Why do Chihuahuas lick so much like they’re trying to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
Our rescue Chihuahua, Leo, is no exception.
He is a little licking machine, leaving us both amused and curious about the reasons behind this behavior.
So why do some Chis do this and should you be concerned?
In this blog post, unravel the 32 most common reasons that drive a Chihuahua to lick and 6 valuable tips to reduce this slobbery habit.
Why Do Chihuahuas Lick So Much?
The most natural reasons for licking are self-grooming and showing affection. It can also be due to medical issues like allergies or Atopic Dermatitis, behavioral issues, or simply boredom.
Why Do Chihuahuas Lick Themselves?
Chihuahuas mainly lick themselves for grooming purposes, but there are other reasons, too.
1. Grooming Themselves
Chihuahuas often lick to groom themselves.
This is a natural instinct for them and helps keep them clean.
If their paws are dirty, dogs may lick them to clean away the dirt.
Dogs tend to lick each other’s eyes to groom them.
Chihuahuas also lick themselves after urinating as a means to clean up. Dog kissers beware!
2. Pain or Injury
Did your Chihuahua get injured?
If your Chihuahua injures their leg, he may start licking as a way to soothe the pain.
The injury itself may not be noticeable so look for changes in your dog’s behavior, such as licking and limping.
If you suspect your Chihuahua is hurt, see your vet right away so they can determine the level of injury and remedy required.
3. Dental and Gum Issues
Poor dental health can cause your Chihuahua to lick more frequently.
This is because they may be trying to relieve the discomfort of a toothache or gum disease.
Small dogs commonly experience dental issues due to their tiny mouths, so it’s important to brush your Chihuahua’s teeth regularly and have them examined by a vet.
If your Chihuahua is bored, they might start licking as a way to relieve their boredom.
Chihuahuas are very active dogs and need plenty of exercise and stimulation.
When your dog is stuck inside all day, they may start licking themselves or items like bed sheets as a way to entertain themselves.
Make sure your Chihuahua is getting enough exercise.
5. Anxious or Stressed
When this happens, they may start licking excessively as a way to calm down and relieve that anxiety.
Licking helps soothe them and releases endorphins so that they can begin to relax.
Experiencing a wound can be one cause of why Chihuahuas lick so much.
A dog’s saliva contains antibacterial properties so dogs lick their wounds to help them heal.
If your Chihuahua is licking excessively in one spot, check them for a wound and see your vet if their condition worsens.
If a Chihuahua feels like they have itchy and irritated skin, they may start licking as a way to relieve the itch.
Common places Chihuahuas have allergies are on their belly, legs, and paws.
It’s important not to let them lick too much or it will create open wounds or hot spots.
Work with your vet to determine the cause of your dog’s allergies.
Read more: Are Chihuahuas Hypoallergenic?
Fleas and mites are a common reason why your Chihuahua licks so much.
Flea bites are itchy and can cause your dog to lick and scratch excessively.
Consult with your vet for flea treatments and good luck flea hunting.
9. Dry Skin
Chihuahuas have thin coats, so they are more susceptible to dry skin, which can be itchy and uncomfortable.
A poor diet, the weather, allergies, or a lack of fatty acids in their diet can cause dry, itchy skin.
This can lead to excessive licking as a way to relieve the itch, which can make their skin even more irritated.
Cancer can form tumors that are painful and cause irritation, so dogs lick them to relieve the pain.
Cancers in the mouth can also be a reason why they are licking excessively.
It’s important to have them checked by a vet if you notice any changes in their behavior or any lumps on their body.
11. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis in dogs is a skin condition that is similar to eczema in humans.
Dogs with this condition will often lick and scratch their skin obsessively.
Some other signs are hair loss and flaky skin.
A vet will be able to diagnose this condition and may prescribe a special cream or shampoo.
12. Hormonal Imbalance
A couple of medical conditions that can cause Chihuahuas to lick excessively are hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s Disease.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much hormone and Cushing’s Disease is a disorder in which the dog’s body produces too much cortisol.
Some other symptoms these conditions can cause are excessive thirst and urination, weight gain, and changes in their coat.
If your Chihuahua is experiencing one or more of these conditions, take them to the vet for an exam.
