Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets? (12 Reasons + Solutions)
There isn’t much that can compare to the love and devotion you get from a pet dog! In my opinion, it simply cannot be matched by any other animal on earth.
Every dog owner will tell you that, despite their inability to talk to us, dogs love to tell their owners ‘I love you’ by pleasing and showing us affection.
And while all dogs are lovable, some also have strange behaviors such as being particular about the time of day they eat.
Though a lot of these oddities are just the way some dogs are, if you can, try to figure out what is making your good girl behave so strangely; it might be a sign she’s sick or injured. Of course, there’s always the possibility that it’s nothing, too!
So what about dogs that can’t stop licking blankets? Why do dogs lick blankets? Like so many things with dogs, there isn’t one answer for why every dog licks blankets. If your dog is licking blankets, it is probably because of one or more of these reasons:
- Comforting Themselves
- Showing Affection
- Like Licking Blankets
- Stress And Anxiety
- Smells And Tastes Good
- You (Accidentally) Trained Her To
- Pica or Nutritional Deficiency
- Picked Up The Behavior From Other Dogs
- Gastrointestinal Problems
- Medical Conditions
Nothing Else To Do
Some dogs just don’t have anything else to do. And when they feel bored or restless they will turn to something odd like licking blankets as a way to pass the time. If your dog is doing this, try giving her more toys and things to keep her occupied, like puzzle toys that dispense treats. You might also want to increase the amount of exercise she gets every day.
If the blankets your dog is licking are something you frequently use, like your bedding, it could be she’s seeking comfort. In her ideal world, your dog would seek comfort from you directly but if for some reason, your dog can’t, your blankets will be a good substitute.
Whether you aren’t home when she licks your blankets or you don’t let her lick you or for some other reason, your dog has decided licking your blanket for comfort is the next best thing to getting comforted by you.
Affection For You
Some dogs will lick blankets to show their owners how much they love them. If your dog only licks blankets when you are snuggling in them, this might likely be the case with your pooch. After all, the licking is not about her, but about you! Though it’s gross, be comforted by the fact that your dog loves you and wants to make sure you know it!
Your Dog Likes Licking Blankets
It seems that some dogs are attracted to the taste or texture of blankets…so, they tend to lick blankets for that reason. While this may seem like a simple answer, remember that oftentimes the simplest answer is the right one.
Coping With Stress And Anxiety
For some dogs, licking blankets is a way to cope with stress and anxiety. This could be because the act of licking releases endorphins that make them feel good, or because the blanket smells like you and provides them with some sense of security.
If your dog seems to be licking blankets more when she’s feeling anxious or stressed, try to provide her with a safe space, like a crate or bed, that she can go to when she’s feeling overwhelmed. You might also want to look into dog anxiety medications or natural remedies.
Your Blankets Smell And Taste Good
It could be quite possible that your blankets taste fantastic to your dog for some reason or another. Dogs have a different idea of what tastes yummy than we do…or maybe we humans are just picky!
Your dog could think your blanket tastes good because it smells like you (if you’ve been sleeping in it or sitting on it), or because there’s food on it or your dog might like the scent of your detergent.
If this is why your dog is licking blankets, try to keep them clean and free of any strong smells.
Training (By Mistake)
It’s possible that you accidentally trained your dog to lick blankets by giving her attention or other rewards when she did it. This could be because you laughed, pet her, or gave her a treat when she licked the blanket.
Dogs will quickly pick up on what behaviors they are rewarded for and learn to do them more often to get more of those tasty treats and comforting head pats.
Pica Or Nutritional Deficiency
In some rare cases, dogs lick blankets because they have a condition called pica, which causes them to crave and eat non-food items. It could also be because they’re lacking certain nutrients in their diet, or because they have an underlying medical condition.
If you think this might be why your dog is licking blankets, take her to the vet to rule out any medical causes and to get some advice on what to do about it.
Learned The Behavior From Other Dogs
Personally, I love having more than one dog. Not only do they keep each other entertained when I’m busy but I get twice the loves when I do have time to play with them. Having said that though, there is the drawback of my dogs teaching each other bad or odd habits.
This could be why your dog is licking blankets too. If she has a friend that licks blankets, she might have just picked up the behavior from them, even if the original blanket licker no longer lives with you or has stopped the behavior altogether.
Your dog could be licking blankets because she’s experiencing some gastrointestinal problems. Though the name might sound silly, excessive licking of surfaces (ELS) is a real thing. Basically, while your dog licks she’ll get some relief from whatever is ailing her digestive system.
