Can't Hold Their "Licker"


As you slowly drift to sleep on the sofa after an exhausting day at work, the sound of someone who can't hold their "licker" is going to work. You may tolerate it for a while before it gets so annoying that you raise your voice as you call their name in hopes they will stop or somewhere you muster the energy to politely ask them to stop before they hurt themselves; however, chances are it's not going to be effective because your animal companion appears to be involved in a bad habit that is obsessive and compulsive. Could there be other reasons why they lick?

Little do we realize the animal is trying to communicate with us as he or she continues to lick. Without the awareness that licking is a form of communication, most of us scratch our heads and ask why and what are they licking? As we scour their bodies trying to find the invisible culprit, we often give up and take our companions to the vet. Popular, albeit, temporary solutions, can include a shot containing a steroid or perhaps a round of antibiotics, only to find a week or possibly a few days later, the “licker” is back to work. Frustrated, we repeat this cycle until we either run out of money or the animal develops a serious condition as a result of all the medication that they have been given and now takes precedence over the licking.

We all know licking is a form of affection and love; however, licking also provides many clues into what the animal is trying to convey to us for their emotional needs. Take for example, when animals have been taken away from their mother at a very young age, they don't have the opportunity to learn a lot of the necessary life skills. As a result, when they get stressed or are under pressure to perform, they will lick themselves in an effort to comfort themselves and to relieve the stress or pressure. This often happens at night, and the predominant areas they will lick are their paws and legs.

Another reason animals lick is they are doing their own energy work. Often, it can be mistaken for grooming. They are stimulating areas of their bodies that have blocked or have stagnant energy. They are trying to release the flow of energy so their bodies will heal. They will also lick along their meridians. There are some excellent books that identify these areas, and this information will help you know which organ may be out of balance. This can be critical information that will assist your vet in diagnosing an underlying condition that is not obvious. Other times, a simple massage or helping them rub the area will release the energy so it can properly flow again.

If the animal’s energy is stagnant or not moving easily, their body heat may be affected. For example, a cat’s tongue is like a thermostat. If cats are cold, they will lick to fluff up their hair to help warm themselves or if they are too hot, they will lick to cool themselves down. During hot weather, a cat’s saliva serves as a cooling mechanism. This is a natural way they regulate their body temperature. By observing your animal companion, you will start to detect the subtle differences when they are grooming after you have messed up their hair or getting rid of your scent after you have petted them as a self-protection mechanism. If you are the guardian of a cat, you know how discriminating they can be when it comes to their “hair do.”

Let us not forget when it comes to a cat’s perfect “do”, when they lick, they stimulate a gland that produces a secretion that waterproofs their fur. Animals are self-aware and most of the ones I have communicated with are very conscious of how they look and take their appearance very serious. Generally, they want to always look their best even on rainy days.

Also, animals have not forgotten that their saliva holds healing chemicals that are released by licking. Have you ever cut your finger? What is the first thing you instinctively do? You put it in your mouth and lick the cut. You stop the bleeding in addition to starting the healing process. An animal’s saliva contains enzymes that act as an antibiotic. In addition, when they lick, they are removing parasites and bacteria from the wound. There is research proving that people who have been paralyzed have been healed and are walking as a result of an animal licking the affected area.

On the other hand, licking wounds can also be counterproductive as the animal attempts to reduce their pain and irritation that is associated with surgery. Again, this is a natural way to stimulate the healing process but some animals will remove sutures or drainage support.

Other obvious reasons animals lick range from yeast infections to food allergies, fleas, anal glands needing to be expressed, grooming, boredom, stressful environments, displacement behaviors, goodwill, submission, seeing themselves as a caregiver, anxiety, nutritional deficiencies and nausea.

So when the annoying sound of the licking begins, listen to what is being said from your heart instead of your head. There is a message being spoken of needing help and guiding you to understand how you can be of service. Choose another perspective other than the obvious one when an animal is licking. They are more than cleaning machines with germ killing skills. You will feel a unity of compassion as you know it's a good thing when they can't hold their "licker."

©Laura Lassiter 2016 All Rights Reserved