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Why Do dogs Lick Your Face? Vets Caution: “Be Careful”

Why Do Dogs Licks Your Face?
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Why do dogs lick your face?

Most animals including dogs use their tongues to clean themselves, drink and eat, and discover the world.

Next time when your doggie comes near to lick your face, think a second where his 7-inch tongue might have rested some time ago.

It may look very normal from a dog lovers point of view, but vets caution: Stay Away.

Why Do Dogs Lick?

Dogs, in general, lick their fellow friends and themselves for countless reasons. Some of the reasons include-


The most simple reason that pet dogs lick is love. Licking for love releases endorphins that comfort and calm them, but mostly it can get out of control.

If you wish to change your dog’s behavior,  simply avoid them, and walk away. With time, they will stop licking you because this isn’t they expect from you.


Dogs lick other pets to send across the message that varies from – “ I like you” to “ Let’s play together.”

Dogs also carry on this behavior with humans as well, but we don’t understand that.  If you find your dog licking you with force, check if their water bowl is present or missing.

Your dog may need your help.

Anxiety or stress

Talking of insane licking, if you find that your pet is continuously licking the same thing over and over,  it’s time you seek the help of a vet.

While licking can relieve stress, obsessive licking reinforces the seriousness of the issue.


Dog saliva consists of enzymes that can kill bacteria. They lick to remove dirt and clean dead tissues.


Cats and dogs lick themselves to keep themselves spick and span.  They groom themselves to our much ease. Frequent anal cleaning means its time for some serious work.

You taste salty

When your dog licks the floor, or the food bowl even after eating, then it means they like the taste. Are you aware that dogs like the salty taste of the human skin?

Dogs love the salt produced by our skin.

Why Vets Say “No” To Dog Licking Human Face?

According to vets, most animals’ mouth including a dog is a reservoir of a huge oral microbiome of yeast, viruses, and bacteria.

A dog’s saliva contains plenty of proteins that may allow it to heal or cleanse its own injuries. There are certain bacterias that are not meant to combat the human immune system.

Dangers Of Dog Licking A Human

Certain bacteria in your dogs’ mouth are strongly zoonotic in nature, meaning your dog can pass those bacterias to humans.

Common zoonotic bacteria include campylobacter, salmonella, E. coli, and Clostridium, and they can lead to a severe gastrointestinal problem in humans.

Can Dog’s Saliva Spread More Illnesses?

As per a vet report, other infections including roundworms and hookworms can be passed through a method called coprophagia, a condition where animals eat another animals stool.

One study conducted by a team of experts concluded that a dog could carry around 20 to 30 million roundworm infested eggs in their intestinal tract in a week.

It’s believed that a dog carrying fecal matter in its mouth can transmit all sorts of intestinal parasites to any human through licking. This is not false but a very rare scenario.

A more easy way to ingest a parasite for your dog is by eating contaminated soil with droppings.

Should I Totally Stop My Dog From Licking Me At All?

Wait. Don’t rush to any conclusions.

When dog saliva caresses the healthy human skin, usually in a fit person, it’s less likely to cause any health concern because the skin will absorb only negligible amounts.

In other cases, a dog’s pathogens and saliva are easily absorbed via a person’s mucous membrane located in the eyes, mouth, and nose.

A person getting sick in this manner is quite low, but to be on a safe side, you better stop your dog from licking those parts.

Elaborating further, a vet expressed that more than what a dog’s saliva carries, dogs spend their lifetime hovering and sniffing over dog droppings.

Are There Any Other Common Issues?

Remember this, not all dogs like to be kissed or hugged.

Most pet owners seldom notice a subtle change in their pet’s body language that shows anger, stress, or fear.

Shoving your face into a pet’s face and smooching it could trigger the dog to bite your face.

Are Cats Safe When It Comes To Licking?

Cats are different from dogs, they do not eat feces and humans are free from parasites if any.

They do carry several bacterias in their mouth such as Bartonella henselae, a bacteria that causes severe lymph and skin node infection called cat scratch fever.

Another bacteria, Pasteurella, can also cause lymph node and skin infections.

Bites and scratches are the most popular way to contract those infections.

What Safety Precautions Should I Follow?

Vets advise

  • Check whether all your pets are updated on all vaccine shots
  • Always deworm your new pets without fail
  • Place the enclosure of your pet far away from the feces ( cats or dogs)
  • Regularly wash your hands with a vet certified hand cleaner.

From The President’s Desk

During an interview, Former American President Obama said, “ I won’t let Bo Obama and Sunny Obama lick my face because I see them chewing on and picking up things I don’t like.”


Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?


Let’s learn why does your dog chew or lick his feet.

  • Presence of foreign bodies such as burrs, grass awns, fleas, and ticks stuck between the toes.
  • Corns, seen in Greyhounds
  • Burns
  • Toes
  • Fractured claws
  • Puncture Wounds

A dog will engage in this behavior due to other reasons including

Main Reasons for Chronic Chewing or Licking

The main reason is allergic skin diseases. Other factors include

  • Food allergies
  • Secondary infection including bacteria and yeast
  • Most dogs lick them because they feel nice and happy about it
  • Dogs suffering from lick granulomas may lick the area due to allergen, simple itch, or injury
  • Seek vet advice since most of the cases are treatable if treated early

What Does It Mean When A Dog Licks Your Hand?


