Dogs lick themselves in order to groom their fur, to heal themselves from any wounds and to express stress and anxiety. Dogs may also lick other dogs in order to communicate with one another and to show affection.

The saliva of dogs contains enzymes that help to heal wounds and kill off bacteria that may be present. If a dog is compulsively licking a single spot on its own body, it may be a sign of anxiety and stress. The dog may be trying to cope with feeling scared or nervous. While licking may be a stress reliever, this habit may actually reinforce the sensation of feeling stressed; thus, causing its symptoms to worsen.