I've heard that one reason dogs lick their owners is for the salt on our skin.

Further, I've heard that salt is a relatively rare substance in nature, i.e. wolves probably don't get much salt in the wild. This is part of the reason that it tastes so good to us, it's rare enough that we are biologically wired to get as much as we can. Thus, I imagine most wild animals have low daily salt requirements.

The modern human diet is very salt heavy. I imagine we've developed a moderate resistance to salt over the millennia and had higher salt needs all along because we sweat salt, which I understand is rather unusual for animals. This salt we sweat out stays on our skin where our pets can lick it off.

Dogs probably have lower salt needs that humans because they don't sweat. However, they probably have higher daily salt intake than most wild animals because they evolved to live around humans and our salty foods. Do dogs get a significant portion of their daily salt from their owners?

tldr; are we mobile salt licks for our pets?


It's pretty common knowledge that dogs are domesticated wolves. We domesticate animals by selectively breeding for certain traits, especially having to do with the animal's temperament in order to make it more tame. As a result dogs in many ways behave like wolf puppies even when they are adults. One of these behaviors is particular is licking pack members on the face. Wolf puppies do this when the pack returns to the den from hunting. This behavior encourages the adults to regurgitate their food so that the puppies may eat after weaning but before they're big enough to hunt themselves. Dogs lick people because they never outgrow this instinctual behavior, and not because they want salt in particular.

  • Nice, I had heard that about regurgitating food, and have done it for my dog before. She was stoked.
    – Alex
    Nov 26 '19 at 2:41

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