After a long day at work, there’s nothing like crawling into what you think is a set of clean sheets, only to find that your hand lands in slobber.
So, once you rule out your kids or a leaking roof causing the problem, you’re likely eyeing your pup and wondering, “Why does my dog lick my bed sheets?”
From playfulness to wanting to spend more time with you, there are many reasons why your dog might be licking your bed sheets. However, it can also be because of medical reasons. I’ll help you understand some of the most common causes and how to solve them.
9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Licking Your Bedsheets
You’re undoubtedly ready to get to the bottom of your dog’s bed sheet licking. So, below are some of the most common causes.
1. There’s Some Yummy Crumbs
If you eat in bed, you might be at fault for your slobbery sheets. We’ve all heard that dogs have a better sense of smell than we do, but did you know that your dog can smell 10,000 – 100,000 times better than you can?
When comparing that to vision at the low end of that spectrum, your dog could see 3,000 miles in the distance while you can only see one-third of a mile.
Needless to say, no matter how well you thought you cleaned the bed after a late-night eating binge, your dog will know if you left any crumbs behind and will lick them up accordingly.
2. They’re Playing
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have my dog’s life, where his day revolves around sleeping and playing. So, your dog might be licking your bed sheets to turn it into a game.
If you’ve played with them on your bed in the past, this is even more likely—dogs will repeat behaviors they enjoyed and that got them attention.
Puppies also might have a higher chance of licking the bed than adult dogs, given that they’ll lick and chew just about anything they can get their mouths on. They do this because of discomfort as their adult teeth grow. Luckily, you can expect this chewing to subside when they turn around six months old.
3. They Want To Smell You
Your dog loves revolving their life around you. So, when you’re away from home, they might hop into your bed and lick your sheets because your sheets smell like you.
Furthermore, they might be licking your sheets because they both smell like you and have a salty residue from your skin. It’s gross, I know. However, some animal behaviorists believe dogs may lick human skin for a dose of salt as much as out of affection.
In either case, if you suspect that your dog is licking your bed because they miss you when you’re gone, consider keeping your bedroom door closed and giving them an old unwashed shirt of yours to cuddle with instead.
4. They Suffer From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While it can be hard to pinpoint OCD in dogs, below are some signs to look for:
- Flank sucking
- Excessive drinking
- Chewing on people or objects
So, if your dog is not only licking your bed sheets obsessively but also many other objects in your house, OCD might be the cause. One of the best ways to manage canine OCD is to keep them on a routine and use positive reinforcement training techniques.
It’s also helpful to offer them lots of exercise opportunities and make them feel safe and loved.
5. You’ve Encouraged the Behavior
Dogs are often more in tune with human reactions than we are. As a result, you may have accidentally given your dog the okay to lick your sheets one time.
Think back to the last time your dog was on the bed. Did they give your sheets a lick? Maybe they did something as innocent as snuggling their nose down into the sheets.
However, if that behavior was met by you saying “Silly girl!” in a cutesy voice or ruffling up their fur, you may have unknowingly encouraged them to do that behavior again in the future. Healthy dogs need a minimum of 30 – 60 minutes of exercise per day plus quality one-on-one time. So, they might try to lick your sheets to get more attention from you since they know it worked in the past.
6. Something Changed in Their Diet
Now that you know dogs appreciate routines, they might lick your bed sheets if you change their dog food—especially if you change it to a type of food they don’t like.
It might sound silly, but the familiarity of the taste of your bedsheets could comfort them, similar to how many people crave dessert after eating.
If you suspect that your dog is licking the sheets because of a dietary change, the first thing is to check to ensure the food you’re giving them is high-quality and contains well-balanced nutrition. If this is the case and assuming that your dog eventually eats the food, give your dog their favorite toys after a meal and encourage them to lick those instead.
7. They’re Suffering From Anxiety
Anxiety is a relatively common trait in dogs, especially separation anxiety. So, your dog might start licking your sheets if they’re used to being home much of the time, and then something causes you to be away.
Aside from bed sheet licking, signs of canine anxiety include:
- Trying to escape
- Barking and whining
- Chewing and digging
- Having accidents in the house
Not only does sheet licking give them something to let their nervous energy out on, but it also helps them feel closer to you since they can smell and taste you.
Pica is a disorder that affects both dogs and humans, as it causes them to crave “food” that isn’t food. So, if your dog has pica, they might not only be trying to lick your bed sheets but eat them.
Aside from the nuisance of your dog licking or eating your bed sheets, doing so can be harmful. Their digestive system won’t be able to break down sheets, so it’ll get backed up in their gut or even caught in their throat.
In some cases, dogs may temporarily develop pica to offset a nutritional deficiency from parasites or a poor diet. In other cases, there may not be a fix other than to keep your dog out of your bedroom.
9. There’s a Medical Issue
Most of the time, sheet licking is a behavioral problem. But in some cases, you might have a more serious medical issue on your hands. Examples of illnesses that could cause your dog to lick your bed sheets include:
- Stomach pain
- Skin allergy
- Fungal or bacterial infection
If your dog is licking your sheets because of a medical issue, the chances are high that they’re licking other objects, too. So, if you sense that your dog is feeling under the weather or notice physical changes to the appearance of their skin, take them to the vet.
Tips for Stopping Your Dog’s Bed Sheet Licking
Now that you know the many possibilities for the question “Why does my dog lick my bed sheets?” let’s explore how to stop it.
Block Your Bed
You understandably don’t want to wash your sheets every day. So, the most effective way to end your dog’s bed sheet licking behavior is to prevent them from accessing it. Of course, that’s putting a Band-Aid on the problem.
But if you have the means to keep your dog out of the bedroom, I recommend starting there.
Stop Encouraging It
If you believe that your behavior encouraged your dog to pick up on a bed sheet licking habit, it’s time to reverse course. Not only should you stop encouraging the licking, but you’ll also need to use positive reinforcement training techniques to train your dog to stop.
Change What Your Dog Eats
Whether your dog has pica or feels the need to lick your sheets for some extra salt, they might not be getting all the nutrients they need. I recommend talking with your veterinarian to see the food they recommend. They may also prescribe your dog some supplements.
Bring Them to the Vet
While I don’t want to be an alarmist, it’s always good to bring your dog to the vet if you feel there could be a medical reason for their bed sheet licking. Your vet will likely run some tests to check for parasites, skin infections, and more that could be causing this behavior.
Are You Ready for Clean Sheets Again?
Hopefully, you’ll no longer need to wonder, “Why does my dog lick my bed sheets?” and can now get to work fixing the issue.
Although medical reasons can cause canine bed sheet licking, for the most part, this is a behavioral issue that you can resolve with time and patience.