It is one thing when your beloved pup drowns you in a sea of affectionate licks. But when you watch your furbaby giving the same tender loving to your beddings, it can leave you puzzled. Stick around as we answer your question, ‘Why does my dog lick my pillows and bedsheets?’
Dogs like licking pillows because of the salty taste of dead skin cells and sweat. Scientists believe that dogs lick humans as well because of the same salty taste. Your pup may also lick you out of affection. But if the licking bothers you, you can train him out of it.
You must agree that a little tail wagging and face licking make us feel appreciated by our dogs. But things can get awkward when your pup starts licking bed sheets and pillows. Why would they do that anyway?
Why do dogs lick pillows?
The answer lies in understanding how a dog’s tongue works. Unlike the human tongue which can detect five unique tastes- sour, bitter, salty, sweet, and umami- a dog’s tongue is only strong on fatty and salty tastes.
Give a dog a cookie and it will gobble it up. Not because of the chocolate flavors (which is bad for Bingo by the way) but the smell and taste of fats and salt in the cookie. Does this mean that your pillow has a fatty salty taste?
Pillows have more of a salty and less of a fatty taste. The saltiness comes from sweat and dead skin cells left on pillows and bedsheets after sleeping on them. The saline sweat and skin cells may not mean anything to us, but to the canine world, it’s like stepping into the Wonka Chocolate Factory.
🐶 Fun Fact
Humans lose about 40,000 skin cells per minute. That’s 2.4 million cells in an hour and 19.2 million dead cells in 8 hours.
If you get your 8 hours of sleep each day (as you should) then know that every morning, you leave behind a savory buffet for bingo. That answers your question “Why does my dog lick my bed sheets and pillows?”
Which leads us to the next question you might be asking yourself;
Is it safe for my dog to lick pillows and bedsheets?
In most cases, dog licking your pillows or bed sheets is harmless for him. Dead skin cells and sweat are just waste matter from your body. They do not contain any toxins that will harm your beloved pup.
The only time to show concern is if your dog develops allergies from licking your beddings. Two things in your pillows and sheets can affect your dog;
Dead skin cells (Ha!)
Cats may love the smell of bleach but dogs can sneeze right, left, and center because of the fumes. Also, scented detergents that humans love can be unbearable for a pet. They cause a lot of nasal irritation and make your pooch sneeze a lot.
The lavender freshness of your pillows may give you a goodnight’s sleep, but it will be sniffles and a runny nose for Bingo in the morning.
Dead skin cells
Dogs can be allergic to human dander just as humans are to pet dander. If a dog is allergic to the proteins in human skin cells, inhaling them from your sheets and pillows can cause them to sneeze.
Like humans, dogs and cats can react to proteins in dander, which is made of cells shed from skin, hair, and fur
-Sarah Griffiths, Daily Mail
While human dander makes some dogs sneeze, other dogs will develop itching in their coat. It can be hard knowing if your dog is allergic to pet dander or detergent unless they get evaluated by a trained vet.
How can I stop my dog from licking pillows?
While sniffing and licking your beddings is not harmless, it can be an annoying behavior displayed by your dog. And if your pup has allergies to human dander or scented detergents, he will still lick the pillows despite the discomfort after.
It is up to you, as the pet parent, to train them out of this habit. There are several ways to do this;
1. Provide plenty of toys
Your dog might be seeing your pillows and bed sheets as toys. The best way to weed this behavior out of your dog is by providing him with plenty of chew toys. Here is a little trick you can try;
Place the pillow on one side and the chew toy on the other
Let your dog decide which of the two he wants to chew on the most
If he goes for the chew toy, reward him with a treat
If he takes the pillow, he has failed, but do not scold him. Offer him the chew toy instead and if he takes it, reward him with a treat
Repeat the process until your dog associates the chew toy with something desirable like a treat.
It can be hard to imagine that your dog’s pillow chewing behavior stems from stress and anxiety. Chewing on soft things like pillows and bedsheets is a way of calming themselves down. Provide emotional support for your dog to stop them from feeling anxious.
Spend time with your dog and provide enough toys to keep them busy. Also, exercise your dog regularly to release pent-up energy. Dog breeds like the Chihuahua and Golden retriever are known to suffer separation anxiety when abandoned.
If your dog licks your pillows or bed sheets while playing, there is nothing to worry about. But do not let this habit grow if he embarrasses you in front of guests or you are tired of him ‘wetting your beddings’. Offer alternatives like chew toys, spend time with the dog to kill anxiety and keep your dog away from your beddings.
If you are tired of saliva-drenched bed sheets by yours truly, Bingo, there are a few things you can do. Provide chew toys for your dog and reward them whenever they choose the toy over your sheets. Keeping your bedroom locked and dirty beddings away from your dog can help too.
It is for the same reason they hump your leg; they are in heat or overstimulated. When you engage your dog is too much play, the excessive stimulation can cause them to hump pillows or blankets; something cats are good at. Consider neutering your dog to stop the humping problem.
Pets go through a teething phase where they are inclined to lick and chew on everything. Provide an alternative for your pup that is as soft as the pillow. A piece of cotton cloth or rope will suffice. Ensure the rope or cloth has no loose hanging threads that can choke your pup.
If your dog does not heed your warning about licking your pillows, chances are you encouraged the behavior. Go back to when this behavior started. If you laughed and praised him for doing something so funny, chewing pillows, they probably learned that it is okay.