As Pug lovers, have your Pugs lick your face? Do you see them licking the air?
They are so cute, but ‘why do Pugs lick so much?’.
If your Pug’s licking habits have become a cause for concern (or you’re just a bit curious), what should you do?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your Pug’s licking at a healthy level and totally in control.
Why Do Pugs Lick So Much?
When you start to notice your Pug licking here, there and everywhere, it can be hard to pin down a cause. Actually, there are so many reasons why your Pug licks.
Licking is an instinctive response and, most of the time, your Pug uses licking as a way to show affection.
Pug puppies are licked by their mother from the moment they are born. It’s their very first sensory experience (their eyes aren’t even open at this point) and bonds them closely to their mother. Licking, therefore, quickly becomes a deep-rooted bonding behavior.
When your Pug licks you or other dog pals, think of it as a form of communication. It might be a bit too warm and slobbery at times, but those kisses are a sign of true affection.
Remember Pugs are licked by their mothers from birth and carry this behavior into adult life.
Let’s recap. Pug licking is usually a deep-rooted behavior used to show love and affection. However, there are other possible reasons behind your Pug’s licking habit.
- To keep wounds clean and remove dead tissues
- To keep their nose moist (improves smell and temperature control)
- Behavioral factors
- Medical causes
- They enjoy the salty taste of skin
Should I Be Worried If My Pug Licks A Lot?
Most of the time, licking is nothing to worry about. But there are some cases where licking becomes a cause for concern and might warrant medical attention from your veterinarian.
- Licking objects, walls, furniture
- Licking their own skin – this is a sign of skin irritation
- Licking air – signals saliva buildup and/ digestive distress
- Licking for no apparent reason – sometimes indicates OCD
If you are worried about your Pug’s licking behaviors, we recommend visiting your vet. They will identify any medical or behavioral problems that are causing your Pug to lick excessively.
What’s Making My Pug Lick?
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s time to discuss what’s making your Pug lick and why.
Pinning down the cause of your Pug’s behavior isn’t easy. With so many possible causes, you’ll need to monitor your Pug closely.
We recommend that you start tracking your Pug’s licking habits as soon as you suspect a problem. Once behavior becomes habitual, it’s much harder to reverse.
You might want to try keeping a detailed log of when, where, and how your Pug licks over a period of time (1- 2 weeks). It’s also a good idea to note down whether it is easy to stop or distract your pooch from licking in each instance.
This will be a great help to you and your vet when trying to identify a cause.
It might look something like this:
You could even try installing a camera to monitor your dog’s behavior even more closely when you’re not around.
With this information to hand, you’ll have a much better idea of exactly what it is that’s bothering your pooch.
- Are they in pain?
- Are they irritated, stressed, or just seeking attention?
To help you monitor your Pug, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of Pug licking causes. From the medical to the behavioral and everything in between.
If you’ve got a Pug that just can’t stop licking, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with this list and prepare your own Pug licking diary to present to your vet.
Your vet will want to know:
- when the licking started
- how long it goes on
- any behaviors associated with the licking
If you’ve already done the research, you’ll be well on your way to finding the best solution.
So, What Could be Making Your Pugs Lick?
1. Medical causes
In some cases, there will be an underlying medical issue at the root of your Pug’s licking problem.
It could be something as simple as dehydration, nausea, or an upset tummy. But sometimes licking is a sign of something more serious.
Other possible medical issues include:
- Bacteria, parasites, and fungus.
These organisms cultivate on the skin causing your Pug to become extremely uncomfortable and itchy. They may even develop allergic reactions as a result.
This is quite common (especially if your pooch spends a lot of time playing and foraging outside). If it’s the case you may need to visit your vet who can prescribe an antibacterial treatment plan.
Just like us, some older Pugs might develop arthritis. Believe it or not, licking is actually a sign that your pet is trying to soothe their pain.
Did you know that licking releases endorphins? And endorphins make us happy right? Think of them as nature’s pain killers.
- Neurological problems
If your Pug is experiencing a seizure, the beginning stages sometimes present as localized twitching.
The second phase (or ictal phase) includes symptoms such as confusion, staring, shaking, and even licking.
If you suspect your Pug is experiencing a seizure, it is essential that you visit your vet for immediate, emergency, care.
Pugs, like humans, are susceptible to dementia as they age. One behavior that can present as a result is excessive licking.
Irregular behaviors such as excessive licking, pacing, and repeated movements or vocalizations, are all typical responses to the confusion that accompanies senior dog dementia.
