Great Danes lick for several normal reasons, however, it is quite concerning when you notice it frequently.
So, why do Great Danes lick so much? Is it normal or not?
Let’s delve into the reasons behind Great Dane excessive licking, when to worry and when to seek help.
Why do Great Danes lick so much?
Excessive Great Dane licking can happen due to an underlying medical or behavioral issue which includes pain, dehydration, nausea, allergies, bloat, canine cognitive dysfunction, fear, anxiety, boredom, excitement, hunger and attention seeking behavior.
A Great Dane may lick their legs, paws, or other areas of their body excessively if they have these underlying problems.
Causes of licking in Great Danes
When a Great Dane experiences pain, it can be displayed in various ways, including excessive licking.
Excessive licking can be a sign of pain in dogs. When a Great Dane is in pain, they may experience anxiety, stress, and discomfort and licking is a self-soothing behavior that helps them cope with these feelings.
While licking is a sign of pain in dogs, not all dogs will show this sign and some may not show any signs at all of being in pain.
Dehydration is a condition in which a dog’s body loses more fluids than it takes in. It can occur when a dog does not drink enough water, loses fluids through excessive panting or sweating, or experiences diarrhea or vomiting.
When a Great Dane is dehydrated, it can lead to a number of symptoms, including excessive licking.
A Great Dane may also become more irritable or easily agitated due to their thirst and discomfort.
Licking lips is a sign of dehydration in dogs. A dehydrated Great Dane’s mouth feels dry and uncomfortable and they turn to licking their lips as a self-soothing behavior to help moisten their mouth and provide some relief from their thirst.
Other signs of dehydration in dogs include lethargy, dry gums, sunken eyes, and loss of skin elasticity.
Nausea is another cause of licking in dogs, especially lip licking. Nausea is a common problem that can be caused by different factors, including motion sickness, gastrointestinal issues, and certain medications.
Nausea can also cause a dog to show other signs of discomfort, such as painting, drooling, and pacing. These behaviors are a dog’s attempt to find relief from the discomfort that they are feeling.
Licking in dogs is a natural response to the discomfort a Great Dane feels when nauseous or unwell. This behavior is a way for them to relieve the discomfort they are feeling in their stomachs or throats.
Allergies or skin irritations
Great Danes may lick if they are experiencing allergic reactions or skin irritations to things like food, environmental allergens, or medications.
These reactions can cause itching, which can lead to excessive licking. Licking can provide temporary relief from itchiness and discomfort caused by these irritants.
Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a serious medical condition in Great Danes that causes licking especially lip-licking among other symptoms.
Bloat occurs when a Great Dane’s stomach becomes distended with gas and twists on itself, cutting off the blood supply to the stomach and other organs. It is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.
Other symptoms of bloat include pacing, excessive drooling, abdominal distention, and difficulty breathing.
Canine cognitive dysfunction
Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), also known as dog dementia, and similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, is a condition that causes licking as one of the symptoms.
The condition is a degenerative brain disorder that affects older dogs including Great Danes and is characterized by changes in cognitive function, which includes memory loss, disorientation, and changes in behavior.
Licking is a way for the dog to self-soothe and cope with this confusion, anxiety, and stress.
Other symptoms of CCD in dogs can include pacing, irritability, confusion, changes in sleep patterns, stress and house-soiling.
Stress / Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are common causes of licking in dogs. A Great Dane may become stressed or anxious due to various reasons, including changes in their environment, the presence of unfamiliar people or animals, or a traumatic event.
Signs of stress and anxiety in Great Danes include pacing, pacing, licking, excessive barking or whining, trembling, hiding, and changes in appetite.
Fear is another potential cause of licking in Great Danes. A Great Dane may become fearful in response to different factors, including unfamiliar people or animals, loud noises, or changes in their environment.
Signs of fear can include pacing, pacing, lip-licking, trembling, hiding, and changes in behavior.
