Dog licks herself

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Our question this week was:

My dog loves to lick herself. We bathe her regularly but She still likes to lick her stomach and her paws after which it seems she gets hair in her throat. What can we do?

Mike MacNeil


Hi – thanks for your email. First, I'm wondering if your dog is doing a normal amount of licking or an excessive amount of licking. Normal dogs will lick and groom them selves and dogs with skin problems may lick excessively. Dogs may lick (as a way of itching) if they have allergies, a local wounds or skin trauma, a skin infections and/or out of boredom.

Regardless of whether it is a normal amount of licking or an excessive amount of licking, he will probably still lick and have the potential to ingest a small amount of hair. To limit the amount, the best thing you can do is regularly bathe and comb and brush your dog. Routine brushing and combing will remove dead hair so if he does lick or groom, he is less likely to swallow hair (or he will swallow less of it).

If your dog tends to lick more when he is wet after a bath, consider gently drying him with towels followed by blow-drying his hair using a cool air blow dryer. Make sure he doesn't get too hot during this process. Many dogs LOVE this and the combination of blow-drying your dog and brushing is a very effective way to removing loose or dead hair.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you is on our is "Grooming Your Dog" and "Pruritus" (Itching in Dog)

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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