After a long day at work, your bed looks incredibly appealing, right? But it does lose its appeal when you lay back onto a wet patch where your dog has been licking it! But why do dogs even do this, and is it a cause for concern? Here is everything you are going to want to know.
So, why does my dog lick my bed? Your dog could simply be licking your bed because he likes the taste and smell of it! However, if the behavior becomes more frequent, it could be a sign of stress or the result of an underlying medical condition. If you are worried, especially if your dog is showing additional symptoms such as increased vocalizations, then it is best to seek advice from your vet.
It may seem like very odd behavior to us, but a dogs’ tongue is an incredibly important sensory organ that aids his sense of smell, so licking materials is actually completely normal behavior for dogs!
Saying that this particular behavior can become a nuisance – especially if it is the result of them doing it for enjoyment.
And if this is the case, then you will need to train him to redirect the behavior towards items of his own
But always remember, it could actually be a symptom of a number of medical conditions if it is performed on a regular basis.
So you do need to be careful, mindful, and vigilant.
You will need to watch your dog closely and be patient to identify the cause.
Read on to find out in much greater detail why your dog may be licking your bed and what you can do about it.
Why Does My Dog Lick The Bed Sheets?
Dogs lick everything, including your bed sheets, because their tongues are a big part of their primary sense – smell. It is likely that your dog is licking to analyze the area, get a taste of something (like sweat or from a scent). Alternatively, it could be a behavioral issue or a sign of loneliness/illness in your dog.
Although dogs can see in color, their visual capabilities are still limited compared to ours.
Conversely, dogs have over 200 million olfactory receptors, whereas humans only have 5 million!
Dogs have a unique organ known as a Jacobson’s Organ, or vomeronasal organ, that is located at the back of the nasal cavity just above the roof of the mouth.
This organ has two fluid-filled sacs that detect chemicals and pheromones in scents that your dog smells, which are then relayed to the brain.
This organ also enables your dog to taste and smell simultaneously.
A dog’s tongue can pick up distinct tastes such as sweet, bitter, or salty, which helps your dog to assess whether an item is edible.
Interestingly, most plants that are toxic to dogs taste bitter, which is a good indication that they are inedible!
When you sleep in your bed, dead skin cells will gather on the bed sheets, which taste salty – a much more appealing taste to a dog!
Although licking is normal behavior for dogs, there are situations where licking can become a compulsive habit. Whether sheets or otherwise.
There are several reasons for this, so let’s run through them now:
As social animals, dogs are prone to suffering from separation anxiety if they are left alone for long periods.
In cases like this, excessive licking of your bed sheets could be your dog’s way of soothing his anxiety.
Anxious dogs may also exhibit other signs, including vocalizations or destructive behaviors, but this is not always the case.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from some sort of anxiety, you will need to find the root cause and try to remove it.
Your vet can also offer guidance if you are unsure of how to do this.
Dogs are proven to be smart animals, with the ability to learn commands for around 250 words and even solve basic arithmetic problems!
So, it is entirely possible that your dog will lick your bed sheets just to get your attention, especially if he knows that you react every time he does it.
A rigid training schedule is a good idea in situations like this, where positive reinforcement is used rather than negative punishment.
If you own more than one dog, it is also possible that bed licking could be territorial behavior.
Your dog may also lick your bed sheets if his diet is not sufficient for his needs.
If dogs are not fed enough, or their diet is vitamin deficient, they will instinctively search elsewhere for the vitamins they are lacking.
If you find your dog has started licking your bedsheets after you have recently switched him to a new diet, he may be suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort.
This could mean that your dog has an intolerance to one or more of the ingredients in the food you are offering, especially if you also notice excessive salivation.
In this situation, licking other items is your dog’s way of soothing his discomfort.
Although not overly common in dogs, certain canines can develop compulsive disorders, particularly after prolonged periods of stress.
A dog may be suffering from a compulsive disorder when he is performing normal doggy behaviors much more frequently.
These behaviors will also appear to be more frenzied, as if they are increasing your dogs’ stress level rather than reducing it.
Obsessive-compulsive disorders can be difficult to stop once they have become a habit, so it is best to seek the advice of a vet or a pet behaviorist if you are concerned.
Lack Of Mental Stimulation
A bored dog can often become a destructive dog!
If a dog does not receive enough exercise or is lacking mental stimulation such as regular training or through the use of toys and games, he may begin to indulge in more unusual behaviors.
It is important to note that if these behaviors are not dealt with swiftly, they may progress to become obsessive-compulsive behaviors which are harder to treat.
Teething can be incredibly uncomfortable for puppies, so they may end up chewing or licking everything in sign to soothe the pain.
Older dogs can also sometimes suffer from dental problems, which may cause them to lick excessively.
