So, you’re walking your dog and it’s a nice sunny day. All of a sudden, your dog stops, looks at the sidewalk, and starts licking it.
That’s weird; they’ve never done that before!
Now you’re full of questions. Why does my dog lick the sidewalk? Is my dog sick? Could it be a symptom of some sort of physical or mental deficiency?
In this post, we’ll show why your dog has adopted this weird habit and what you can do to help.
Let’s check out what makes the sidewalk so appealing to your dog:
When a dog’s diet lacks necessary vitamins, they search for them elsewhere.
This might be weird, but your dog could be licking sidewalks because the concrete has vitamins they might be missing in their diet.
While concrete should definitely not be licked, it still contains several minerals and vitamins.
In this case, you need to visit the vet to see if your dog is lacking some vitamins or minerals and figure out how you can offer them a balanced diet.
What if your dog’s diet isn’t lacking in terms of vitamins, though?
If that’s the case, you might need to change how much food you’re giving your dog. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving them more food, although you might want to check if that’ll help.
Your dog might just be hungry and there’s food on the sidewalk. After all, people throw food on the streets all the time. Who would say no to free food?
We know what you’re thinking, though; you don’t want your dog eating off the floor.
You can always divide their regular meal into two small portions and give it to them at different times throughout the day. This way, your dog will get less hungry.
A balanced diet, combined with the consistency of two meals a day, can stop your dog from licking the sidewalk.
If your dog licks the sidewalk too frequently, you might be looking at a digestion issue. It’s called Excessive Licking of Surfaces (ESL).
In one study, researchers examined 19 dogs with ESL symptoms for gastrointestinal issues, and 14 were diagnosed with a specific digestion issue.
With proper GI treatment, many of these dogs were completely cured of ESL, and one dog had their symptoms significantly reduced.
But why lick the floor? Wouldn’t that make their stomach issues worse?
When dogs lick the floor, both their mouths and tongues move at the same time. The movement increases their ability to make saliva, which makes it easier for them to throw up and eases the pain of the acid in their stomach.
So, the next time you see your dog obsessively licking the concrete, you might want to take them to the vet and check for stomach issues.
Yes, dogs can have mental health issues. Just like humans, life changes can affect dogs’ mental health.
Maybe you recently moved and your dog isn’t used to the new environment yet. Maybe you got a new pet and your dog is worried you’ll give them less attention and love.
In these anxiety-inducing events, dogs can exhibit displacement behavior, an action that animals take under stressful pressure.
Licking the concrete might be your dog’s way of relieving that stress. It’s the dog equivalent of biting your nails when you’re nervous.
Try to see if the licking is associated with specific triggers.
Since we’re talking about licking the sidewalk, maybe car noises or traffic are making your dog nervous.
Licking helps dogs’ brains release dopamine and endorphins, which help soothe stress and anxiety.
If your dog licks the sidewalk only when your friends are walking them, they might have separation anxiety.
Dogs love being with their owners. If your dog isn’t used to being away from you, especially now when a lot of people are working from home, they might get anxious if you leave them with a relative or a friend.
In that case, keep them by your side for all eternity, and they’ll be fine.
You know how, when you’re bored, you try doing things you wouldn’t normally do?
They’re not necessarily the smartest actions you’ll take, but you take them out of boredom. The same thing can happen with dogs.
Your dogs need mental stimulation. You have to provide them with a challenging environment that brings out their intelligence.
If there isn’t, can you guess what will happen?
Exactly! They’ll resort to doing things they wouldn’t normally do, like chewing furniture or licking weird things.
In a state of boredom, even licking concrete can pique dogs’ interest. Think of it as their way of staying active and killing boredom.
Your dog can also be experiencing Pica.
Pica is a medical condition where your dog has the urge to ingest non-food objects. These non-food objects can vary from dirt to concrete.
Yes, this disease can make your dog compulsively lick the concrete sidewalk.
While there are physical causes for Pica, like parasites, it’s often associated with mental health issues, like stress and boredom.
Curiosity killed the cat, and it can also hurt your dog.
Just because your dog is doing something doesn’t mean there’s a logical reason behind it. After all, animals have a huge sense of curiosity.
Your dog might be licking the sidewalk because they’re interested to see how concrete will taste or how the texture will feel in their mouth.
Dogs do that all the time. They chew and lick random objects in the house, like toys and clothes.
We do agree it’s not a healthy way to feed their curiosity, though.
So, the next time you ask yourself, “Why does my dog lick the sidewalk?” Think of everything we covered in this post.
Look at their diet. Maybe they’re not getting all the nutrients they need. Bring your to the vet and see if they’re having digestion problems. If that’s not the case, check for their mental well-being.
If you’ve checked all of these points, and your dog turned out to be fine, keep in mind they might be doing it out of curiosity.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.