Dog Licking Wall – Why? What to Do?

Licking walls or other surfaces may seem like just another strange dog behavior, but there can be underlying issues causing this that may need treatment.

What kind of problems could cause a dog to lick walls? There are various reasons, from something as simple as being too hot to more severe conditions like Pica. It’s also possible your pup has a nutritional deficiency and is trying to make up for it with their surroundings.

Most dog owners know that our furry friends can do some pretty bizarre stuff and even be downright disgusting at times (I’m looking at you, poop-eaters.). However, most strange behavior has a root cause, and it’s our job to figure out what that is.

What Causes a Dog to Lick the Wall?

Dogs use their tongues for all sorts of things, such as cleaning themselves, showing affection, cooling themselves, and much more. Sometimes it can be challenging for pet owners to determine between expected behavior and what is cause for concern. If your pup seems to be obsessively licking the wall, floor, or other strange surfaces, here are some possible causes.

It’s Too Hot

Dogs can suffer in warmer climates or homes with no AC, especially those with thicker coats. Sometimes, dogs may lick the walls and other surfaces simply because they are cool to the touch. Dogs do not sweat, so it might be hard to tell if they are overheated. Often they will let you know by panting, which is rapid breathing accompanied by sticking their tongue out.

If you think your dog might be trying to lick cool surfaces to get a reprieve from the heat, try giving them ice-cold water to drink or even provide them with ice cubes. Keep them inside when it is too hot, ideally in a tiled or cold-floor room for them to sprawl out on. You can also take treats or dog toys and place them in the freezer on a hot day.

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They Are Stressed

Dogs are known to do crazy things when they are stressed or anxious. More often than not, this is the reason we come home to shredded shoes or destroyed property. Countless things could cause a dog to be stressed, but usually, it comes down to a change in routine. Any significant life change for them can trigger separation anxiety and all sorts of concerning behavior.

If your dog started licking walls around the time of a life event such as moving, schedule change, new family member, etc., it is likely to go away when they settle into their new normal. Try to keep your dog calm and on the same schedule as much as possible, and avoid leaving them alone for more than 4 to 6 hours at a time. Offer good-quality treats and chews to combat boredom and divert their attention while you are away.

Nutritional Deficiency

Being carnivorous, dogs need large amounts of protein (at least 50 grams per day for a large dog) and healthy fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Lack of such can cause weight loss, dull coats, and strange behaviors such as licking things and eating dirt to try and get the nutrients they lack.

There are too many brands today passing off barely-edible garbage as dog food. Be cautious of cheap, grocery store pet foods and treats as they are the equivalent of eating potato chips for every meal. Avoid foods with wheat, corn-meal, by-products, rice flour, bone meal, or animal fats listed in the first few ingredients. Look for brands made in the US and research any previous recalls before feeding your dog.

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Pica is a medical condition that causes the urge to eat things that are not food. It occurs in dogs, humans, and other animals too. Pica will typically have more symptoms than just licking things. Your dog will likely try to eat anything and everything, which can be extremely dangerous, causing your dog to ingest potentially toxic items or causing an intestinal blockage.

If you suspect your dog may have Pica, seek veterinary attention immediately. Pica can result from anemia or malnutrition and may also present during pregnancy. Pica can also be confused with chewing in dogs, so observe them closely to ensure they are not ingesting objects. Chewing and mangling things is a natural way for dogs to ease anxiety or combat boredom, but eating them is not.

Learn more about the wall licking behavior of your dog in this video.

How to Stop Dogs From Licking Walls

As we’ve seen above, there are a few reasons your pup may be licking walls. There is generally one of two root causes; behavioral or nutritional. If your house has experienced some life event recently, likely, your dog is stressed and needs some help adjusting. Spending quality time with your dog and keeping their day structured so they know what to expect will do wonders for their mental health.

If you suspect your dog may be experiencing a nutritional deficiency, finding the root cause is the first step in keeping your pup happy and healthy. Dietary deficits often arise from low-quality dog food, but it can sometimes be more complicated, such as parasites or bowel obstruction. If a good quality kibble doesn’t do the trick, talk to your vet to figure out the best action plan for your pet.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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