It’s possible that your dog is just licking blankets because it’s a habit or compulsion. Your dog might have had a good reason to lick blankets when she first started but now she just does it because it’s something she’s used to doing. If this is the case, you might want to try giving her something else and work on redirecting her with some basic training and commands.
In some cases, dogs lick blankets because they have a medical problem that’s causing them to do it. In addition to anemia and cancer, licking blankets can be a symptom of other illnesses as well.
Before you panic and start thinking that your dog has a major medical problem of some sort, make sure none of the other reasons I’ve covered is why your dog is licking blankets.
If you think this might be why your dog is licking blankets, make an appointment with your veterinarian. They’ll be able to ask you more specific questions, run some tests and help you figure out what’s going on.
Is It Okay For Dogs To Lick Blankets?
There are a few questions that need to be answered before I can say if it is okay for your dog to lick blankets. First, you need to rule out medical issues as being the cause of your dog’s licking. Next, you need to make sure your dog isn’t damaging the blankets when she licks. And finally, you and your family need to be okay with your dog licking blankets.
If you’re certain your dog’s blanket licking isn’t a symptom of a medical issue, your dog isn’t damaging your blankets and you’re fine with the behavior, then it is okay. However, if any of these things aren’t true then it isn’t okay for your dog to be licking blankets.
I know if either of my dogs made a habit out of blanket licking I wouldn’t be okay with it. No matter how much I love my dogs, I still find their mouths and saliva to be gross. No way would I want Bella’s or Duke’s slobber on a blanket I was about to use! Yuck!
How To Stop My Dog From Licking Blankets?
If you’re like me, you’ll want to put an end to your dog’s blanket-licking ways as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are quite a few effective methods. Obviously, you’ll need to first figure out the reason your dog is behaving this way so you can fine-tune your approach to be successful as quickly as possible.
Commands like ‘no’ and ‘leave it’ can help get your dog to stop licking blankets. If you catch her in the act, give the command firmly but do not shout. You can also pair the command with a hand gesture, like holding your hand up as if to say ‘stop’.
If she does stop licking when you give the command, make sure to praise and/or reward her! This will let her know she did what you wanted and she’ll be more likely to do to follow the command when you give it again. And more importantly, she’ll eventually quit licking blankets!
If your dog is a compulsive licker, you’ll need to find ways to distract her from the behavior. This might include giving her a chew toy, playing fetch, or going for a walk. It really depends on what gets and keeps your dog’s attention.
The important thing is that you need to be proactive in finding things to distract your dog so she doesn’t have a chance to start licking blankets.
Exercise (Physical And Mental)
One of my favorite sayings (because I’ve tried it and it’s true!) about dogs is: ‘A tired dog is a good dog’. If your dog has used up most of her energy running around or playing with a puzzle toy, then she’s less likely to have the energy or desire to start licking blankets or doing other undesirable things.
This is why it’s important to make sure your dog is getting enough exercise, both physical and mental. If she isn’t given an outlet for her energy, she’ll start finding other ways to use it…like licking blankets!
Don’t Reward The Licking
If you give your dog positive attention when she’s licking blankets, she’ll think it’s something you want her to do. Even if you’re just trying to get her to stop licking the blanket in a playful way she’ll think you’re rewarding her for the behavior, which will likely lead to more licking!
Make Sure You’re Feeding Your Dog A Good Diet
A healthy diet is important for all dogs, but it can be especially helpful if your dog has issues like blanket licking. Oftentimes, if your dog is lacking nutrition she’ll start licking things as a way to get the nutrients she needs.
If you’re unsure whether or not your dog is getting all the nutrients she needs, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you determine if you need to make any changes to her diet.
Talk To Your Vet
If you’ve tried all of the above and your dog is still licking blankets, it’s time to talk to your veterinarian. They can help determine if there is a medical reason for the behavior and provide you with more information on how to stop it.
Keep Your Dog Away From Blankets
As a last resort, or if you’re making progress but it’s moving too slowly, you may need to keep your dog away from blankets altogether. This might mean keeping her in a different room when you’re not home or putting a gate up to block her access to the area where the blankets are kept.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets?
There are many reasons why dogs might lick blankets, including because they think the blanket tastes good because they’re trained to do it (by mistake), or because of a medical condition.
If your dog is licking blankets, make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes.
If there is no medical reason, then you can start working on training your dog not to lick blankets. This might include commands, distraction, exercise, and/or a change in diet. If all else fails, you may need to keep your dog away from blankets altogether.
With a little patience and perseverance, you can get your dog to stop licking blankets! Just find the method that works best for you and your pup and stick with it.