Why Do Dogs Lick Armpits?
June 21, 2019
Dogs are constantly doing strange and unusual things which may not make a lot of sense to us, but for them, there’s logic in their weird habits – even if they may seem a little gross to a human mind.
Truth is, dogs are a lot smarter than we give them credit for! In fact, they’ve got superpowers. They’ll be able to smell what we last ate on us, they can smell if we’ve just exercised, and some dogs can even sniff out cancer. Our body odours tell our pets so much about us, it is no wonder that sometimes they look at us a bit strangely! But if you have found that your dog is licking your armpits quite regularly, it may just be a simple case of your dog liking the taste of salty skin!
If your dog licks you anywhere, this will also be a sure sign of affection from your pet, when they lick themselves, you, or other animals endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ will be released which will comfort and relax the dog. This works in a very similar way as when humans get stressed, we tend to start nibbling on our fingernails.
So really, there are multiple reasons why your dog may want to lick your armpit, it could be trying to find out what you have been up to, it could just like the taste, or it could simply just want to show you that they care.
A Dog’s Power of Detection
Throughout history dogs have had many important jobs to do, saving stranded mountain climbers, serving in the army, and working as assistance dogs, but it has recently been discovered that dogs are also able to detect cancer.
Cancer emits an incredibly faint smell, so faint that humans would never be able to pick up on it, but dog’s noses are infinitely more powerful than ours. Once researchers realised that dogs were able to detect the smell of cancer, they didn’t hang around for long before they started to train the dogs to sniff out cancerous cells in unhealthy tissue. So, much in the very same way that dogs are able to sniff out explosives and drugs, they are able to now help out in hospitals making sure that cancer is detected as early as possible.
Dogs who have been successful in the training have successfully sniffed out all kinds of cancers such as lung, bladder, breast and skin cancer with incredible accuracy. In one trial run, dogs only missed out on 14 cases of cancer out of 1272. But just because some dogs are able to be trained to sniff out cancer, this doesn’t mean that your pet will necessarily be able to do the same for you.
Can Dogs Really Smell Fear?
Adrenaline is yet another thing that your dog can smell which humans can’t! When we are stressed, or anxious, our body will pump out adrenaline to make sure that we are prepared to engage our flight or fight responses. So, when we are particularly tense, dogs – especially very sensitive dogs will be able to detect this. It is likely that when adrenaline is coursing through our bodies, we will sweat, so, this leads us back to why dogs like to lick our armpits, it helps a dog to both comfort us and understand us.
Yet, your dog may not even need their tongue to decipher what is going on due to the fact that some dog breeds such as Beagles have up to 300 million sensory receptor sites in their noses. When you compare that number to the number of sensory receptors which a human’s nose has; 6, it is definitely no wonder why so many people believe dogs have superpowered noses!
Another way in which humans and dogs differ is in terms of how much we rely on our sense of smell on a day to day basis. While anyone without the ability to smell will tell you just how detrimental it is to be lacking in sensory receptors, a sense of smell is much more essential to a dog.
Why a Dog’s Affection Can Seem a Bit Weird
It isn’t just domesticated dogs who give out kisses to their owners, in fact, it is observed that in the wild puppies like to give sloppy greetings to their mother after she has returned from a hunt.
This has led to people believing that when they get home from work, or wherever they happened to go, that a dog kissing or licking you meant that they wanted to give out some loves after the absence. Even Darwin was wrong on his original theory that this is why dogs first started to lick their parent’s faces. Researchers concluded that this habit was formed in wild dogs because when the mother would return from the hunt, she would regurgitate whatever she ate on the hunt – dogs couldn’t bring home the bacon in a bag for life! They had to carry it in their stomachs. While that may not sound very nice to us, no hungry puppy would ever turn down some partially digested meat.
But there’s a twist! While the face licking may have had a logical explanation in the beginning, but the custom behind the practice has changed over time, now, licking especially mouth licking has become a ritual greeting for dogs. You’ll generally notice that the greetings are combined with wagging tails and other expressions of happiness such as an open mouth.
How Your Dog Can Sniff You Out
However much you shower, and however much perfume/aftershave you use, you absolutely stink to your dog. The part of your body which they will smell the most is your armpit, however, our breath can also emit some strange noxious gasses to our pet.
We all have our own signature odour, and even when we aren’t in the room, our odour will linger in the air – this is how dogs are able to track people with much more accuracy than humans.