As an owner, you might be puzzled or distressed to see your dog sniffing and licking the walls. It might seem like there is no reason for this strange behaviour but there are a number of possible medical and behavioural causes. Although licking the walls might be a harmless activity, it could also be a symptom of an underlying health problem.
Dogs are naturally curious animals and use their noses and mouths to learn more about the world around them. Although they are known for sniffing and licking most objects occasionally, this behaviour might become more obsessive. If your dog is sniffing or licking the walls more than usual, it could be a sign that something is wrong, especially if this behaviour is accompanied by other symptoms, such as increased appetite and panting. In this case, it is important to consult a vet.
Dogs may lick and sniff the walls out of curiosity. However, continuous licking is an indication that something is amiss. So if you think your dog is displaying this kind of behaviour more frequently than usual or obsessively, it is important to consult a vet to determine the correct cause.
Vet Mike Richards, DVM, explains that there are many potential causes behind this kind of behaviour but it is not an indicator of a particular problem. It could be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder, stress or boredom. He also says that it could be caused by a neurological problem, a condition such as Cushing's disease, seizures or liver failure. Medication or behavioural therapy can be used to alleviate symptoms.
The kind of treatment your dog receives for licking and sniffing the walls will depend on the cause behind the behaviour. Neurological and medical causes will require veterinary treatment, while obsessive compulsive disorder and stress may need behaviour training. As Royal Canin remarks, pica (the eating of non-edible substances) can show depression in a dog. Ensuring your pet has enough space, stimulation, toys and exercise can help with behavioural problems.
If your dog is sniffing and licking the walls compulsively, it is important to ensure it has an adequate supply of fresh water and that there are no toxic substances or objects on the walls that could potentially cause it harm. It is also important to watch the dog carefully for any changes in its behaviour. Pet Place advises that if the dog starts compulsively grooming or licking itself, it could injure itself or provoke dermatitis.