Dogs Licking Bed Sheets: Why It Happens and How to Curb It

If you’ve ever wondered why do dogs lick bed sheets, you’re not alone. 

We have seen our Chihuahua, Leo, lick our bed sheets on several occasions.

It can be puzzling behavior to us dog owners, but there are actually several reasons why your pup may be licking the sheets.

It can be frustrating when your dog starts a sheet-licking session right when you’re about to go to bed and you encounter wet sheets. 

So if your dog has been leaving slobber stains on your sheets lately, read on to learn more about why they do it and how to curb this behavior!

a dog is lying on a bed and licking the sheets with a pink toy

17 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Bed Sheets

1. Taste 

It’s possible that your dog is attracted to something on the sheet or blanket.

It could be anything from a residual food stain to an unfamiliar scent that the dog is trying to investigate. 

Remember when you indulged in a little late-night snack in bed while binge-watching tv.

Surely some tiny crumbs were dropped.

While it may have seemed like a harmless snack, little did you know your pup was on the scent of those tasty morsels that dropped onto the sheets.

Chances are they were too small to find with just your eyes but not tiny enough for their sharp senses!

Or if your furry friend had a tasty bone in the bed with them previously they may want to lick up the last bits of it.

2. Anxiety

Why do dogs lick sheets? Dogs lick them or other surfaces as a way to cope with anxiety, fear, or stress.

This type of behavior is often seen in dogs who have separation anxiety or fear-related anxiety

Fear-related anxiety can be triggered by things such as thunderstorms, strangers, balloons, vet visits, brooms, or even flies.

If your dog licks the sheets or other items when you’re not home, it could be a sign of separation anxiety. 

Licking releases endorphins, which act as natural stress relievers, so the behavior can be seen as a self-soothing technique.

It’s a way for them to calm themselves during a stressful situation. 

Besides licking, some other symptoms of anxiety are trembling, panting, excessive barking, pacing, drooling, wrapping their paws around you, or destructive behavior.

3. Smell of You

a dog is sitting on a bed with a person's feet in the corner of the frame

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and can pick up on scents that are imperceptible to humans.

Since your bed sheets smell like you, they may be trying to get as close to your scent as possible. 

This can especially occur when you’re away from home and your dog is looking for a way to keep your scent close. 

When we sleep we shed skin cells and we might sweat a bit, leaving behind our unique scent.

Dogs are drawn to this and might be trying to lick up the scent. Dogs have been known to lick belly buttons for this exact reason.

Humans have only 6 million sensory receptor sites, but dogs possess over 100 million in the nasal cavity – making their sense of smell up to 10,000 times more effective than ours. 

4. Pica

Pica is an eating disorder that causes dogs to ingest non-food items like rocks, plastic, clothes, cardboard, etc.

Dogs with this condition may start licking bed sheets because they want to eat the fabric.

Pica is usually caused by malnutrition, certain medical conditions, a side effect of medication, parasites, or separation anxiety.

Dogs can get bowel obstructions from eating things they can’t digest.

If you suspect that your pup has pica, it is important to take them to the vet for further evaluation. 

5. Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD)

Like humans, some dogs can develop a compulsive disorder.

Canine Compulsive Disorder is when a dog engages in normal behaviors but they are repeated in an excessive manner.

In this case, the dog may be licking bed sheets compulsively as a way to cope with their anxiety or stress.

Other signs include tail chasing, pacing, spinning, fly biting, and patterned barking.

If a dog seems to be fixated on licking sheets or blankets for long periods of time, it may be a sign of CCD or obsessive behavior.

It is important to get your pup checked out by a vet if you suspect they have this. 

6. Seek Attention

Why do dogs lick blankets and sheets? Some dogs have learned that licking strange things will get them attention from their owners, so they will keep doing it.

This can be a difficult habit to break, as it is often caused by an underlying need for attention. 

Other ways your dog will seek attention is by headbutting, licking your nostrils, pawing at your arm, burying their head into you, or barking.

Make sure you are spending enough time with your pooch and giving them the love and attention they need.

7. Boredom

dog licks a blanket on a bed

If your pup is not getting enough exercise or stimulation, they may turn to licking bed sheets as a way to relieve boredom.

