Is Your Dog Always Licking?

(A recent study has shown that ELS (Excessive licking of surfaces) is a telltale sign of gut disease in dogs.)

If your dog seems obsessed with licking objects…and themselves, they could have ELS, which is usually accompanied by inflamed skin, hot spots, and or acral lick dermatitis.

Veterinarians usually tell owners they have an obsessive-compulsive habit like OCD, but holistic veterinarians have known for years that animals that lick like this almost always have GI issues.

A recent Canadian study showed the ELS is indeed very often health-related rather than behavioral and that almost 75% of dogs with ELS has some form of GI disease. (University of Montreal Veterinary Teaching Hospital) Identified disorders included:

*Eosinophilic and/or lymphoplasmacytic infiltration of the GI tract

*Delayed gastric emptying

*Irritable bowel syndrome

*Chronic pancreatitis

*Gastric foreign body

*Giardiasis (Giardia)

Hopefully, these findings will motivate more conventional veterinarians to evaluate dogs with ELS for potential GI conditions rather than labeling them as behavioral. Hopefully, any pet parents reading this will consider a diet change and some simple supplements to resolve any and all GI issues.

When I come across a dog with GI disease, I always come from a holistic perspective and do not recommend drugs unless giardia is present, and in that case, recommend treating the pet with Metronidazole.

In my experience, the overuse of antibiotics and corticosteroids in veterinary medicine is the root cause of many GI issues.  Either that or it’s nutritional. And since most veterinarians only get a few hours of nutrition education in vet school, a change in diet is usually not even considered or is one of the last issues addressed.


I highly recommend, whether your pet has GI disorder or not, that you feed a species-appropriate, non-GMO food that is either raw/paleo diet or if a kibble, one that contains the least amount of allergens and includes GUARANTEED live probiotics in it. Life’s Abundance Grain-Free All Life Stages.

Or, better yet, I recommend a species-appropriate, anti-inflammatory diet.

Many people don’t realize the healing modalities also available to them in the form of things such as herbal and essential oils in assisting to create a healthy gut. These can create LONG-TERM change, and also provide good long-term solutions to many syndromes that are diet-related. Canine Digestive Blend.


We also have digestive blends for cats and horses!

Comments (18)

  1. My lab mix, my sweet 8 1/2 yr. old (?) rescue, has been having digestive, licking, excessive panting and weight issues for years. We have gone to many Vets. trying to find
    out what the problem is and they couldn’t figure it out. Just last week, she wouldn’t eat her breakfast and then started to violently vomit. It came to the point where she
    couldn’t stand anymore, and just layed in the snow dry heaving. We took her to our Vet ASAP, and they ran BW which showed she was having an acute pancreatitis
    episode. Luckily, after IV in office and anti-nausea meds, we were able to take her home. They put her on antibiotics, Pepcid, anti-diarrhea meds. and RX dogfood which she ate for about a week but will no longer touch. We got a version of her Blue Buffalo with a lower fat and protein % and tried to wean her onto that but now she is eating grass on and off and won’t eat until evening. She is totally off of her meds and this is just not her. I just know this has been the problem all along and am just sick about it. I don’t
    trust these Vets. and I want so desperately to help my Bella. I don’t think I can do a raw diet for her, as I am disabled and would be worried I couldn’t keep up with it. I would appreciate any info. or suggestions you could give me. By the way, awesome article, I wish I would have known all of this info. about 6 yrs. ago. Better late than never, and again, I appreciate your help. Maybe this will be the start of a great 2017 for Bella. ?

    Please feel free to email me directly.

    Happy New Year


    January 2, 2017 Reply
    1. You may want to try our Digestive Blend…but it sound like stress to me too…perhaps add the “Anti-Anxiety blend”

      January 19, 2017 Reply
    2. Sorry to hear you are going through this. I DO actually believe you can do a raw diet if you go with a really high quality commercial one. I only use and recommend B.A.R.F World’s multi-mix patties. Its Dr. Ian Billinghurst’s original recipe–the vet who did 40 years of research on raw. You’d love his book “Give your Dog a Bone.” Also, use coupon code #1079 to get 10% off, and also, if you use their autoship feature, you get another $25 off each order. Also, only feed about 1/2 of what is on the bag by weight as that would be for a highly active dog. By then you are down to a VERY affordable raw diet. Learn more here: (Start with the Lamb recipe) And I can tell you from experience, even with dogs with pancreatitis, they bounce back and make a full recovery if put on this diet alone.

      July 31, 2017 Reply
    3. Hi Barb,
      How is Bella doing
      I was so happy to read your message and can relate to it in ways.
      My concerns are with
      Abbey, my mixed lab
      That has many of the
      Same symptoms. She
      Has been diagnosed
      With pancreatitis but
      With no further instruc-ruins in how to treat her.
      Your msg has given me
      Some ideas on what
      Steps to request from
      My vet.
      I am interested to know
      How Bella is feeling and
      What other treatment
      Was recommended?
      Thank you for tour help.

