Why Does My Dog Lick Pavement, Cement, Or Concrete? (Vet Tech Explains)

Why Does My Dog Lick Pavement, Cement, Or Concrete

Have you ever been on a walk and turned around to see your dog licking the sidewalk? Your initial reaction is probably to pull them away from the spot they were licking. But, what if they keep licking the concrete during your walk and you can’t seem to get them to stop? You’ll probably wonder;

Why is my dog licking the pavement, concrete, or cement?

If your dog is obsessively licking the pavement there are a few exclamations. They might simply be bored, curious, or like the taste of the concrete. It’s also possible that your dog might like the pavement because they’re nutrient deficient, have pica, or have gastrointestinal issues.

In this article, we’ll explain why all of these things might cause your dog to lick the pavement. We’ll also talk about what you can do to get your dog to stop licking the concrete and whether or not you should worry.

Reasons Why Your Dog Licks The Pavement, Concrete, Or Cement

In general, licking is a very natural behavior for dogs. Dogs often lick their owners while cuddling to show affection, love, and trust. Dogs might lick other members of the family as a grooming behavior, and they might like their toys because they like the taste and feel of them.

When dogs lick a rough surface like concrete, it doesn’t really make sense. However, you might be surprised to know that there are quite a few things that might motivate your dog to lick the pavement.

Here are some reasons why your dog might be licking the concrete.

Reason 1: They Might Be Nutrient Deficient

If you’ve ever owned or spent time around horses you know what a mineral lick or salt lick is. Mineral licks can be naturally occurring or can be provided by owners.  Mineral licks are basically items that help replace a nutrient deficiency in an animal’s diet. Phosphorus, sodium, calcium, and iron are some of the nutrients that can be replaced through licking.

When dogs lick the concrete, they may be trying to replace a nutritional deficiency in their diet.

Concrete isn’t the best substance to help replace nutrients. But, for a domesticated animal, it might seem like the right choice. Sadly, your dog won’t get any supplemental vitamins or minerals from licking the pavement.

It might be hard to tell if your dog is nutrient deficient without taking them to a veterinarian. We’d like to point out that nutritional deficiencies are actually higher in dogs that are fed homemade dog food as opposed to dogs fed commercially produced food.

Reason 2: They Could Have Pica

Pica is an issue that presents as dogs, licking, chewing, and consuming items that are not meant for consumption. According to the University of California Davis, pica is usually secondary to nutritional, medical, or behavioral issues. Pica can cause dogs to eat anything from socks to toys and will result in them licking just about everything.

If your dog seems to lick the concrete uncontrollably they might be experiencing pica. As we mentioned, above pica is usually caused by another underlying problem. So, in order to treat pica, you’ll need to figure out what’s going on with your dog in the first place.

You might be able to tell that your dog has pica if they’re not only licking the concrete but also eating and consuming inappropriate objects.

Reason 3: They Could Be Experiencing Stomach Issues

Obsessively licking can be a dead giveaway of nausea.

When your dog licks a certain spot over and over again, it might mean that their stomach is upset. This is because nauseous dogs often produce excess saliva. With extra saliva comes more licking. If your dog just started licking the pavement or concrete, and won’t stop, it might be an acute nausea event.

How else can you tell if your dog is nauseous?

Other signs of nausea include drooling, retching, and vomiting. So if the licking is also combined with gagging, your dog just isn’t feeling well. Try to offer your dog water and a place to rest. If they start vomiting, it’s definitely a good sign that they need to visit a veterinarian soon.

Reason 4: They Have ELS

ELS is a disorder in dogs that stands for excessive licking of surfaces. When dogs have ELS they don’t just like something a few times and move on, they lick a surface obsessively.

One of the most common signs of ELS is floor licking, though as Dr. Patel explains in this article it’s far from the only explanation.

Some dogs that like concrete obsessively might have ELS. Just like pica, ELS is a problem that is secondary to a different primary condition. Some things that cause ELS aren’t very serious and just require a slight change in your dog’s daily routine to fix. Other causes are gastrointestinal and will probably require veterinary intervention.

ELS is extremely compulsive and a dog experiencing this problem will have a hard time moving on from licking concrete.

Reason 5: They Like The Taste Or Smell

Another less serious reason your dog might be licking the concrete is that they like the taste or smell of it.

Dogs have incredibly strong senses of taste and smell. It’s estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times as strong as a human’s. Even if you think there’s nothing on the concrete, your dog might disagree. They could be smelling a delicious hot dog that fell there weeks ago.