Boredom can also cause licking. Great Danes require mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy.
When they do not get enough stimulation, they become bored and start showing destructive or certain behaviors, such as pacing and licking.
A Great Dane’s licking can also be due to excitement in response to different situations such as the presence of their favorite toys or treats, a chance to play or go for a walk, or when they see their owner.
A Great Dane may lick their lips in excitement as well as their owner.
Other signs of excitement include, pacing, barking or whining, and wagging of the tail.
While excitement is a normal and healthy response in Great Danes, it is important to monitor your dog’s behavior and make sure that it does not become excessive or due to another underlying problem.
When Great Danes are hungry, they may start licking their lips as a way to signal their need for food.
Licking is a sign of excitement in anticipation of receiving food or treats, especially the licking of lips, which can be triggered by the sight or smell of food.
Attention seeking behavior
Great Danes are social animals that crave interaction and attention from their owners. If they are not getting enough attention, they may start exhibiting certain behaviors, such as pacing and licking, as a way to get their owner’s attention.
Other attention-seeking behaviors include whining, pawing, nudging, barking, or jumping up on their owner.
Also, if your Great Dane has learned that engaging in certain behavior will result in a positive response from their owner, they may continue to engage in this behavior to get the attention they want.
Therefore this can result in learned behavior such as licking as an attention-seeking behavior.
The underlying cause of a Great Dane licking so much can be due to a serious and life-threatening condition which can worsen if left untreated.
Bloat, dehydration, pain, and nausea due to illness are all serious conditions that severely affect a Great Dane’s health and can lead to fatal outcomes.
Therefore life-threatening complications can arise from excessive Great Dane licking.
Great Dane licking: What to do and when to seek help
Licking commonly occurs in Great Danes due to normal reasons such as excitement, hunger and usually these do not require medical attention. Therefore here is what you should do:
Determine the cause
First, keep a close eye on your Great Dane’s behavior and evaluate if it is due to anxiety, fear, excitement, or hunger which are normal behaviors and responses to stimuli that you can address.
- Make sure that your Great Dane’s basic needs are met which includes ensuring they have enough food and water.
- If you suspect that your Great Dane’s licking is due to stress or anxiety, try to identify the cause and address it. This involves removing the stressor or providing your dog with additional support and resources to help them cope.
- If your Great Dane is showing fear-related behavior, try to identify the cause and remove them from the stressor. This includes providing your Great Dane with a safe and comfortable environment, using calming aids, and engaging in training or behavior modification to help your dog cope in situations that induce fear.
- If your Great Dane is bored, it is important to increase the amount of mental and physical stimulation activities that they receive daily.
Consult your veterinarian
If you are unable to identify the potential cause of your Great Dane‘s licking or if the behavior persists, consult with your veterinarian. This is because the behavior can be due to an underlying health condition.
The veterinarian will conduct a full examination, determine the underlying cause, and develop a more comprehensive plan to address your dog’s behavior.
If it is a behavioral problem, they will also guide you on ways to stop the behavior and they may also recommend an animal behaviorist for training needs.
A veterinarian also should be consulted regarding your dog’s licking when:
The behavior is new or sudden: If your Great Dane’s licking are sudden or out of character, it could be a sign that there’s an underlying medical issue.
The behavior is accompanied by other signs of illness: If your Great Dane is exhibiting other signs of illness or discomfort, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or changes in bowel or bladder habits, seek veterinary care.
The behavior is persistent: Also talk to your veterinarian if your dog is licking continues despite your efforts to address the behavior.
Key Takeaway: Great Dane licking so much
Licking is common in dogs and in most cases for normal reasons however, sometimes it can occur alongside other behavioral or medical signs that indicate something may be wrong.
A Great Dane that is licking excessively can also be an indication of an underlying problem. It is important to contact your veterinarian when this happens.
The veterinarian will be able to determine the underlying cause of licking and provide the necessary treatment or management.