Dogs will lick surfaces to keep them busy when they have nothing else to do. 

Make sure your pup is getting plenty of physical and mental stimulation throughout the day to keep them happy and healthy so they don’t resort to having a licking session.

We have an entire post on the best games to play with your dog to give you some new ideas.

8. Medical Reasons

Dogs may also lick blankets and sheets due to medical reasons such as pain, skin conditions, allergies, or infections. 

A lot of times when a dog has an upset stomach, they will lick their lips and other surfaces.

If your pooch licks the sheets persistently and they aren’t acting quite like themself, take them to the vet to rule out any underlying medical issues. 

9. Encouraged Behavior

Sometimes, owners inadvertently encourage their pup’s licking behavior by giving them attention when they do something. 

You may have thought licking the sheets was cute or funny and you talked to them in a cute voice, cuddled them, or seemed pleased afterward.

This can create an association between licking and getting something positive (like attention), so the behavior continues even when we don’t want it to. 

Make sure to only reward your pup for desirable behavior and refrain from making a big fuss when they start licking bed sheets. 

10. Diet Change

If you’re wondering, “why is my dog licking my bed sheets” after he eats, it could be due to a recent diet change.

A sudden change in diet can lead to digestive issues or an upset stomach, which can cause your pup to obsessively lick. 

If your dog is licking your sheets after eating, it’s most likely due to the food they are eating or a digestive issue.

Make sure to transition your pup’s diet slowly and consult with a vet if you notice any changes in their eating habits. 

11. Mouth Pain

Dogs may start licking bed sheets if their mouth is feeling painful. This could be caused by a dental issue, such as an abscess or a broken tooth. 

Teething puppies may also start licking as a way to alleviate pain from growing in new teeth.

Puppies lick and chew on things like shoes, furniture, your hands, and even bed sheets to relieve the discomfort.

If your pup is licking the bedsheets a lot and seems to be in pain, it’s important to take them to the vet for a checkup. 

12. Quirk

a terrier dog is sitting on sheets and licking her lips

Dogs, especially Chihuahuas, love licking. So, maybe your dog just loves the taste of your sheets or enjoys licking in general!

It’s possible that some dogs just have a strange quirk and enjoy licking things like bed sheets, the floor, your legs, and their toys.

Some dogs will lick anything and everything they can get their paws on!

As long as your pup is otherwise healthy and not licking obsessively, there is no need to worry about this behavior. 

13. Malnourished

If your dog is not getting enough nutrients in their diet, they may start licking bed sheets as a way to supplement their nutrition.

They will try to lick up any little crumb or speck of food that may have fallen onto the sheets. Dogs who are hungry or malnourished will look for food anywhere.

Make sure your pup is getting a balanced diet with all the essential nutrients to prevent this behavior from happening. 

14. Anal Gland Leakage

If your pup is licking the bed sheets and they sleep with you, it could be that their anal glands leaked during the night.

Dogs will often lick themselves and their bedding to clean it up if this happens. 

If it’s time for your dog’s anal glands to be expressed, it is important to get them checked out by a vet before any problems arise. 

15.  Curiosity

If you’re wondering “why is my dog licking my sheets,” it could be that your pup is simply curious and wants to explore them with their tongue.

Dogs are naturally curious creatures and can express this by licking surfaces or nibbling objects to satisfy their curiosity. 

If this is the case, you may want to give your pup some age-appropriate toys or activities to occupy their interest. 

16. Territory Marking

Dogs may also lick bed sheets as a way to mark their territory and leave their scent behind.

Just like dogs urinate to mark their territory, they can also do this with saliva.

Your dog might do this if you got a new animal or a new partner moved in.

Make sure to keep your bedding clean and fresh so that they don’t feel inclined to mark it. 

17. Destructive Behavior

a dog is licking his lips and peeking out from a blanket

Be aware that if your pup is licking the sheets too often, it could be a sign of destructive behavior.

If your pup starts to chew or shred the sheets, it may indicate that they are bored or anxious. 

Other destructive behaviors include chewing on furniture, shoes, or other household items, urinating or defecating inside the house, and scratching or digging at doors or walls.

