May I Have a Lick? Why Dogs Lick Ears

Beverly Hills MI Dog

If you are a dog lover, you have likely conceded that our canine friends have some quirky and often icky tendencies. Many of these behaviors are not because dogs are just weird, though. They tend to come from some force of nature that has made these habits evolutionarily or socially beneficial. 

Why dogs lick ears may not have a clear answer, but Beverly HIlls Veterinary Associates hope to help you understand this unique behavior a little better. 

Ear Licking is an Act of Love?

Ear licking behavior actually has a place in your pet’s role and function within a pack dynamic. Many of our pets’ behaviors are in some way meant to help communicate with other members of the pack, and why dogs lick ears is no different. 

Within a pack, ear licking may:

  • Strengthen bonds through mutual grooming
  • Help pack mates stay hygienic by cleaning an area not easily accessible to themselves
  • Communicate a sense of family and comfort
  • Demonstrate respect for a superior

While it may not be easy to remember that your dog is expressing love and respect while their tongue is in your, or another pet’s ear, they often are!

Remember, Dogs are Dogs 

Dogs are also, well, dogs, and why dogs lick ears may be rooted in other canine compulsions as well. 

Most dogs are on the lookout for tasty treats (chow hound, anyone?), and believe it or not some just enjoy the taste of earwax. The slightly salty taste and unique smell can be a plus for some pooches.

Dogs also tend to explore their world with their mouths. This means if they notice a new smell or strange discharge from a housemate, they may check things out with their tongue. 

A Few More Things About Why Dogs Lick Ears

Some ear licking behavior is normal, but if it is new or obsessive, it is important to take note. Ear discharge may change with things like ear infections, so if your dog is suddenly getting ear baths from your other pet, it is time to make an appointment with us

You can discourage overzealous ear licking to a reasonable point by:

  • Keeping your pet’s ears clean so wax is minimal
  • Bringing your pet in for us to investigate any ear problems right away
  • Provide your pet with fun toys to kill boredom
  • Enrich your pet’s environment and provide mental stimulation
  • Reward alternative affectionate behaviors if you don’t enjoy having your ears cleaned

Dogs will be dogs, but understanding a little bit as to why dogs lick ears can help us more enjoyably coexist with these curious creatures. They may have some interesting habits, but so do we! It is part of what makes them such an endearing addition to our homes.