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Why do dogs lick cats? (Solved!)

The relationship between a cat and dog is often an unspoken one. Most people see them as mortal enemies or at least a very different species that do not get along with each other in any way.

This couldn’t be further from the truth! In this blog post, we will discuss why dogs lick cats, how they know when to groom each other. We’ll also talk about what to expect when these two animals interact with each other on a day-to-day basis.

Why do dogs lick cats?

Dogs lick cats as a sign of affection or to show their dominance. Licking releases pleasure chemicals in their brains: endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin. Dogs lick cats because that is the natural way of establishing dominance. It also feels good and is a signal of the dog and cat bonding.

7 Reasons Dogs Lick Cats

Dogs lick cats for several reasons. Some of them are innocent and just the way they show affection. Some of the reasons can be problematic. Whatever the case, there are some ways to get your dog to stop licking your cat if you need to.

Reason #1 Parental Instinct

The first reason your dog could be licking your cat is that he (or she) has taken on a parent role. In this case, the dog might view himself as a mother or father, and those maternal or paternal instincts are taking over.

Your dog views your cat as his family, and licking them can be a sign of affection. It releases chemicals in your dog’s brain that causes him to feel good. This is wonderful news if the feelings are mutual but can be problematic if your cat wants nothing to do with your dog.

If your dog feels like a mother or father to your cat, there will often be other signs. The dog will do other things, such as disciplining the cat or kitten when attempting to do something against the rules. If it looks like the cat is placing itself in danger to your dog, he might step in.

As a protector, your dog may find it necessary to follow your cat around to ensure they stay safe. They may lick your cat in different situations and for different reasons (like the ones below).

Reason #2 Grooming

The second reason might be because your dog is trying to groom your cat. This would be particularly true if the dog has taken on a parent role, but it might not be the case.

Grooming often involves some form of relationship. If your cat is comfortable with it, then it’s a good sign that they are bonding and enjoy each other.

Grooming can be for hygienic reasons if your dog notices something dirty in your cat’s fur. It can also just be them showing love and affection. This is especially true if your cat licks your dog too.

Reason #3 Boredom

If you have a bored dog, they might want to play with your cat. Dogs get bored just like humans, so if they are not getting enough attention or don’t have anything else stimulating, then the only thing left for them to do is lick the cat.

Dogs need to be active. If you don’t exercise them frequently, it can cause behavior problems. Their energy can build up, and they can misbehave and do destructive things.

Suppose your cat is bothered by your dog when he licks. Try to redirect your dog’s attention into something else that can occupy him if you can’t giving him more exercise or mental stimulation.

Reason #4 Loneliness

Dogs are social creatures. They need lots of relationships and connections in their life. They thrive in communities and in houses where they can be social, either with people or other dogs.

If you haven’t spent much time with your dog, maybe he is feeling lonely and trying to get to know the cat a bit better. Dogs and cats don’t always get along, but they can develop strong bonds just like a pair of dogs can.

If you only have one dog in the house and have a cat (or multiple cats), then your dog will likely view them in a way similar to how he would view another dog as a brother, sister, or parent.

I know cats can get away with things dogs can’t. Their personalities and temperament are also completely different. Cats know how to aggravate certain dogs, but the opposite is also true.

If your cats are allowed to get away with things that your dogs aren’t allowed to, or if you are showing more attention to them, your dog may have some jealousy. 

This leads to the next reason…

Why do dogs lick cats? (Solved!)

Reason #5 Establishing Dominance

Your dog could be licking your cat to show dominance over it. A couple of things can cause this behavior.

First, if your dog is jealous of your cat, your dog might try to dominate them. This is natural for dogs to do, as they live in packs, and someone has to take leadership.

If your dog is jealous, he may be trying to set your cat straight and put them in line with how he thinks the house’s hierarchy should be.

Cats can jump on counters and onto our laps in a way dogs can’t. They have more access to us, and because of this, they can demand more attention from us. How many times has your cat jumped on your lap or your desk while your trying to work?

