, licking is just part of their natural behavior. They lick for a number of different purposes, including grooming themselves or showing affection to their pet parents. However, one particular phenomenon is seen in canines that pet parents sometimes get curious or concerned about: they lick the floor after eating.
But why is that? Why does your dog lick the floor after eating?
There are multiple causes of this floor licking behavior occurring after a dog has eaten. The main reason your dog may lick the floor after eating is to pick up any food crumbs that may have been scattered or left on the floor. Other causes can include it simply being an undesired behavior lingering from puppyhood, nutritional deficiencies, a dirty floor, or boredom. If your floor is clean and your dog starts licking it excessively, this may also indicate anxiety along with gastrointestinal, behavioral, or neurological issues.
Any time your dog continues to act differently or exhibits a change in behavior (such as licking the floor excessively), it is a good idea to take them to the veterinarian for a check-up to make sure everything is in order. Things like excessive licking may not appear to be a huge concern, but they can actually be a sign of your dog having or developing a significant medical condition, especially if the habit appears out of nowhere.
Here are some of the possible reasons your dog may be licking the floor after eating, aside from simply licking up any spilled food.
1. Behavioral Issues or Bad Habits from Puppyhood
Your dog may engage in excessive licking of the floor after eating due to it having a bad habit it picked up during puppyhood. This undesired behavior may develop in your dog if it’s currently a puppy and you allow it to continue repeating the excessive licking all the time. Some puppies may lick the floor out of nowhere just to pass the time, so the best way to eliminate the unwanted behavior is to train your dog and engage your dog in some distracting activity.
Dogs are very sociable creatures who like spending time with their owners and other pack members.
When a dog licks the floor repeatedly, especially after eating, it may be a sign of stress or anxiety. Floor licking can be used as a coping mechanism to relieve stress and burn off nervous energy.
If you think your dog may be dealing with anxiety, it’s critical to pay close attention to what might be causing them to become so uncomfortable. This could be anything from something as simple as you going to work to something like guests staying in your home or a significant change in your circumstances.
Identifying what causes them stress allows you to develop solutions for them as well. For example, if your dog becomes concerned as you are about to leave home, they are likely suffering from separation anxiety. In this case, you’d have to convince them that your departure is nothing to be concerned about, which is often easier said than done. You can also desensitize your dog to the actions that they identify with your impending departure, such as opening the front door and picking up your keys.
If it seems like there is anything in particular that is causing them to lick the floor excessively out of stress and anxiety, you can try to remove that stress trigger and see if the behavior improves.
3. Dirty Floors
At the very least, you should keep clean floors in your home and try to be aware of when your dog is licking up a spill. Check to be sure your dog is simply picking up food or drink that was spilled on the ground, rather than getting into something more precarious they may find on the floor, just to be on the safe side!
If the floor tastes like a reward, your dog will almost certainly start licking it right away, so this cause shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
4. Nutritional Deficiencies
When dogs are malnourished, they may behave similarly to people who eat improper foods and don’t maintain a balanced diet to meet their health needs. In this situation, your dog would be licking the floor instead of eating something that’d be the equivalent of us humans eating junk food. They are unconsciously attempting to obtain the nutrients in which they are deficient.
Bringing your dog’s actual food or a photo of the food’s ingredients and nutritional information to your veterinarian is an excellent approach to find out if their meals are meeting their dietary needs. Your vet can tell you if the food has everything your dog requires to flourish or if it lacks some essential nutrients that your dog may need based on its breed, size, and overall condition of health.
If your dog’s licking problem is due to a lack of proper nourishment, a simple change in its food should be sufficient to put an end to their habit of licking the floor.
Consider how much activity your dog receives on a daily basis. Are you exercising them sufficiently, or are they becoming bored because they have no means of expending their energy during the day?
Obsessive licking after eating is one of many negative behaviors that may develop in a bored dog for them to relieve stress and release some of that pent-up energy.
If you are unsure of how much exercise your dog needs, you should research their unique breed for some advice on what would work best for them. If your dog is mixed or a mutt, you can also try asking your vet’s opinion on what they think it may be and how you should address their need for exercise.
Additionally, almost all dogs should be taken for daily walks. However, the length of the walks may vary depending on the breed and the dog’s age. They should also have plenty of toys to play with in the home.
6. Dog Neurological Disorders
Your dog may be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder—often known as just “OCD”—if they constantly lick a specific region of the floor even if you’re sure that the area has been well cleaned of anything that would taste pleasant to them. Even though many people believe that OCD is a behavioral disorder and that dogs who exhibit this behavior just need more mental stimulation, it is actually a neurological disorder that will most likely require medicine to treat, which is just another reason to take your pup to the veterinarian if he is obsessively licking the floor.
7. Abnormalities of the Gastrointestinal Tract
The most likely reason for your dog’s excessive licking may not be immediately apparent, but digestive issues are strongly associated with excessive licking after eating. Excessive licking is caused by a variety of gastrointestinal disorders in dogs.
It is estimated that dogs with excessive licking issues have more than a 60% likelihood of developing a gastrointestinal disorder.
According to dog experts, if your dog is easily diverted away from its floor licking habit, there is a behavioral component to the problem at hand. However, if you cannot distract your dog from its incessant licking or if your pup instantly returns right back to it, the risks of your dog dealing with a medical ailment are far higher than normal.
The majority of dogs with excessive licking behaviors suffer from gastrointestinal system disorders such as ulcers, pancreatitis, liver illness, and other conditions. In addition to those, diseased teeth, adrenal infection, and intestinal parasites are also possible causes.
Why does my senior dog suddenly start licking the floor after eating?
The same reasons mentioned above also apply to senior dogs. However, the development of these repetitive actions in old dogs can be hazardous since they are more prone to diseases and stress-related issues than younger dogs.
It is absolutely mandatory to consult with your veterinarian if your senior dog begins licking the floor all of a sudden after eating.
Is excessive licking in dogs a sign of pain?
Excessive licking in dogs may indicate pain and discomfort. Usually, excessive licking occurs alongside severe health issues such as ulcers, dental infections, throat troubles, and others. If you cannot distract your dog’s attention away from licking for an extended period of time (or at all), it is recommended that you take them to the veterinarian for a check-up and potential treatment.
What can I do if my dog licks the floor?
If your dog simply licks the floor as part of its normal activities and daily routine, you probably won’t have to worry about doing anything about it. As long as they are not consuming something that they shouldn’t be and their health is not compromised, their immune system should give adequate protection.
If your dog is licking the floor due to stress, anxiety, or a potential underlying health concern, you should take them to the veterinarian right away. An evaluation should rule out the possibility of a medical problem and determine whether it is simply a behavioral concern. If the problem is behavioral, it is recommended that you consult with a dog trainer or dog behavior specialist for assistance. They would be able to assist you in establishing the proper routine for your dog to help lessen this frequency of the habit if it has become problematic.
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.