Why Does My Dog Lick His Stuffed Toys? 

Many dogs have a favorite toy. But sometimes, that favorite toy becomes an obsession, and soon the toy is being licked relentlessly. 

This article examines why dogs lick their stuffed toys, what causes this behavior, and how you can help your dog.

Why Does My Dog Lick His Stuffed Toys?

There’s nothing wrong with this habit in moderation, but if you notice a sudden change in how often your dog licks his toys, you may ask, ‘Why does my dog lick his stuffed toys?’

So, why do dogs lick their toys? Reasons range from the medical, like nausea or PICA, to wanting their toys to smell a certain way. Other reasons why dogs lick their stuffed toys can include:

  • Thirst
  • Boredom
  • Teething
Learn more about your dog and her weird behaviors in this video!

Common Reasonings for Licking Toys

Here are some of the most common reasons dogs lick their stuffed toys.

Nausea

One possible answer to ‘Why does my dog lick his stuffed toys is that your dog is experiencing nausea.

For many dogs, nausea comes with an unusual or unpleasant taste in their mouth. Vets believe that some dogs lick compulsively to relieve nausea.

If your dog is nauseous or vomiting, you may also notice that they are:

  • Licking/smacking lips
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Trembling
  • Swallowing

Causes of canine nausea range from pregnancy to Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Not only that, but like humans, dogs can become nauseous after eating spoiled food. So, if you are in the habit of feeding your dog table scraps, ensure they haven’t gone off or are within their best-before date. 

See a Veterinarian

Monitoring what food your dog eats doesn’t guarantee they won’t become nauseated because nausea is symptomatic of many things. You should never try to treat canine nausea with human medication without a veterinary recommendation. Judging the correct dose of human medicines for your dog is challenging and can have severe consequences if you get it wrong.

Pica

Another reason why dogs lick their stuffed toys is a condition called pica. Dogs with this condition compulsively eat or lick things that aren’t edible. Stuffed toys are one example, but dogs with pica may also try and eat:

  • Rocks
  • Sticks
  • Blankets
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Too Much Stuffing

Most of the time, these objects are harmless. However, you may have a problem if your dog progresses from licking their stuffed toys to eating them. Stuffed toys look cute and harmless, but if a dog eats significant amounts of the batting inside one, it can cause intestinal blockages.

Call your vet if you notice symptoms like:

  • Vomiting
  • Straining when defecating/urinating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

Scent Marking

One of the more bizarre answers to why your dog licks its stuffed toys is that he wants them to smell the way he does.

Strange as it sounds, canine saliva possesses pheromones. Dogs use pheromones to mark their territory. It’s why bonded dog pairs reciprocally groom each other, and your dog’s favorite thing to do after a walk in the rain is rub up against the sofa.

By licking his stuffed toys, your dog transfers his scent to that toy. Even if you don’t notice the smell, other dogs will. It sends a clear signal that your dog has ownership of that toy.

Dehydration

Another reason dogs lick their stuffed toys is dehydration, especially for dogs who spend their summers sunbathing or playing outside without drinking enough water.

Monitor Water Quantities

A good rule of thumb is that your dog should drink two teaspoons of water every 10 minutes if they spend most of the day outside. Drinking slowly but steadily prevents your dog from vomiting when they finally remember to drink.

It also decreases the need to lick inappropriate objects, like stuffed toys that can’t hydrate them. Licking a soft toy can mitigate dehydration symptoms like dry throat without addressing the problem.

So, if you notice your dog primarily licks his stuffed toys after long walks or roughhousing outside, it might be time to top up the water bowl.

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Boredom

Your dog may lick its toys due to boredom.

Dogs are energetic, social creatures, and an understimulated dog will entertain itself, which can include destructive behavior like:

  • Carpet chewing
  • Gnawing furniture

But it can also take less aggressive forms, and licking soft toys is one of these.

Other signs of boredom in dogs include:

  • Pacing
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Digging
  • Compulsive grooming

When this grooming behavior targets the dog’s body, it can cause complications, like baldness or skin irritation.

The best way to handle a bored dog is by increasing its environmental enrichment, which may include teaching them independent play, so they can stay occupied while you work.

Long walks are another way to get your dog to use up some of that energy. But if you aren’t available to take the dog out yourself, investing in a dog walker can help mitigate canine boredom.

Teething

Finally, depending on your dog’s age, he may lick his soft toys to mitigate the discomfort of teething.

Teething is typical of puppies. As their adult teeth replace their baby teeth, they experience extreme discomfort. To cope with this, your puppy chews, licks, and gnaws on everything, including their stuffed toys.

The good news is that teething usually stops when puppies are approximately six months old. The bad news is that you can’t speed it up.

But you can make the teething experience less painful by providing a teething puppy with appropriate alternatives to their soft toys, like:

  • Ice cubes
  • Chew toys
Does your dog lick you to show love? Find out!

Final Thoughts

By now, it should be clear that there are a variety of answers to ‘Why does my dog lick his stuffed toys?’

Some of these are medical, and others indicate your dog’s personality. Ultimately, you know your dog best, and that will help you correctly diagnose why your dog chews their stuffed toys and treat the behavior appropriately.

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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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