Nothing is more annoying than right before you start to fall asleep and the Slurp occurs. Yes, your dog has decided to lick themselves while you are trying to fall asleep.
The most logical explanation is that your dog is merely grooming themselves prior to going to sleep. It can be relaxing to the dog. After a hectic day it may be the perfect time to take a bath and get ready for bedtime.
One Theory: It may be attention seeking behavior. Your dog slurps, and you react by giving them attention, even if it is negative attention. That reaction could reinforce the behavior. Praising a dog when he licks your face could lead the dog to associate reward with all forms of licking.
Second Theory: Separation anxiety. If you and your dog sleep apart, the physical separation could trigger licking as a stress reliever. Some theorize that separation anxiety arises from maternal separation. Since the mama dog licks their pups to groom, show affection and stimulate bodily function, self-licking soothes by mimicking that maternal care.
Licking also causes the body to release chemicals called endorphins that promote a sense of calm and comfort.
OTHER THEORIES: Licking can have many causes that could signal a medical or behavioral issue. Fleas and ticks, hormonal imbalance and dry skin can irritate and cause itchiness. Medically, skin disease, especially atopy (immune response to allergens), is at the top of the list. Allergies to food ingredients or environmental elements, such as pollen, mold and dust, could be a factor.
Any condition causing pain, such as arthritis, back problems, cancer, trauma can cause licking.
Stomach disorders casing nausea can result in licking. Obsessive licking in the tail or anal area could mean the anal glands need to be expressed or they have anal itching from a food sensitivity.
Anxiety can cause excessive licking or lip smacking when your dog goes into a new environment or a new person comes around.
Behavioral issues that result in over-grooming can lead to physical problems, including hair loss, yeast and bacterial infections.
If your pet has the slurps before bed have them evaluated by your veterinarian to make sure there is not an underlying cause that may be corrected.
If you have questions about your pet please contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood of Trumann Animal Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org.