Why Cocker Spaniels Lick


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Licking is natural behavior going all the way back to the wolf. When the mother wolf would return from hunting its food the pups in her pack would lick her mouth and face to stimulate regurgitation.

 This is a normal behavior during the weaning stages. Soon after the pups join in and learn to hunt for their own food. Interesting enough the mother wolf would also lick her pups in return to stimulate the pups to relieve themselves.

It is not surprising to learn that licking is a natural instinct that all dogs inherit. There are different types of licking behaviors and as many reasons why dogs lick for daily routines and well as survival.

Should a Cocker Spaniel's Licking Cause Concern?

There are many jokes about city folks visiting their relatives who live in villages. In a popular story, the city people were not very enthralled about the not so clean plates served at meals.

Before every meal, seeing the looks on their faces, the host used to say, "Cold Water can clean them only that much."

After a couple of days, they see a dog licking plates from the last meal. The host informs, "Meet Cold Water, our Cocker Spaniel."

Jokes apart, let us first understand that we are discussing Cocker Spaniels licking their own body parts. Why Cocker Spaniels lick is a favorite topic among dog enthusiasts.

First-time owners of Cocker Spaniels find it very intriguing when the notice the cocker spaniel licking paws excessively.

The temperament of the Breed

It is the primordial nature of canines to lick. The pedigree of Cocker Spaniels makes them want to lick all the more. But why cocker spaniels lick?

The basic characteristics of cocker spaniels are quite interesting. Of course, most dog enthusiasts should be aware that there are an American species and a British genus.

Both are hunting dogs specialized in catching woodcocks found abundantly on both sides of the Atlantic. The breed is best known for its sweet disposition among other unique traits.

i. They are very intelligent.
ii. They are family dogs.
iii. It is very easy to train a cocker spaniel.
iv. They are prone to separation anxiety.
v. They enjoy being around people.
vi. Being a hunting breed, they need regular exercise.
vii. A household environment suits a cocker spaniel the most.

That being said, it should be clearly understood by all cocker spaniel owners that they have a very sensitive nature. This has to be taken into account while training them during any stage of growth.

Harsh training methods leave a cocker spaniel with mood swings and loss of trust. 

Good dog trainers use encouragement coupled with positive reinforcement to train this species

Is cocker Spaniels' Licking a Cause for Worry?

The answer depends on the normal habits of the dog. You need to show concern only if the licking routine has increased or diminished considerably.

A responsible owner can do a few things if you notice that your cocker spaniel licks its paws than usual. 

1. Inspect whether there are any wounds.
2. Check for ticks or other parasites.
3. Try to pet and find out if there are any mood swings.
4. Check for any health issues like wheezing or difficulty in breathing.
5. Find out if the cocker spaniel's licking is to catch your attention.
6. Check for injuries or swelling in the area.
7. They might have dog separation anxiety.

These checks shall ensure that everything is normal for the dog. If the change in habit persists and the cocker spaniel shows uneasiness, he or she may need to be taken to a vet.

Natural Reasons Why a Dog Keeps Licking Paws

Most dogs are known to lick their wounds until they heal. Always check for an injury when you find a dog licking a particular area regularly.

If it is only a nick or a scratch it will heal on its own. Depending upon the nature of the injury you can use canine antiseptic applications.

Take your pet to a vet if the wound persists even after giving care and attention. There are a number of other reasons why cocker spaniels lick.

Licking Themselves

·        Illnesses as mentioned above. Besides licking wounds, injuries to body parts, and certain internal diseases like parasites can cause a cocker spaniel to lick its body.

·        All dogs lick themselves to cleanse their body.
·        A cocker spaniel displays anxiety by licking themselves.
·        Fleas can be an annoying cause that makes a dog lick and nip its body.
·        A change of its usual diet may not go down well with a dog. Cocker spaniels licking incessantly can be a direct result of the new diet.
Licking Others

Cocker Spaniels lick other people and objects due to a variety of reasons.

·        They show their love by licking. It is a human equivalent of a kiss in the right context.

·        When a cocker spaniel licks its owner, it can mean that it needs something or is trying to convey a message. 

·        It can also be traced back to their primal origins. In a pack, licking another dog is considered as submissive behavior.

·        When a cocker spaniel feels depressed it gets comfort from the smell and taste of its owner.

Quick Fixes

If you can identify correctly the reason that causes your cocker spaniel licking its body, it can be attended to at home itself.

Unless you are very sure that your amateur diagnosis is correct, please don't attempt and go straight to a vet.

These quick fixes are only if the dog is licking itself due to itching. Itching can be identified if it scratches a lot besides licking. An itch can be a direct result of fleas or a skin condition.

Allergies and certain fungal infections too can cause itching.

After correctly identifying the cause of the itch, one of the below solutions shall remedy the irritation.

Possible solutions to excessive licking
i. Creams that contain hydrocortisone can be applied to particular spots that are itchy.
ii. Cleaning the insides of the ears is a great relief to dogs. Exudate and debris trapped inside the ears cause a lot of irritation and itching. An ear solution that contains hydrocortisone can solve the issue.
iii. A Ph balanced mild shampoo not only stops the itching but also nourishes your cocker spaniel's coat.  
iv. Application of a good conditioner that contains the LP3 enzyme after shampooing your cocker spaniel is soothing for its itchy skin.

It is not unusual for animals to nip, lick, and scratch their bodies when faced with allergic conditions. In the case of a cocker spaniel, allergies can lead to the following conditions:

Possible allergies that can lead to excessive licking
1. Hot spots.
2. Ear infections.
3. Itchy skin. 
4. Yeast overgrowth.

Most of these allergies can be managed through proper diagnosis and care.

 With that said it's important to point out that you should never let a dog lick your open wounds.This could increase the risk for infection by introducing pathogenic bacteria to the wound.

Despite of what you may have heard, the possible transmitting of a disease or infection by a dog licking an open wound should be avoided.

As long as your Cocker Spaniel is healthy and shows no signs of illness it is safe to bet that playful licking is not harmful unless you are ticklish. At worst it can be very annoying; at best it can be a show of affection.

Always confer with your local Vet or a professional trainer if you feel your pup has a licking issue beyond your control.

Compulsive - Obsessive licking behaviors are often linked to a dog feeling anxious for some reason. Your Vet or a professional dog trainer can help you figure out the source and offer remedies. No need to have your pup suffer needlessly and stress yourself out at the same time.

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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