Underlying Medical Conditions
Certain medical issues may cause dogs to lick your bedsheets or other items.
These include gastrointestinal issues, liver disease, and toxicity after ingesting a toxic substance.
If you are concerned, then you must speak to your vet as soon as possible to get your dog checked out.
Pica is another possible cause, which is often caused by stress, or it could be the result of a medical issue.
This condition is characterized by the compulsive need to eat inedible items such as plastic and even drywall.
This can be incredibly dangerous for your dog if inedible items are eaten in excessive amounts, so speak to your vet immediately if your dog is showing any signs of Pica.
It is worth mentioning that licking your bed sheets may cause your dog to accidentally ingest strands of the fabric.
This can be very dangerous if large amounts are ingested over time, as the material can cause intestinal blockages.
So, what can you do to stop your dog from repeatedly licking your bedsheets?
How To Stop Your Dog From Licking Your Bed
Perhaps the easiest way to prevent your dog from licking the bed sheets is to restrict his access to your bedroom. Alternatively, you can try to redirect this behavior by leading him to his own bed and then offering a treat as a form of positive reinforcement.
However, that’s not the end of the process!
If the root cause of your dog’s excessive licking behavior is down to boredom or stress, you will need to put in the extra effort to interact more with your dog.
This could be in the form of extra walks, longer periods of playtime, or extra cuddles.
Your aim here is to alleviate the cause, which will result in a happier and calmer dog!
The more energy you can burn off with these additional activities, the less likely he will be to dive at your bed sheets again!
Additional training can be very beneficial in these situations too.
Use the ‘leave it’ command whenever he goes to lick your bed, but be careful not to punish your dog as this could make the situation worse and increase his anxiety.
If you are struggling to reduce the frequency of bed licking or any other unwanted behavior, it may be beneficial for you to contact a local dog behaviorist who can help diagnose the issue and offer further guidance.
Giving your dog access to chewable toys like Kongs or rope toys can also help, but do make sure that you rotate toys on a regular basis, so he doesn’t become bored with those too!
Heading over to Amazon and taking a look at their extensive range of toys can help give inspiration for new toys to try!
Review Diet and Nutrition
If you suspect your dogs’ bed licking is due to a vitamin deficiency, then you will need to take a close look at his diet and seek the advice of a vet if you are unsure.
There are a number of crucial vitamins that all dogs require to remain healthy.
However, also bear in mind that nutritional requirements can vary slightly between dog breeds and will also vary throughout the different stages of a dog’s life.
For instance, smaller dog breeds require more calories per kilo compared to larger dog breeds.
Puppies also have different dietary requirements compared to adult dogs. Dietary deficiencies in dogs are surprisingly common, with the most common deficiencies being:
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Vitamin E deficiency
- Vitamin B2 deficiency (Riboflavin)
With so many options for dog food on the market, it’s perhaps no surprise that the nutritional values of each type can vary widely too.
So it is important to do your research to ensure you have the best type for your dog.
A vet can also offer guidance based on your dog’s individual needs.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from a vitamin deficiency, do not make the mistake of immediately switching him to a new diet.
Dogs have fairly delicate stomachs, so this kind of immediate switch may lead to digestive issues.
Instead, change his diet incrementally over a period of a couple of weeks to help his body adjust to the change.
Contact Your Vet
As discussed above, there are a number of medical conditions that can cause your dog to seek comfort by licking your bed sheets.
Gastrointestinal disease is common in dogs and is characterized by an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
This group of illnesses can often cause abdominal pain, which can cause your dog to attempt to soothe himself by indulging in abnormal behaviors.
You may even notice that your dog is losing weight and suffering from diarrhea.
If you have exhausted all of the possible behavioral causes of bed licking, you may need to take your dog to the vet to assess whether there is an underlying medical condition causing the unwanted behavior.
Dogs lick bed sheets and blankets for all different kinds of reasons.
It’s like digging the bed; it’s all a little confusing.
Besides, dogs can be hard to read.
So much so that it can be really challenging to find out why for licking specifically and what is the right strategy to implement to help reduce it.
While limiting access is perhaps the easiest and most simple approach, it does not always get to the root cause.
And you must realize that it’s not always just random behavior – it can indicate something is wrong.
So, do closely monitor your dog.
Try to identify when they lick, what they lick exactly, and how long for.
Perhaps this will help.
But if ever in doubt or you see other signs or symptoms that something is not quite right in your dog, contact your vet.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Have you noticed some other questionable behaviors from your dog? The following guides may help to explain them!
- Why Does My Dog Dig On My Bed?
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys Off The Bed?
- Why Does My Dog Scratch The Floor?
- Why Do Dogs Dig Holes And Lay In Them?
- Why Does My Dog Lick Me After Eating?
- Why Does My Dog Lick Me When We Cuddle?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.