Provide your pup with plenty of activities such as chew toys and interactive games to keep them from resorting to destructive behavior.

Tips to Stop Your Dog From Licking Bed Sheets

Now that you’ve figured out the answer to why do dogs lick bed sheets, it’s time to take action if this behavior is bothersome.

Here are some tips on how to stop your dog from licking bed sheets.

Don’t Encourage the Behavior

First and foremost, it’s important to make sure you’re not encouraging the sheet-licking behavior by rewarding your pup with treats or attention.

Doing so may reinforce the behavior and make it harder to stop. 


Provide your pup with an alternative activity to redirect their attention away from the bed sheets.

Supervise your pup when they are on the bed and if they start licking, offer them a chew toy, a Lickimat, or a Kong to keep them occupied.

A quick option is to toss some treats onto the floor to get them off the bed immediately.

Vet Visit

To rule out any medical reasons such as pain, malnutrition, or pica, it’s important to take your pup to the vet for a checkup.

A vet can help diagnose any underlying issues and provide you with solutions to help your pup stop licking the bed sheets. 

Reduce Access to the Bed

If your pup has free roam of the house and can jump onto your bed at any time, it may be a good idea to limit their access.

You can try keeping your bedroom door closed during the day or putting a baby gate up. 

Exercise and Enrichment

Make sure your pup is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation on a regular basis.

Walks, interactive toys, playtime, and puzzle feeders can help to keep your pup physically and mentally engaged.

This will help prevent them from engaging in destructive behaviors such as licking bed sheets. 

Dietary Change

Check that your pup is getting the right balance of nutrients in their diet and the right amount of food.

If your pup isn’t getting enough vitamins or minerals, it could lead to them licking the bed sheets in an attempt to satisfy their nutritional needs.

Also, be careful to not change your dog’s diet too rapidly as this may result in digestive upset, which could also be another reason to lick the sheets.

Avoid Eating in Bed

Although breakfast in bed sounds nice, it might make your pup more tempted to lick the bed sheets.

Avoid eating in bed because crumbs can quickly drop and spills are likely to occur. Your pup won’t be able to resist licking up the mess!

Wash Your Sheets Regularly

Finally, be sure to regularly wash your sheets and blankets to keep them clean.

This will help make the bed less appealing for your pup and they may be less likely to lick it. 


Why do dogs lick bed sheets? They do this behavior for a variety of reasons ranging from anxiety to boredom to hunger. It might also be a sign of a medical issue like pica or OCD. 

By understanding why dogs lick bed sheets in the first place, you can better address and resolve the issue.

Once you know the root cause, our tips can give you a helping hand in kicking your pup’s licking habit so you don’t keep ending up with slobbery sheets anymore. 


Why Does My Dog Lick My Pillows and Blankets?

If you find yourself with a wet pillow or blanket, your pup might be trying to lick up any salty sweat you left behind or bits of a previous bone they had. Dogs have an incredibly keen sense of smell, so they might be able to detect something you can’t like tiny crumbs.

Other reasons why your pup might be licking pillows and blankets include anxiety, hunger, and boredom. It’s also possible that they are just looking for attention or trying to release some pent-up energy or they have an underlying medical condition.

Why Does My Dog Lick the Blanket at Night?

Dogs can smell our scent left behind since we spend so much time in bed so they want to lick up the scent. It could also be a sign of separation anxiety, boredom, or hunger.

A medical issue or nutritional deficiency could compel them to lick the blanket as well. 

Why Do Dogs Lick Furniture Fabric?

Dogs lick furniture fabric because of a possible medical condition, to lick up food morsels, or out of curiosity. In some cases, it can be due to boredom or anxiety, or lack of exercise.

If your pup is licking the furniture fabric too often, it’s best to consult a vet to rule out medical issues and provide your dog with plenty of exercise and enrichment activities.

Why Does My Dog Lick Before Sleeping?

Dogs lick themselves before bedtime to help them relax or to groom themselves. Many dogs find it calming and comforting to lick.

Allergies are another cause of licking before sleep because as your dog is winding down and not distracted, the itching gets more noticeable. If your pup is licking themself, it could also be a sign of pain or arthritis.

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