When a dog licks your hand, it could mean a lot of things. Dog hand licking can also happen due to anxiety or to express a feeling of friendliness.

Compulsive behavior

When a dog’s hand licking behavior turns excessive, it may show a compulsive licking activity. This sort of behavior is different from tail chasing and immoderate barking.

If you find your dog licking the bedroom walls, the compulsive behavior could be the reason. Plenty of reasons could trigger compulsions and it could be due to

  • Past neglect or injury
  • Insufficient experience with other pets
  • Isolation
  • Separation from someone close to the dogs

Salt adds taste

Another reason for a dog licking the hand is due to salt content. Your dog might feel that your hand tastes salty. The salt-smelling skin cream could have triggered this sort of a behavior.


When dogs meet other dogs, they lick each other. This behavior is called “allogrooming.”


A dog may also lick your hand as a mark of respect. In the animal world, licking each other is like greeting one other.

Licking in the dog language could well mean “spoiling” you to stay on happy terms with you.

Good behavior

If a dog likes you, he may express his feelings by licking your hand. Hand licking is one of the few activities that are considered cool in the canine world.

Why Does My Dog Lick My Ears?


Many dog owners would have watched their pet licking the ears of some other dog. This behavioral disorder is not uncommon in dogs.

Licking ears is a typical dog behavior

Dogs have evolved from wolves, and being pack animals, often take part in mutual grooming.

The ear is a place which dogs may find it difficult to groom without others help. If you notice a dog licking ears of another cat or a human or even you, it either means-

  • I love you unconditionally
  • I accept you as my leader

Ear licking – a gross behavior

Ear wax tastes a little salty. They make excellent treats for some dogs. Some dogs love the smell of ear discharge.

A sudden love in someone’s ear could also mean there is a problem in their ear.

If you find the ear licking too much to bear, contact your vet for other solutions. The solution could range from making the dog adopt other types of affection. Encourage the use of interactive toys.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Licks Your Feet?


For many dog owners, this sort of behavior sounds odd. Licking is a normal canine behavior. Jacobson’s organ, a sensory organ, connects the roof of the dog’s mouth and his nasal cavity.

They normally lick to communicate and understand their surroundings. The main function of this organ is to allow the dog to smell and taste simultaneously

Female dogs lick their pups to provide care and communicate affection. In some cases, excessive licking is like biting your nails. This can easily frustrate the dog owners over a period of time.

The reason behind licking the feet

Stinky, sweaty feet contain a lot of information and pheromones is one such information. Sweat also contains salt.

As a dog owner, you should understand the difference between a licking habit and an occasional lick.

If you find your dog taking the licking to a different level, it could mean a behavioral problem.

If you respond immediately as soon your dog licks your feet, he could think that it’s a game.

With good proper training, you can easily save your feet from getting licked.

Steps to prevent your dog from licking your feet

You can try positive reinforcement techniques and try to distract your pet. Truly headstrong dogs need more stringent steps to curb this habit.

You can contact your trainer or vet to create a strategy and deter licking.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Licks Himself Too Much?


Dogs lick themselves. When licking turns into a clinical symptom, then you should worry about your dog. Skin lesions are responsible for your dog to lick himself.

Conditions that need a medical intervention-

Pica is one such cause for dog licking. It happens due to GI disease. Smacking the lips could also state medical issue in your dog.

A dog can get affected for a variety of reasons ranging from hot spots, non-allergy irritation, auto-immune diseases, food allergies, to hormonal disease.

A good decision is to get your dog examined if their skin looks irritated.

Hair loss or hair thinning could also show dermatitis in dogs.

Fleas exposure leads to itchiness that causes chewing and licking. If you find your pet is licking near the tail base, allergic to fleas is a major factor.

Dogs lick their wounds due to infection also. Depending on the severity, must collar to control licking.

Why Does My Dog Lick My Nose?


Nose and face licking indicates behavior that leaves a lot of people confused, but it does make good sense.

Gaining details

While humans rely on their eyes to gather information, dogs use their nose for this purpose.

Some dogs lick and gather information. Your dog might lick you to know where you had been.


Submissive gestures get transformed into friendly gestures. When dog owners give undue attention to dogs, the dog will start to think that licking is cool.

Submissive behavior

Licking indicates a submissive behavior. Dogs use this behavior to solve the conflict. Some dogs lick to express fear.

Instinctive behavior

Dogs learn to lick in puppyhood. Both wolves and wild dogs lick and motivate their parents to feed food.

Some adults and puppies may lick when they feel hungry. Most dogs lick to express their cordial feelings toward their owner.

Why Does My Dog Lick My Wounds?


Wound licking appears like a normal response. Primates, rodents, cats, and dogs all lick wounds.

Some people believe that animal saliva contains healing properties. The simple act of a dog’s licking can help in handling the wound.

The saliva acts to reduce any dirt that may be present on the surface.  Any debris or dirt will stick to the saliva, the area of injury will remain cleansed.

As per reports, proteins called histatins are present in saliva. Dog saliva is strong enough to ward off simple infections.

When saliva comes into contact with the skin, the nitrite present in saliva turns into nitric oxide. This chemical compound protects scratches and cuts from bacterial infections.

New Growth Factor (NGF) present in saliva healed wounds fast compared to unlicked wounds.

For all practical and health reasons, it’s better you don’t allow your dog to lick your wounds.

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