Cats can get our attention in ways that dogs can’t. It’s only natural for a dog to get jealous and want to establish its dominance.

A sign of dominance is licking, whether it’s wanted or not. The dog will also stand up tall and straight and may even growl at the cat and chase them away at times. (not all of the time but growling at them as a warning to leave them alone and bugger off)

For whatever reason, licking can be a form of dominance.

Jealousy or not, your dog could view your cat as beneath him. It’s nothing to be concerned about unless your dog is trying to bite and injure your cat, which is outside the scope of this post.

Reason #6 Likes the smell

The fifth reason why your dog is licking your cat could be because he likes the way they taste or the way they smell.

Remember, a dog’s sense of smell is up to 300x stronger than humans. A cat’s sense of smell is up to 20x stronger. A cat’s nose is much weaker than a dog’s.

The dog could be licking the cat because the cat has a unique scent it enjoys. It could be that the dog likes the taste of your cat as well. This is common when a dog is introduced to a new cat. It hasn’t gotten a chance to become acquainted with the cat’s smell.

So licking and sniffing is how your dog gets to know your cat. This will probably put the cat off, but most dogs don’t mean any harm by it.

Licking and sniffing are how dogs become acquainted with other dogs.

Reason #7 Anxiety

An anxious dog may develop an anxiety disorder that causes them to lick too much. Anxious dogs can lick themselves so much that they begin to lose hair.  

This is rare but can also be a reason your dog licks your cat. If the dog is licking furniture and other things in excess, then he’s licking your cat for the same reasons.

How to get my dog to stop licking my cats?

The best way to get your dog to stop licking your cat is to spray your cat with a bitter spray, like Dermicare. It’s safe for dogs and cats and makes them taste unpleasant, which discourages licking. It’s often used to prevent dogs from licking their surgical wounds for them to heal.

You can also use positive reinforcement training to direct the dog’s energy into a healthier way of relating to the cat. Teach him the correct way of relating to the cat, and when he does a good job of restraining himself, you reward him with his favorite treat.

You can also use punishment and consequences when your dog licks your cat, such as spraying him with a water bottle and saying “NO.” It’s best to use this in combination with positive reinforcement training.

Why do dogs lick cats’ ears?

If your dog is licking your cat’s ears and not their fur, your cat could have an ear infection. It could have excess bacteria and buildup, releasing an odor that your dog can smell and finds irresistible. Try cleaning your cat’s ears and using a bitter spray on your cat.

Why do dogs lick cats? (Solved!)

Dogs and cats licking each other

Dogs and cats lick each other to show love and affection. Dogs do this with other dogs, and cats do this with other cats. If you have dogs and cats living together, it’s only natural for them to bond and lick one another. Consider yourself lucky.

Many dogs and cats don’t get along at all, and living with both of them causing problems. If your animals are bonding with each other, pat yourself on the back and count your blessings. Many dogs and cat owners have headaches they have to deal with regularly.

Dog obsessed with new kitten?

If your dog is obsessed with a new cat or kitten, you need to limit their time together. Slowly introduce the dog to the cat over a few days or weeks. Dogs can smell 10-20x more than cats. Your cat carries a smell that your dog has to become accustomed to.

It’s normal for the dog to be obsessed with a new kitten. Keeping the cat in a room by itself and teaching your dog to behave around it is the best approach.

If your dog is overly excited, be sure to speak to him calmly and not add to his excitement by yelling at him. Once your dog is accustomed to the way your cat smells, he won’t be as obsessed.

It’s normal.

Why do my dog and cat touch noses?

Dogs and cats touch noses in the same way humans do. They are bonding. It’s a sign of love and affection. It releases endorphins and feel-good chemicals in both of them. They like each other.

If your dog and cat like each other, consider yourself lucky.

Final Thoughts

It’s perfectly normal for a dog to lick a cat and vice versa. If it’s a problem, consider investing more time and energy into training. I hope this post has helped you in some way!

So, why do you think dogs lick cats?

Let us know in the comments below!