2. Behavioral causes
Sometimes licking is rooted in behavioral causes. Behavioral causes range from the very mild to the more serious. It is possible that your Pug just wants more attention.
As we know, Pugs are attention seekers. They crave love and affection pretty much all the time. If you’ve been lax with the cuddles recently, licking is your Pug’s way of letting you know.
But if your Pug’s nervous energy becomes relentless, there might be something more serious at play.
Excessive licking is sometimes a sign of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. If your Pug’s licking is hard to stop, or results in hair loss and/or cuts and lesions, your pet might be in psychological distress.
OCD can be triggered by stress or separation anxiety (which we know Pugs are prone to). It can sometimes also develop as a natural progression from excessive boredom. That’s why it’s so important to give your Pug the love and attention they need and deserve.
Common symptoms of canine OCD include:
- Obsessive licking to the point of causing injury
- Obsessive nibbling to the point of causing injury
- Obsessive chewing, eating, or drinking
- Obsessive chasing, pacing, or circling
- Obsessive barking
3. Natural instinct
We already discussed the Pug’s natural instinct to lick. Puppies are licked by their mothers from the moment they are born and Pugs lick their mothers to communicate love and basic needs such as hunger.
When your Pug gives you kisses it is no different. In the canine world, licking shows respect and submission. When your Pug licks you, he or she is identifying you as the pack leader.
Pugs also use their tongues to explore and analyze their surroundings. Taste and smell are essential senses for dogs. The millions of sensory cells on a dog’s tongue paint a detailed picture of its environment.
Ever noticed that your Pug seems to enjoy licking your skin. Many Pugs love the salty taste that resides on skin and they are also well known for their penchant for smelly feet.
How To Stop Your Pug Licking?
We know that moderate Pug licking and kissing are completely normal.
But what can we do when licking starts to get out of hand?
When inappropriate licking behaviors start to become a habit, it becomes much, much harder to reverse.
It’s best to stop your Pug’s licking from becoming a compulsive habit, to begin with. Many people don’t even realize that they are reinforcing these counterproductive behaviors through their own actions.
For example, if all licking is rewarded with happy voices, attention, cuddles, and affection, why would your Pug want to stop?
Any abnormal or obsessive licking behaviors, such as those we have already identified, should not be positively reinforced. Instead, nip them in the bud as soon as possible.
If you’re not quite sure how to stop your Pug from licking too much, don’t worry. Below, you’ll find some of our top tips, for regulating your Pug’s licking so that it never gets out of hand.
1. Avoid positive reinforcement
As soon as your Pug starts to exhibit excessive or unwanted licking behavior, step back and ignore them. Your Pug probably thinks that by licking you over and over again, they’ll be rewarded with some cuddles or petting.
Doing so will cause this behavior to become habitual. So if you actually want them to stop, retract your attention for a while. By continuing this routine over time your Pug will learn that kisses no longer mean cuddles.
2. Command training
If that doesn’t seem to be enough, up to your training routine with strong command.
When your Pug licks simply say ‘no’ firmly and clearly. Then walk away.
Repeat this every time your Pug goes in for a lick and eventually you’ll have a new and effective training command at your disposal.
Teach your Pug new ways to seek your attention. Try using positive reinforcement to encourage these new behaviors.
For example, you might want your Pug to sit as a signal for attention. Reward this behavior with a favorite treat and lots of cuddles. Then repeat until the sit for attention behavior becomes a habitual response.
3. Provide mental stimulation
If your Pug is not getting enough mental stimulation they might resort to licking. This might not be serious at first, but in order to prevent our Pugs from unnecessary mental suffering, it’s important that we provide our pets with plenty of attention, fun, games, and exercise.
If you’re often out and about, or busy working, make a conscious effort to spend more time with your Pug. Pugs need love and attention to be healthy. Giving this affection to your Pug is part and parcel of responsible pet ownership.
Exercise and playtime are super important. Exercise offers lots of mental stimulation in a new environment full of sounds, smells, and people.
Similarly, games and toys are a great way to maintain your pet’s mental health and agility when you are otherwise occupied.
With so much to do and explore, licking will be far from their mind.
The Lowdown on Pugs Licking
Why do Pugs lick so much? Something most Pug owners have pondered one time or another.
It can be hard to know how much licking is normal. Licking is usually a natural care response. But when licking becomes excessive it might indicate a more serious issue.
Check out this video all about why dogs love to lick people!