If you suffer from psoriasis and own a dog, you might have noticed your furry friend licking the affected area of your skin.
Why is this? What motivates this behavior? And should you let your dog lick your psoriasis?
Keep reading to find out the answers.
Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Psoriasis?
The most likely reasons for your dog licking your psoriasis are that it tastes nice to your dog, they are grooming you, or they know something is wrong and are trying to help.
Let’s look at this list in more detail:
- Your psoriasis tastes nice to your dog.
- They are grooming you.
- They know something is wrong and are trying to help.
- You might have accidentally encouraged the licking.
1. Your Psoriasis Tastes Nice to Your Dog
This might sound really weird to you but let’s be honest, dogs enjoy licking lots of things that humans wouldn’t!
Something about the scaly, flaky skin and the scabs caused by psoriasis might taste delicious to your pet pooch.
2. They Are Grooming You
Dogs (and other animals) mutually groom each other, and dogs will often also groom humans. This behavior pattern is called social grooming.
It serves different purposes, including hygiene, bonding, and the expression of social ranking.
If your dog sees psoriasis on your skin, it might think you need to be groomed, so it might be that they are licking it in an attempt to try and clean it.
3. They Know Something is Wrong and Are Trying to Help
Some domestic dogs can smell ailments in other dogs and also in humans.
They have been shown to sniff out illnesses ranging from cancer to the very early onset of Parkinson’s disease.
It could be that when they see patches of psoriasis on your skin, they understand something isn’t right and intuitively want to try and make it better by licking it.
4. You Might Have Accidentally Encouraged the Licking
While this might sound surprising, it is easy to train your dog into a new behavior accidentally.
For example, imagine if your dog randomly licked your psoriasis one day. Then, without thinking, you laughed and petted them.
The dog felt good because you reacted warmly and gave them some pets.
They repeated the behavior, and you gave them a friendly hug this time.
They might have now learned that if they lick your psoriasis, you will be nice to them.
So whenever they want some affection from you, they will lick your psoriasis.
Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Psoriasis?
Unless you have put a medication such as a lotion or an ointment on your skin, your dog has no risk if they lick your psoriasis. This is because they can’t catch it from you.
This skin condition is not infectious or dangerous to dogs.
However, it is risky for you if you let them do it.
The salvia could worsen your psoriasis, and you are also at risk of infection due to the damaged skin.
You should not let your dog lick your psoriasis. It’s too risky, and worst-case scenario, it could make you very sick, and you could end up in hospital.
Canine saliva has some nasty bugs. As a result, diseases and even parasites can be transmitted from pet dogs to their owners.
If you have damaged skin, in this case from your psoriasis, there is a significantly increased risk of infection from the bacteria in your dog’s saliva.
So you should avoid letting your dog lick your skin if there is any damage, such as a cut, scab, or rash.
Finally, the dog’s saliva may dry out or inflame your rash and thus make it more itchy and painful.
Of course, it’s up to you if you want to let them lick your psoriasis, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.
And if you are still tempted to let them do it, please watch this short but shocking video!
It might just change your mind (click the image to play):
NOTE – If your dog licks your damaged skin and you then notice any sort of reaction, please speak to a doctor as soon as you can.
It could turn severe very quickly.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a condition of the skin that causes flaky and scaly rashes on areas of the body.
Depending on the color of the person who has it, the rash can be pink, red, white, silver, purple, or brown.
It can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most often on the head, knees, lower back, or elbows.
Usually, these flaky patches of skin are small but can often be sore and itchy.
Medical experts do not fully know the cause of psoriasis, but it is thought that it is related to issues with the immune system.
Why Do Dogs Lick People?
When thinking about your dog licking your psoriasis, it can also be interesting to think about why dogs generally lick humans.
It might be that your dog would lick your skin even if the psoriasis weren’t there.
Here are some more general reasons for this type of canine behavior:
- Social grooming.
- Showing affection.
- Expressing empathy.
- Some humans have tasty skin.
- To gain attention.
In the same way, dogs engage in mutual grooming with other dogs. They also do so with humans.
So, yes. If your dog is licking you, it might be because it thinks you are unclean!
But it could also be a way of bonding with you. You can decide for yourself which it is!
Note – You might also be interested in this post about why dogs lick eczema.
Dogs will lick and nuzzle humans to express affection towards them.
While this may leave you covered in unpleasant and slimy dog saliva, at least it was well-intentioned!
Dogs are very smart. They can often tell when humans are sad, sick, or in pain.
What is even more awesome is they will often try to alleviate the suffering and express empathy by licking the person who is sad or sick.
Some Humans Have Tasty Skin
Dogs often lick humans because their skin tastes nice.
It might be that the person has just eaten some tasty food, or possibly that they have been sweating, and the dog likes the taste of the salty sweat.
To Gain Attention
Most dogs love getting attention from their owners, and they are clever enough to learn ways to get that attention.
If they try to get your attention by licking you and you respond by stroking them, they will learn to repeat this action in the future when they want to be petted.
(You might not realize it, but your dog is training you to behave in certain ways, just like you teach them).
How to Stop Your Dog From Licking Your Psoriasis
The easiest and most obvious way to stop your dog from licking your psoriasis is to prevent them from being able to get close enough to it.
This could be as simple as covering the rash up with clothing or not letting your dog sleep in bed with you.
However, it might not always be practical to do this, so you might need to use training to stop them from doing it.
How to Train a Dog Not to Lick Psoriasis
When trying to train a dog not to lick psoriasis (or anything else for that matter), we first need to remember that licking is a perfectly natural behavior for them.
This means it might be hard to eliminate licking entirely, and you should only try to do so with good reason.
With that said, there is a simple two-step process that should be very effective with most dogs:
- Use the “No” command to stop the licking.
- Use distraction and praise to redirect the dog’s attention.
Let’s look at each step more closely:
Training and Using the “No” Command
If you have not already trained your dog to obey the no command, you should prioritize it.
Select a behavior you want them to stop doing – in this case, licking your psoriasis – you need to catch them in the act of doing it, say “No” in a firm voice, and physically stop them from doing it.
For example, if your dog was licking your hand, you would pull your hand away and say the “No” command clearly and firmly.
Once they understand the “No” command for hand licking, it will be much easier to train them to understand it in a different context, such as barking or jumping up at people.
So you should work through a few different behaviors until they understand that “No” means stop what they are doing, whatever it is.
Final Notes On Why Your Dog Licks Your Psoriasis
If your dog licks at your psoriasis, it will most probably be because of one of the following reasons:
- Your psoriasis is tasty to your four-legged buddy.
- They are trying to groom and clean you.
- They are trying to help to feel better.
- You may have inadvertently encouraged the licking behavior.
It is not dangerous for your dog to lick it unless you have medication on it, in which case you must not let them.
It could be dangerous for you. Germs from your dog’s saliva can infect you through the damaged skin caused by psoriasis, so you shouldn’t let them lick it.
Psoriasis is an unpleasant condition, and you should treat it if it persists.
If your dog’s licking behavior is obsessive or frantic, you should take them to a vet for a checkup as they may have an underlying health condition.
If you are struggling financially and worried about vet bills, this website lists places you can contact for help.
(If you do not live in the USA, you can use Google to search for similar help near you, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners in difficulty).
Ok, that’s the end of this post looking at the question, “why does my dog lick my psoriasis?”
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment using the box directly below.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!