13. Anal Gland Issues
If your dog’s anal glands are full or impacted, they may start licking their butt as a way to relieve the pressure and discomfort.
If you suspect your dog’s anal glands are full or impacted, a trip to the vet to have them expressed will clear this issue up.
Why Do Chihuahuas Lick People?
There are several reasons that cause Chihuahuas to lick you that we’ll list below.
Chihuahuas love to lick people’s faces or even inside noses.
This can be seen as a sign of affection.
They may run up to you and start licking your face, it’s their way of saying, “I love you!”
15. Seeking Attention
Some Chihuahuas will lick people in order to get attention.
If your dog is doing this, make sure to give him plenty of attention and love.
16. Excited to See You
Chihuahuas may lick people when they are excited to see them.
This is usually a happy, giddy lick and it’s not anything to worry about.
Just like you’re excited to see your dog after a long day of work, they are equally if not more excited to see you, too!
After they are done barking in excitement, they will go to town licking your face!
17. Salty Skin
Some Chihuahuas lick people because they like the salty taste.
You may find after a hard workout, your Chihuahua starts licking your legs because your sweat contains salt.
Licking intently can be a sign your Chihuahua is trying to communicate with you.
They could be trying to tell you they’re hungry or need to go outside.
This is exactly what our Chihuahua Leo does to tell us it’s dinnertime, accompanied by a few barks.
19. To Taste Your Food
Another cause for your Chihuahua to lick your face could be to taste your food.
Chihuahuas love to eat and they want a piece of whatever you’re eating, so if you have a bit leftover on your face, they’ll try to lick it off.
Why Do Chihuahuas Lick Other Dogs?
Chihuahuas lick other dogs for a variety of reasons, some being similar to why they lick people.
20. Social Grooming
Chihuahuas may lick other dogs as a way to groom them.
This can be seen as a sign of friendship between the two dogs.
If your dog trusts another dog, he will lick them, even their eyes.
Siblings tend to lick each other to become closer and form a bond.
21. Instinct From Mother
Licking is a natural instinct for dogs that they learned in their puppy days.
Mother dogs lick their puppies to clean them after birth, to encourage breathing, and to stimulate urination and defecation.
So this is something that is ingrained in a dog’s behavior.
Wolves also lick their mother’s mouth when they’re hungry so that the wolf will regurgitate food for the pup.
Unsurprisingly, this behavior has carried over to modern dogs.
Chihuahuas may lick other dogs when they are excited to see them.
This is typically seen as a sign of friendship between the two dogs. It’s also super adorable.
23. Submission to Dogs
Licking another dog can also be a sign of submission from your Chihuahua.
One theory why dogs do this is because wolves will often groom each other as a show of respect for their leader.
For example, if your dog sees another dog, he may start licking its mouth to show respect and keep the peace.
Why Do Chihuahuas Lick Furniture?
Is your Chihuahua licking random objects in your house? These reasons could be the culprit.
24. To Explore Textures
One reason why Chihuahuas lick furniture is because they are exploring their environment.
This is an opportunity for them to learn about their surroundings and sample new textures.
Being their strongest senses, they use their tongues and noses to taste and smell all the new things in their environment.
25. Spilled Food
Your Chihuahua may start licking the furniture or the carpet if they see or smell spilled food.
Even if it’s just crumbs or faint remnants of food, their scavenger instinct drives them to lick up every last morsel.
Our Chihuahua, Leo, is like a Roomba always rooming around the house hoping to lick up any remains he can find.
26. Boredom Killer
If your Chihuahua is bored, he may start licking the furniture as a way to entertain himself.
Dogs need mental stimulation and daily exercise, so make sure to give them plenty of toys and activities to keep them busy.
If you want some ideas on fun games to play with your Chihuahua, take a look at our post!
27. Gastrointestinal Disorder
Stomach and intestinal problems can cause dogs to excessively lick surfaces, which is called Excessive Licking Syndrome (ELS).
If your Chihuahua is licking the furniture or the floor, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet to rule out any health issues.
28. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Chihuahuas that have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can exhibit excessive licking behavior.
This is why it’s so important to rule out any medical reasons why your dog is licking. If it’s determined that your Chihuahua has OCD, there are treatments available to help him.
Why Do Chihuahuas Lick Their Lips and Nose?
