Why Does My Dog Lick My Belly Button

Dogs have some of the weirdest habits and their desire to lick your belly button must be one of the strangest. While not all pooches are drawn to your navel region, it’s a common enough occurrence for pet owners to ask – why does my dog lick my belly button?

If your pup likes to sniff or lick your umbilicus area, then read on as we explore the potential reasons and what you should do about it.

The Attraction of Belly Buttons

It’s that this canine obsession with sniffing and licking belly buttons is more common than you’d think. But exactly what is it about that small circular crevice in your tum that drives some dogs wild? And do they have the same reaction to their own belly button?

The Human Belly Button

The belly button is the scar site where the umbilical cord connected the fetus to the placenta. After birth, the placenta is separated from the newborn baby and leaves a hollow dip (or sometimes a raised area) in center of their lower stomach. The belly button has no biological uses and is home to thousands of normally harmless bacteria.

The Canine Belly Button

As well as humans, all placental mammals – those that have an umbilical cord when born – have a belly button. In pups, this cord is instinctively chewed off by the mamma dog, leaving a small scar that forms the belly button.

A dog’s belly button is not so obvious as a human’s because they are much smaller and hidden by fur. If you are unsure where your dog’s own belly button is, look for a small tuft of fur on their tummy and gently press on it – you should feel a little lump of scar tissue underneath the hair.

Your dog should be indifferent to their own navel, but if they are being over-attentive of the belly button area or you find your dog excessively licking their belly, then it’s worth getting them checked out. Over-bathing, dry skin, poor diet, food allergies, and environmental factors such as a change in their bedding can all cause irritation to this area.

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Tongue

Reasons Why Your Dog Likes to Lick Your Belly Button

Our dogs love to spend time with us, and that often means they like to get up close and personal. But your furry friend also has a super-sharp sense of smell which can detect any changes in our odor, and even our taste.

So, if your pup is suddenly very interested in your stomach area, then there’s something happening to trigger their senses or capture their attention. The main reasons why dogs lick belly buttons include:

They Are Being Affectionate

Dogs often lick when trying to show affection, and that dip in your tummy could be an irresistible draw. If your dog starts to lick your exposed tum – or anywhere else on your body – when you return home or show them attention, then it could be a sign that they are very happy to see you.

They Are Anxious

Another reason for your dog licking your belly button is that they are stressed or anxious. The act of licking can help your pooch release some of the feelgood hormones, endorphins which can calm them down.

Separation anxiety, a new environment, or feeling overwhelmed can all cause anxiety in canines and his licking could be his way to self-soothe. Other signs, such as submissive body language, panting, and avoiding eye contact could confirm that anxiety is the cause of his belly button licking habit.

They Are Bored

Lack of physical or mental stimulation can lead to boredom in dogs, which in turn can trigger repetitive or obsessive behavior. As well as excessive chewing, obsessive licking – whether that’s of themselves or a body part of their dog owners – can be a sign that you have a bored dog on your hands.

You’ve Just Worked Out

Have you ever noticed that after an exercise session, your dog seems very interested in licking you, especially if you have not yet had time to get into the shower?

Your body produces more oils and salts in response to physical exertion, which sit on your skin, or find refuge in the dip that is your belly button. With their heightened sense of taste and smell, your dog is drawn to these salts, oil, and body moisture, and will often try to lick them off you.

Hormonal Changes

Their incredible sense of smell means your doggo can also detect subtle changes in your body’s chemistry, including hormones. There are many reports of dogs sensing their owner’s pregnancy, often before their human knew about it themselves.

These subtle hormonal changes are beyond what humans can smell, but your pooch can pick them up. And it is often shown by the way a pet is suddenly drawn to his owner’s tum, including their belly button, and a desire to sniff and be near the area.

Pregnant Woman Belly With Dog

Your Belly Button Could Be Dirty

Ok, there’s no easy way to put this – one of the main reasons why your dog wants to lick your belly button is that is it irresistibly dirty! And that canine sense of smell means that with your mucky navel, you are potentially a tasty treat he simply must try to lick.

