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Why do dogs lick?

Updated: Apr 1

There are many opinions about why dogs lick and whether it is dangerous? Let's find out.

Why do dogs lick human body parts?

To understand this well, we need to be familiar with dogs and their past habits. Dogs and gray wolves descend from common ancestor. As you may know from the nature documentaries, mother wolf leaves their lair for hunting after cubs are weaned. While mother is hunting, cubs stay in the lair since they are not grown enough to discover outside, but yet grown enough to eat solid food. When mother come back to lair after hunting, cubs are gather around her and start to lick their mother’s mouth area. This movement stimulates the mother's vomiting reflex. Mother starts to vomit the food she hunt and eat, then cubs eat the food that their mother vomit. This is an instinctive behavior and dogs’ behaviour of licking our mouth area is the result of this instinct.

Another reason is that dogs' senses are sometimes shaped by licking. Dogs have an organ called vomeronasal which combine smell and taste in brain. As a result, dogs sometimes lick to taste and sniff to smell so that it can combine and analyze the senses in brain. This fact lead them to lick our body parts, especially places where our body secretion is intense such as hands and foot.

Third reason is that sometimes licking can be a way of communication for dogs. As a herd psychology, it can be dog’s way of wanting something or asking permission.

Are dog licks hygienic?

Dog licks is not a dangerous move that can cause an infection. Medical researches are shown that kissing a person is 20 times more dangerous then licked by a dog in terms of infection. Oral flora of human generally have more bacteria than dogs’ oral flora, which makes dogs’ oral flora more hygienic. You can use pet supplies for dental health to keep your dog’s mouth healthy. You can visit The Petship’s dental health products here.

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