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Canine Library: General

Compulsive Licking

Epilepsy and anxiety can cause such behaviors.

Dogs can develop obsessive/compulsive behaviors such as compulsive licking and sucking, sometimes associated with poor socialization, anxiety or other problems. A certified behaviorist can help with strictly behavioral problems. But you would want to eliminate any physical or medical reasons for these actions first. For instance, focal epilepsy often has bizarre manifestations, including "fly biting," flank sucking, rage and aggression, and blindness, depending on the area of the brain affected. Routine blood screening and urinalysis should be done to rule out any obvious disease process. If nothing shows up, your veterinarian might want to try the dog on a short trial of anti-seizure medication to see if that helps. If no response is seen, a referral to a behavioral specialist might be in order.

Author(s): Wilcox, Bonnie, D.V.M.
Publication: Dog Fancy
Issue Date: June 1996


Canine Library: General