Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Eyes? Should You Allow It?

Banner of five dogs licking and sticking their tongue out for the camera

If you’re a dog lover like me, you’ve probably noticed that dogs exhibit a lot of odd behaviors, including licking each other’s eyes. A little uncanny, but what does it mean? Should you allow it?

Dogs lick each other’s eyes as a sign of love and acceptance. Therefore, you should allow it unless it happens excessively. It’s also a grooming practice that dogs do to keep each other clean and free of any infections. Additionally, dogs can lick each other’s eyes or muzzle as a sign of submission.

The rest of this article will delve deeper into some details of this behavior and when precaution is required. I’ll also discuss other unusual behaviors dogs display related to licking and what they mean. 

Reasons Why Dogs Lick Each Other’s Eyes

Dogs lick each other for several reasons. It’s a way for them to communicate their message to other dogs. Where this behavior occurs also has a distinct meaning; for instance, a dog licking his companion at home might have a slightly different purpose than a dog licking another stranger out in the park.

Therefore, let’s get into the various reasons dogs exhibit this odd behavior, and how the location of the dog can dictate exactly why they’re acting this way.

A Dog Licking a Companion’s Eyes at Home

There are several reasons why dogs who live together lick and kiss each other on the eyes. If you have multiple pet dogs, or maybe your dog has a few dog friends he/she commonly sees, you’ve probably seen them practice this odd behavior.

It could be a grooming practice or something more, like a display of love and affection. In some cases, it could also mean that they’re trying to help with an eye infection, and in others, they just might be looking for a salty treat. Let’s get more into these reasons below.

Display of Affection

a variety of different dogs just sitting and smiling for the photo on a white background

If you have more than one dog in your house, it’s safe to say that they’re all part of one pack. The pack mentality would drive dogs to lick each other’s eyes as a sign of affection and acceptance. It means they care about the other dog and want to build lasting bonds.

Grooming Practice

On the other hand, this could also be a grooming practice. Since dogs lick themselves for grooming purposes, and their tongues cannot reach their eyes, they might need a little help from their furry pal. When you see your dogs licking each other’s eyes, it could mean that they’re trying to clean eye crusts and deposits from any ocular discharge. 


One of your dogs could possibly be dealing with an eye infection. In this instance, you might notice other dogs in your house are licking their eyes consistently. They’re doing this to help the sick dog get back to full health. 

Dogs’ saliva has antibacterial properties, and since they can’t reach their own eyes with their tongues, they appreciate the outside help. It’s a rare occurrence, but it does happen. If you think this could be why your dog is licking another dog’s eye, it’s always a good idea to call your veterinarian as soon as you notice.

Salty Treats

It’s highly speculated that dogs also like the salty taste of tears and eye crusts. It means that they simply might be looking for a treat in the eyes of the other dog. In this case, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if the behavior becomes excessive, it might be time to visit the veterinarian.

A Dog Licking an Unknown Dog’s Eyes Outdoors

If you notice your dog licking the eyes or muzzle of an unknown dog outdoors, this could mean that they’re trying to establish a hierarchy. If you look closely, you’ll see that one dog has its head slouching lower than the other, and there will only be one dog doing the licking. 

In this case, the dog licking the eyes or muzzle is showing its submission. In other words, this gesture means “I don’t want any trouble.” 

If you notice this happening, there isn’t much to worry about. Since dogs are pack animals, they need to establish a chain of command, which is how they would typically do it. However, if you see this behavior going on for an extended period, or if one of the dogs displays aggression, you should interject and separate them. 

When To Call the Vet for Eye Licking

Most of the time, when your dogs lick each other’s eyes or muzzles, it could be because of the reasons mentioned above. However, if your dogs lick each other or a specific dog excessively, you should seek professional help and call your vet. 

Excessive licking of eyes may mean that the dog being licked has developed an eye infection, and its companions are just trying to help keep the infected eye clean of any ocular discharge.

If your dog often licks another dog’s eyes, it’s important to keep an eye out for any other unusual licking behaviors. Some of these behaviors require vet assistance, and eye licking could be a sign of something more serious. Let’s go over some other, more serious, licking behaviors below.

Stress-Related Licking

Dogs that are stressed often lick objects, such as the floor, carpet, or furniture constantly. If you find your dog excessively licking anything around the house, it should be a sign of concern. It might be as minor as the dog feeling boredom or not receiving enough attention from you, or it could point to a significant medical issue like Giardiasis or Pancreatitis.

Stress-related issues aren’t limited to licking floors, carpets, and furniture. Your dog could also be licking their paws or other dogs in the pack for stress-related reasons. Whatever you do, don’t get mad at your dog for something that they cannot control. Instead, try to figure out why it’s happening and fix it to get your dog back to its jumpy and cheerful self. 

Separation Anxiety

If your dog had an abusive past or has been bounced around from owner to owner, it might have developed separation anxiety. This is another reason dogs might lick certain surfaces excessively. Additionally, separation anxiety could lead to destructive behavior like chewing and damaging things around the house. 

A dog with separation anxiety might become overwhelming for dog owners and burn a hole in their pockets, but having a dog means dealing with everything your dog is going through. If they feel anxious because they don’t want to be away from you, you should take this chance to spend extra time with your dogs and help them feel more secure and comfortable. 

Other Unusual Dog Behaviors

Apart from licking, dogs demonstrate other unusual behaviors too. Things like eating poop, spinning in circles, chasing their tails, or digging holes all have something in common; they all mean something, or your dog is trying to communicate with you.

While you shouldn’t panic at every odd behavior your dog exhibits, it’s nice to know why your dog is acting a certain way, and when you should ask a vet about it.

Final Thoughts

Dogs lick each other and their humans; it’s just how it is. They do this to show their love and affection to other dogs and obedience to their humans. 

Licking another dog’s eyes is common for a dog to do, and could be for various reasons, including:

  • Display of affection.
  • Grooming practice.
  • Cleaning an infection.
  • Enjoying a salty treat.
  • Show of submission.

However, you should always keep an eye out for excessive licking, and consult a vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s behavior.

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