      April 7, 2019 Reply
    4. My dog MiMi same problem but I woke up in the Am and she was druling blood brought her to VCA they took X-rays she had a piece of wire in her stomach but she was licking everything in sight

      August 31, 2019 Reply
  2. Probiotics may help her.

    March 25, 2017 Reply
  3. How would I make up this diet for my dog.

    July 23, 2019 Reply
  4. Lil

    My girl licks started to lick her paws to the point of making the hair on her paws lite brownish ,she’s only 2 & her paws look like she’s an older dog ..Not attractive looking

    August 12, 2019 Reply
  5. Lil

    What is the best home remedies for dog licking front paws?
    I rub her pads every night with refined organic
    Coconut oil ,she loves it & licks away at the coconut oil…
    But what other home remedies can I use to stop her licking of her front paws

    August 12, 2019 Reply
  6. My dog licks and licks and licks the blanket at bedtime, at times her paws and at other times, US! She also is scratching and biting her fur a lot. We thought it was allergies and the vet prescribed Apoquel. That worked for a couple weeks. She is still on the medicine but has went back to these behaviors again. Her food is Blue Buffalo Lamb. I am at a total loss for what to do. Can someone help?

    December 5, 2019 Reply
    1. Hi Robin! Try switching her food, if you haven’t already. Obsessive licking is often a digestive issue! We suggest Lifes Abundance All Life Stages Dog Food: OR the BARF diet: … additionally, consider trying our canine digestive blend: …we hope this helps!

      June 22, 2020 Reply
  7. I have a 7 year old Boston terrier , rescue, who has allergies to chicken and is severely overweight and has anxiety. I cannot do a raw food diet as it is too risky since my husband had a liver transplant. What do you recommend. He eats a lot of grass and seems to have little energy.

    January 6, 2020 Reply
    1. Hi Chantelle! We would recommend this Lifes Abundance dog food for you: …there is no chicken listed in the ingredients. We hope this helps!!

      June 22, 2020 Reply
  8. Please recommend a Dog food for my Maltese Yorky she’s 8 pounds and is continuing licking I keep changing dog food I would love a suggestion a brand name please

    February 23, 2020 Reply
  9. I believe that his digestive system was damaged at the age of four months old because of the lack of awareness and knowledge of the first vet. My boy comes to me to have his tummy rubbed and after he burps he goes away happily and settles down.
    Incidentally I didn’t mention I spread out his full quantity of daily food into five different meals throughout the day. First meal 8am then after his first walk 10am. The next is 3 am, the next 7am then the final one just before bed.

    March 22, 2020 Reply
  10. HI, My 13 year old Maltese is always licking, since we got her at 13 weeks. Several years ago, she got very sick and was down to 4lbs. She had pancreatitis, My Vet said she really thought her GI issues were due to food allergies. Turns out she is allergic to many foods. Both Brown and White rice, Both white and sweet potatoes, several meats too like venison and fowl. Beef and Lamb were ok, and as time has gone on and she got better, back to 7.5 lbs., the lamb seemed to be too rich, so we stayed with beef. She has been on a raw, shelf stable diet for many years: Ziwi Peak Beef, Vital Essential Beef mini nibs,
    Stella and Chewy’s raw coated Beef Kibble, and Rawbble Beef. These last two foods cause tear staining and create itching where she attacks and chews at places on her legs. But of course she loves them and she poops really well looking on the stella and chewey’s beef raw coated kibble. I believe the ingredients that are causing this additional itching is: pumpkin, Coconut oil, Rosemary extract or
    salmon oil because these are the common ingredients in the two foods. All this time she licks, us, her paws the upholstery, the floors, her beds! The Vet has her on 1/4 tab of metronidazole daily, 1/4 tab pepepcid AC and Denamarin. (the Denamarin is due to her liver numbers, which have improved well on it). Even with all of this, she still licks constantly, her stomach gurgles and squeaks. Sometimes her gas and stomach sounds are so bad I give 1/4 Gas-X tablet. She clearly still has issues, and it is evident that we are barely managing it. I know she is 13, but these are her Golden years and I don’t want her
    suffering anymore. Can you help or suggest anything the Vet and I should do?

    April 30, 2020 Reply
  11. I should also add, that now I cook for my maltese too. I add organic grass fed 93% lean cooked and drained ground beef to her 1/2 amount of one of the dog food listed in my previous comment. She eats twice a day and cooked beef tends to keep her eating. It is due to her pacreatitus that I use organic grass fed lean ground beef and drain it, rinse it with hot water and pat out as much fat as I can.
    i’m looking for help, please!

    April 30, 2020 Reply

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