Beyond smelling something exciting on the pavement, your dog might even have found a tasty treat that they will lick up until they feel like they’ve gotten everything.  Cement itself isn’t appetizing, but there are so many things that your dog might want to lick up off of it.

Reason 6: They’re Curious

Dogs and especially puppies are curious creatures.

If your dog isn’t used to a particular type of pavement, concrete, or cement, they might be very curious about it. It’s normal for them to sniff, and lick to get a feel of their environment. Dogs don’t have the same tactile abilities that we do with our hands so they often feel things with their tongues. Is totally normal and to be expected of younger dogs.

Usually, curious dogs won’t like the ground for long periods of time or obsessively. But, if your dog just takes a few licks off the sidewalk on your walk, just know that they might be trying to understand their surroundings a little better.

Reason 7: They’re Bored

The last thing that might explain why your dog is licking the concrete is that they’re just bored.

Imagine this scene: your dog is laying outside on the patio during a nice summer day. They are pretty relaxed and don’t have much to do in the yard when you’re not out there.  They know they’re not supposed to dig or make a mess. They noticed that the concrete beneath them is rough and textured, and they feel like giving it a lick.

The feel of the concrete on your dog’s tongue might be enjoyable and help them pass the long days outside. Especially if your dog doesn’t have something to chew on, they might resort to licking.

Should You Worry?

Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why your dog might be licking the cement, let’s discuss when you need to worry.

If your dog only licks the concrete for short periods of time, it’s probably not something you need to worry about. They really just might be bored, or have found something that tastes good. However, if the licking extends for long periods of time, it could be an indication that something is wrong. Excessive licking could be linked to pica, ELS, or nausea.

If your dog seems obsessed with licking pavement, it’s a good idea to visit the veterinarian. They’ll be able to run some tests and make sure your dog has all the nutrients that they need. Your vet will also be able to help you identify if something is going wrong in your dog’s gastrointestinal system, or if this might be more of a behavioral issue.

What Can You Do If Your Dog Won’t Stop Licking The Pavement?

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help get your dog away from that pavement.

Train “Leave It”

Leave it is an extremely useful command that you can train your dog to use.

Treating your dog to “leave it” means that you want your dog to take their attention off of whatever their attention is on and focus on you. This is a perfect strategy if your dog seems to be obsessed with looking concrete. Training “leave it” isn’t easy but once you establish a positive reinforcement system with your dog you’ll be able to start teaching them to leave it.

This video gives you a quick tutorial on how to train “leave it” to your dog.

Distract Them

Another great way to keep your dog from licking the cement is to provide them with a better distraction.

Dogs that like the cement out of boredom, can be redirected to licking or biting something that’s better for them. Maybe you can provide a safe chewing toy for your pet or give them a nice ice treat for mental and physical stimulation. If your dog is licking the pavement, while you’re out on a walk, try distracting them by starting to jog or play with them.

Keep Your Dog Well Fed And Hydrated

Keeping her dog, well-fed and well-hydrated will help prevent any licking due to nutritional deficiencies.

We mentioned earlier that dogs on commercial diets are often more nutritionally balanced than dogs on homemade dates. This is because commercial dog foods have the exact balance of vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to stay healthy. If you are feeding homemade dog food, make sure you do your research and provide your dog with enough nutrients.

As far as hydration goes, dogs should always have a source of fresh water to drink throughout the day. If your dog doesn’t seem to drink enough water out of their dish,  you can try switching them onto wet food or adding some warm water into their kibble during mealtimes.

Visit The Veterinarian

If all else fails, we always encourage you to take a visit to your veterinarian.

As you now know, excessive or compulsive licking can be a sign of something else going on. There are some things that we as owners just can’t do from home that can be easily accomplished in a veterinary hospital.

Diagnostics are so important in understanding what’s going on with your furry friend. Hopefully, with help from a medical professional, you’ll be able to figure out exactly what’s going on and come up with a treatment plan together.

Final Thoughts

There are so many things that can explain why your dog licks the concrete, cement, and pavement. Some of these causes are boredom, taste, or curiosity. Other causes of excessive floor leaking may be linked to more serious issues like pica, ELS, or nausea. Plus, your dog might be licking the concrete because they’re vitamin and mineral deficient.

We hope this article has helped you to assess why your dog might be licking the floor and how you can take the next steps to fix the problem, if your dog is a fan of licking other things around the house like the couch then check out this article, to find out other possible reasons!

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