Why Do Dogs Lick Lotion? [EXPLAINED]

Dogs enjoy licking lotions and other topical products off their owner’s skin. They love to get a chance to sample whatever you have applied to your skin after a shower.

Sometimes, dogs lick lotions because they are trying to clean you. 

As with anything, too much of lotion isn’t great for your fur babies. If they continue licking, grab an interactive toy or treat to divert their attention! 

why dog licks lotion
Why Do Dogs Lick Lotion?

Related Reading: Why Dogs Lick Other Dogs’ Privates

Here’s Why Your Dog Might Be Licking Lotion

Enjoys the taste:

Many dogs enjoy the taste of lotion. Many lotions are sweet and their sweetness enticed dogs, who had no awareness that it was dangerous. Some lotions are made with real ingredients like almonds, coconut, aloe vera, or avocado oil. They often lick lotion because it tastes strange and may be appealing to some dogs as well.

Enjoys the smell:

Just as your dog might enjoy the taste, they may enjoy the smell. Dogs have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell. Lotion attracts dogs because they have a smell that is unusual for dogs. Dogs seem especially eager to have a lick if the lotion has a yummy scent like vanilla, peanut butter, or coconut oil. 


Dogs explore the world with their mouth. Dogs will bite, mouth, and lick objects to learn about them. Licking everything is an effort to understand it. It’s not surprising that they would want to give an exploratory lick to lotion and its strange scents. 

Trying to remove the foreign substance:

Dogs are protective of their owners. The smell is a big part of our identity to our pets. When a dog has separation anxiety, you may find that placing an item of clothing you’ve worn in their bed will settle them down. This is because your dog associates you with your scent.

Perhaps dogs are smart enough and have sensitive enough noses to recognize there’s a new scent on top of your scent. They may still want to remove the lotion. They love your familiar scent, and another scent can be disquieting.

Just licking:

If your dog is a regular locker, lotion may not be the culprit. Some dogs lick more than others, so if your dog licks you frequently, it may simply be a habit.

Dogs lick to show affection:

This begins when they are born. The mother dog licks the puppies to groom them. The puppies lick their mother when they want milk. It also releases feel-good chemicals in a dog’s brain, similar to human kisses and hugs.

dog licking lotion off of hand

Is It Okay for My Dog to Lick Lotion?

Unfortunately, this cute and harmless habit in dogs can be a cause for concern depending on what you have put on your skin.

The majority of lotions and other cosmetic products contain potentially toxic chemicals.

Moisturizing lotion

Ingestion of large amounts of moisturizing lotions can cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs. These lotions can contain lots of chemicals and compounds that can cause GI upset.

Lotions containing hydrocortisone

These are steroid-based lotion formulations that are used to control itching. If your dog ingests a lotion containing hydrocortisone, it can cause increased thirst, urination, panting, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Lotions containing antibiotics

“Triple-antibiotic” lotions are applied to cuts, scrapes, scratches, and other types of breaks in the skin. If ingested by your dog, they can cause stomach upset.

Antifungal lotions

Antifungal lotions are used to treat athlete’s feet, yeast infections, and nail fungus. They can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested by your dog.

Lotions containing zinc oxide

These lotions are used to treat poison ivy. Zinc oxide can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. If there is bloody vomit or diarrhea, you should call your vet, since it indicates the zinc oxide has damaged your dog’s Gastrointestinal tract, potentially requiring treatment.

Prescription steroid-based lotion 

These are typically prescribed for itchy skin conditions when over-the-counter creams aren’t working. If ingested, these lotions can cause increased thirst and urination, panting, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Anti-inflammatory pain medication creams and lotions 

These compounded lotions are typically prescribed for topical relief of arthritis. Just a tiny ingested amount of Flurbiprofen can lead to kidney failure.

Muscle rub lotions

Many muscle rubs contain aspirin-like compounds. These can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and stomach ulcers. Some muscle rub creams do not contain these types of compounds. However, they may contain other substances of concern, like menthol and capsaicin.

What to Do if My Dog Licks Lotion?

If your dog licked regular lotion, they should be fine. Just monitor them for the next few hours to be on the safe side. 

If you suspect your dog may have ingested or come in contact with a potentially harmful topical lotion, talk to your vet. If they licked a topical lotion that contains toxic chemicals, call your vet. Explain the amount of licked lotion and the type. The vet will explain how to proceed from there. They will let you know the risks to your dog and what you should do. 

If your fur baby starts vomiting or having diarrhea after licking lotion, take them to the vet or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately. It’s better to avoid home remedies as they can make the situation worse. Prompt treatment may make a big difference in your pet’s prognosis.

Pet parent tip: Store all lotions and topical products well away from your doggie.

Is Baby Lotion Safe for Dogs?

Same as adult lotions, baby lotions can be dangerous for dogs. Licking and ingesting baby lotion might result in gastrointestinal upsets to toxicities. Just because a cosmetic product is labeled for baby use does not mean it is safe for your dog to lick.

dog licking owner on neck
Dog Licking a Lotion

Wrapping up

Let’s face it! It seems amusing when your dog licks lotion but it’s not a good thing for them to do. Licking lotions is a bad idea. Sadly, dogs do not think the same way, and it is up to us to limit the opportunities and discourage the behavior.

You should keep the lotions out of the reach of your dog. Do not let your dog lick you if you have applied any.

Related Reading: 4 Reasons Your Dog Licks Your Hand

stuart and his dog

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.