Why Do Dogs Lick Lotion?

Puppy licking beautiful blonde woman's face

Most dogs love licking lotion off their owner’s legs and hands after it has been applied. This is primarily due to them simply enjoying the taste and smell of the lotion; however, it could also be because they are curious about the unfamiliar taste, are trying to remove it, or are showing their affection. 

Five Reasons Your Dog Is Licking Your Lotion

Are you curious as to why your dog can’t stop licking your legs after you’ve lathered up? Or perhaps you’re an avid hand-cream applier and find your pup constantly licking your well-moisturized hands and are wondering, “why?”. Firstly, this is very normal behavior. Dogs love licking lotion! So, let’s examine the reasons why your dog can’t get enough of your cream.

1. They’re intrigued by the taste

Have you ever given much thought to why you choose the lotion you do? There’s a fair chance it’s because it’s made with some mouth-watering ingredients. Most lotions are made of delicious-sounding treats such as vanilla, cherry, honey, almond, and avocado. Though the amount of natural flavoring varies lotion-to-lotion, there’s a good chance you’re not the only one drawn to these flavors. 

Your pup likely loves the taste of the lotion or at least is drawn to its sweetness. If you don’t believe us, try a plain lotion, and see if your dog is still all over you!

2. They like the smell

This reason ties in with the sweet ingredients. Scented lotions draw dogs from a mile away. Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and lotions are generally extremely fragrant (one of the reasons we tend to buy them). 

They are licking your lotion for the same reason they tend to get into the garbage and sniff away at other smelly things. Dogs love to smell, and because the smell is so sweet, the licking is a natural second step!

3. They are curious

So maybe you’re a scent-free lotion wearer, and you’ve read the two previous reasons and realized they don’t apply to your situation. Well, then perhaps your dog is simply curious. The lotion is a strange substance from a dog’s perspective. It’s thicker than water and damp but not wet, and we tend to cover our bodies in it. This is foreign to a pup so naturally, they need to explore it.

4. They are trying to get the unfamiliar substance off you 

If your dog really goes to town on your moisturizer, it could also be their protective instinct kicking in. As mentioned, moisturizer is confusing for them, so they may want to help you get it off. Because pups don’t have opposable thumbs, they use their tongues for many impressive things. One of these is likely to remove the foreign goop of your skin!

5. They’re showing their love!

Last but certainly not least, let’s consider the simple fact that canines are one of the most loving creatures out there and may just be showing their affection. Sure, the sweet taste and smell may have something to do with why they’re licking your legs or hands in particular, but the truth is dogs do love showing their affection and loyalty to their owners. 

As kids, we all learn that a dog’s lick is the equivalent of a human kiss and hug, so think of this as a warm token of affection from your good boy or girl!

Is Lotion Okay for My Dog’s Health? 

Whether or not you need to stop your dog from licking your lotion, depends on what kind of lotion it is. Some lotions are perfectly fine for your dog to lick while others are cause for concern. Let’s examine these so you know when to stop your pup and when you don’t need to worry. 

Moisturizing Lotions

The ingredients in the lotion are the biggest factor in their effect on your pup. Unfortunately, many moisturizers contain chemicals that help them stay fresh, smelly, and effective.

These chemicals may cause an upset stomach or tongue in your dog, so be sure to check before you let your dog lick away at your legs. However, trace amounts are usually fine. So, don’t worry too much if your dog has one or two licks but don’t let them have any more unless you’ve ensured it’s safe.

Organic Lotions

Organic lotions are a go-ahead for your pup considering they are usually free of any toxic ingredients. However, make sure you read the label just to be certain. 

Scented Lotions

Most scented lotions contain chemicals. Unfortunately, such strong fragrances are usually due to some sort of additive. Be sure to check the label before you let your dog lick your lotion.

The best rule of thumb to follow is that if there are ingredients you can’t pronounce, they’re likely not natural, and your dog shouldn’t be ingesting them.

Tanning Lotions

Tanning lotions are clearly not natural and are full of chemicals that will upset your pup’s tummy. If you apply your lotion for that extra glow in the winter, you don’t need to switch. Simply make sure you put on pants or a covering of some sort right away so your pup can’t lick the lotion post-shower. 

Lotions for medical purposes (such as anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, etc.)

As you may have guessed, these are definitely not okay for your dog to lick away at. These lotions have medicinal properties and are usually strong. If you wouldn’t ingest them, your dog shouldn’t either.


One critical aspect to consider when choosing your lotion is allergens. If your dog has any allergies, then you must be sure not to select a lotion that contains those, as your dog will inevitably at least attempt to lick the lotion off of your skin.

Soy and dairy are common allergies in dogs so make sure to ask your vet before you buy soy butter lotion or milky ingredient-filled lather.

How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Licking My Lotion? 

If you don’t want to switch to an organic lotion, have no fear. There are several ways to get your pup to stop their licking. We’ve explored a few of them so you can lather up stress-free.


As with other unwanted behaviors in pups, distraction is a sure-fire way to get them to stop. Though intelligence varies from breed to breed, most dogs will stop licking your legs as soon as you find them a better option. 

Maybe this superior activity is a toy, a treat, or perhaps just letting them play outside. Your dog will only continue licking your skin so long as there’s nothing better for them to do. 

Cover Up

Another simple way to stop your pet from licking the lotion that we’ve mentioned briefly is to simply cover up your moisturized skin. Maybe this means you don’t walk around in your towel post-shower and instead put on your clothes right away.

Or you wear gloves after applying your hand lotion or apply it in the evening when your pup isn’t around you. The less lotion your dog ingests, the better it is for their health. 

Final Thoughts

Dogs love licking lotion. They will inevitably be drawn to your lathered skin, so simply make sure you check if it’s safe for them to do so and if not, ensure you aren’t letting them do it for long.

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