Licking their lips is a sign of a nervous Chihuahua, especially if their ears are back or they turn their head away.
This can be a sign that they are uncomfortable with their current situation and they need your help to make them feel more at ease, even if that means giving them space.
When Chihuahuas are hungry, they tend to lick their lips.
Our dog, Leo, comes to us, licks his lips, and whines when he is hungry for dinner.
Dogs also lick their lips in anticipation of receiving a treat.
Chihuahuas lick their noses to keep them moist.
Moisture helps to keep their nose from becoming dry and cracking.
A moist nose helps dogs pick up scents better.
The weather or dehydration can cause a dry nose so always keep some water handy.
32. To Taste Scents
Dogs can lick the scent off their noses and taste it.
Dogs learn through smelling so by licking the scent particles off their nose, they are able to learn even more about it through taste.
How to Stop Your Chihuahua From Licking So Much?
If your Chihuahua is licking excessively, there are several ways to help him depending on what the root cause is.
1. See Your Vet
A veterinarian will be able to rule out any health issues like a gastrointestinal issue or OCD.
Once you’ve determined there aren’t any underlying medical problems, you can start working on tackling the behavioral reasons for why your Chihuahua is licking.
2. Exercise & Mental Stimulation
One way to help curb your Chihuahua’s excessive licking is to provide him with plenty of exercise.
Make sure he has lots of toys to play with and take him for walks or runs in the park.
Giving your dog puzzles to solve or toys that require him to use his brain will help keep him occupied and prevent him from licking out of boredom.
Read our post on how much exercise a Chihuahua really needs to make sure they’re getting enough.
3. Give Them Something to Chew On or A Lickmat
When a Chihuahua is licking excessively, give them something to take their mind off it and redirect the behavior.
When dogs are licking as a way to soothe themselves due to anxiety or boredom, this is the perfect solution.
Licking and chewing releases endorphins so a Lickmat or chews make great options for anxious or bored pups.
This will help keep them occupied and may stop the licking.
4. Alleviate Their Allergies
If your Chihuahua is licking you because of allergies, the best thing to do is work with your veterinarian to determine the cause of the allergies.
You may need to change your dog’s diet or start him on medication to relieve the inflammation.
If your Chihuahua has irritated skin and is licking as a way to soothe it, you can try using a skin spray.
There are many different brands available with ingredients like oatmeal, aloe, and lavender.
Just be sure to make sure there are no harmful chemicals or alcohol in it.
5. Keep Paws Clean
Clean your dog’s paws after a walk or after playing in the mud.
This way you won’t find them later trying to lick dried mud off.
Wiping their paws with a damp cloth or paw wipes will do the trick.
6. Restrict Access
To prevent excessive licking on the legs and paws, you can use a baby sock or wrap the leg in gauze to deter licking.
Just put the sock over your Chihuahua’s paw and secure it so he will not be able to lick it.
If that doesn’t work you might have to move to a cone or clothing if they have lots of hot spots or irritation to restrict access to those areas.
There you have your answer to: why do Chihuahuas lick so much?
As you have seen, Chihuahuas lick so much for a variety of reasons, some better than others.
Sometimes licking indicates a health problem such as allergies, a skin condition, or a GI disorder.
If your Chihuahua is licking excessively, it’s best to see a vet and try out our useful tips.
Is There a Reason Why My Chihuahua Licks Everything?
Some of the most common reasons include seeking attention, boredom, anxiety, or a medical issue. If your Chihuahua is licking excessively, you should try to provide him with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and something to chew on. Take them to the vet if you suspect a medical problem.
Why Does My Chihuahua Lick His Paws?
Chihuahuas may lick their paws excessively because of allergies, pain, skin issues, or boredom. Licking may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If your Chihuahua is licking his paws excessively, it might be worth a trip to the vet.
Should Your Dog Lick Your Wound?
Although dog saliva does contain some antibacterial properties, it’s not recommended that you let your dog lick your wound. This is because their saliva contains other bacteria and viruses which may cause an infection.
Why Is My Dog Licking the Air So Much?
Dogs lick the air for lots of reasons: to smell things better, if they have a compulsive disorder, dental pain, GI issues, etc. Occasional bouts of air-licking are likely not serious, but you should keep an eye on this behavior to make sure it doesn’t increase in frequency.