The human belly button is capable of harboring plenty of sweat and dirt and has oil-releasing glands that accumulate on your body. And if they are not sufficiently cleaned out, this clogged up crevice can create a smell that your dog can quickly detect – and want to lick.

Tackle poor hygiene of the belly button area by thorough washing and then drying to reduce the bacteria build-up in your belly button and keep it sweet-smelling and off your pup’s radar.

You May Have a Health Issue

With their super noses, your pooch may have detected an issue with your belly button area and wants to lick as a way of helping or drawing your attention to where there could be a problem.

Using their noses, dogs can detect something called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in the human body. These compounds are produced by your body when it is experiencing changes due to external factors, diet, environmental toxins or illness and disease. Studies have shown that dogs have been able to detect these chemical changes, for example, in the bodies of people with prostate cancer and diabetes.

If you suddenly find your dog sniffing or obsessively licking your belly button, they could be picking up on something wrong.

Health issues you may experience with your belly button can include:


A bacterial infection of your belly button can cause a bad smelling discharge which catches the attention of your dog. You may also have other signs that things are infected in the navel area, including pain, redness, swelling or yellow pus.


Yeast infections, such as candidiasis, can cause a discharge from your belly button. Signified by a red, sore rash around the area as well as a thick white discharge in more severe cases, this yeast infection is often seen in people with diabetes.


If you have recently had abdominal surgery, you can be at risk of developing an associated infection which could create a smell your dog can detect. But as a post-surgery infection can be serious, it’s essential that you do not let your pet anywhere near the wound.

Signs of a post-operative infection near to or in the belly button includes tenderness, redness, and yellow pus, as well as fever and feeling generally unwell.

Sebaceous cyst

When one of the oil-releasing glands in your navel gets blocked or infected you may develop something called a sebaceous cyst. Depending on the level of infection, these cysts can be raised, red and painful, and can result in a bad smelling discharge coming from your navel, attracting the unwanted attentions of your dog.

Umbilical hernia

It’s possible to develop an umbilical hernia where a portion of your intestine pops through a small pocket in the abdominal muscles near to the umbilical ring. In most cases this bulge is harmless, but it can cause issues with blood supply, leading to pain and tissue damage. An operation may be needed to remove the damage tissue and repair the opening in the muscle wall.

How to Deter Your Dog From Its Licking Belly Button Habit

If you suspect a health reason behind your dog’s interest in sniffing or licking your belly button, then seek medical advice to nip both the cause and your dog’s behavior in the bud.

Alternatively, if these dog licks are a nuisance or becoming obsessive, then there are a few steps you can take to stop their interest in belly buttons in its tracks.


As soon they go in for a lick, divert your dog’s attention by giving them a toy, a treat or play a game with them. This will shift his attention from his belly buttons obsession.


Reinforce basic commands so he associates them with his belly buttons fetish. You want the words ‘stop’ or ‘sit’ to halt his desire to lick belly buttons and bring him back under control.

Ignore Their Behavior

One of the simplest ways to counter your dog licking is to simply ignore it in the first place. So, when he comes in for a lick, turn or walk away so he comes to realize his belly button licking is an unwanted and annoying behavior.

Give Them The Attention They Crave

As their excessive licking may be their way to get attention, then make sure you are giving them enough of your time each day to make them happy. This means lots of love, regular hugs, and positive reinforcement, including treats, walks and playing games to let your pup know that you love and care.

While it’s fine occasionally, a dog smelling or giving your belly button a good lick on a regular basis is not desirable behavior. if you’re in any doubt about the cause of your dog’s drive to lick belly buttons or you have tried the tips above to no avail, do take your pooch to the vet for a checkup. They can rule out any underlying issues and give you the best advice on how to stop your dog licking belly buttons once and for all.


  1. Anxiety and Compulsive Behavior in Dogs  PetMD

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