Let’s face it, dogs do some weird things and we don’t always know exactly why. You can’t interrupt them mid-moment and ask them why on earth they’re doing what they’re doing, you’d probably just be answered with a very quizzical look. Every dog is an individual so if you notice that they rub their face along your carpet there could be several reasons.
Perhaps they just enjoy the sensation like a bear scratches itself using a tree.
The only cause for concern is if your dog suddenly starts performing this behavior, it may be linked to something medical so you would need to do a bit of problem-solving to figure out why they’re doing it. If you’ve exhausted all options and had the all-clear from their vet then it’s likely just something they enjoy doing.
Have you ever suffered from hayfever? You might understand how your pup feels if they’re having a flare-up of allergies. Allergies can cause your skin or respiratory system to become irritated or inflamed.
One way your dog may be dealing with their itchy, irritated skin is by finding things to relieve that itching like your carpet to run his against. If they continue doing it for any length of time, you may notice that they start to develop abrasions on their nose and face from the friction of rubbing against your carpets.
If the season has changed or you’ve gone walking somewhere new and this behavior starts seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a good chance that your dog may have come into contact with something they’re sensitive to. When this happens, there’s only one way to determine if your dog has allergies: by taking them to the vet. Your vet will be able to tell you if they do look irritated.
Some vets will want to perform a skin scrape to make sure there’s nothing else going on and will then help you to try to understand what your pet is sensitive to.
Some dogs have mild allergies that flare up from time to time but don’t cause any real issues while some may need a steroid treatment to help them to overcome them.
Is Your Puppy Teething?
Teething is an awful process for dogs, it can cause sore, inflamed gums and make your puppies more sensitive and grumpy than they usually are. Dogs go through this process twice and luckily for us, we miss out on their first round of teething because it generally starts around two to four weeks old when they get their first set of teeth. By the time you take them home, they should have their first teeth through.
The second stage of teething can start around three months of age and they usually have their adult teeth by the time they reach six months though how long the process takes is individual for each puppy.
If your puppy is between the age of three and six months when they start to run their face along the carpet, there’s a good chance that it’s because their adult teeth are coming through and causing their gums to become sore.
During this time puppies will want to relieve the pain of their teeth coming through their gums by biting and chewing things or using furniture or even your carpets to try and rub against to get to that irritable feeling.
You can help your puppy during this period by giving them lots of suitable things to chew on – most pet stores have a selection of teething toys. You can also make sure they have lots of cold water available as the cold can help to soothe inflamed gums.
If they’re really in distress they may need a course of pain relief or anti-inflammatories from their vet.
Issues With Their Teeth or Gums
If your dog is showing the same symptoms but is well beyond teething age, that doesn’t disqualify them from running their face on your carpets for very similar reasons. They may not be teething but if they have an issue inside their mouth, they are likely trying to alleviate the pain by doing the same thing.
It’s like when you have a sore in your mouth, you can help but push your tongue against it and for a moment it feels better.
When your dog is rubbing its face on your carpet, it’s going to give a second of relief from any tooth or gum pain.
Dental and gum disease is common among small breed and older dogs but any dog at any age can get it. If your dog develops this new habit of running its face on your floor, be sure to check its mouth. You’re looking for any teeth that show obvious signs of decay.
They’re dark and rotten looking or if they’ve injured a tooth and split it to expose a nerve, you may notice this too. Gum disease in dogs will make their gums look red and sore. If you spot any of these, make sure you take them to the vet to get them treated as soon as possible.
Similarly, while you’re checking, if your dog is an avid stick chaser, check for any pieces of toys or sticks that can get wedged up in the roof of their mouth or between their teeth that could be irritating them.
If you’ve checked your dog’s mouth after they’ve developed a habit of running their face along your carpet and can’t detect anything that may be irritating them, your next place to investigate should be their ears.
Your dog’s ear canal goes quite far beyond the opening we can easily see. They travel down into their skull where their eardrum is located just behind their cheek and below their eye.
This means their canal is traveling down the side of their heads. If they have an ear infection or a foreign object inside of their canal, this will cause irritation along their face which can cause them to run against your carpets.
An ear infection will usually present itself with other symptoms like a head shake as well as they try and dislodge whatever is causing them to feel uncomfortable. You can’t always see too far into the ear but try shining a light into their ear to see if you can see a build-up of debris of any kind. Dogs should have their ears routinely cleaned to rid them of any excess wax buildup.
If they become infected, they will need medical treatment to overcome it.
Any parasites that can cause skin irritation are a likely cause of your dog feeling the need to use your carpet as a tool to scratch their faces. Fleas are probably the most likely culprits. If your dog has a flea infestation you may notice they spend a lot of time scratching and finding sometimes quite ingenious ways of relieving the incessant itchiness caused by the pests.
One of those ways may very well be running their face along your carpet. There’s an easy fix for this one although it’s usually harder to fix if your dog has fleas and easier to prevent. By keeping your dog up to date on their antiparasitic treatments, you’ll avoid this risk entirely.
If your dog does contract fleas, you will have to treat them but also treat your house as fleas can live on other surfaces for short times between hosts.
Is There Something on Your Carpet?
Another thing you should be conscious of is whether you’ve applied anything to your carpet recently. If you wash your carpets every once in a while and only then does your dog start to rub its face on it, it’s very likely that they just like the smell. Does your dog roll in fox or horse poo out on walks?
Have they rolled in a disgusting dead carcass you’ve come across on your adventures before? Dogs’ ancestors used to roll in scents to mask their own and to take them back to their packs to show what they had found. Though we aren’t entirely sure why this trait remains, some dogs are more likely to roll in smells they find interesting although the ones they choose can sometimes be quite offensive to us.
Chances are if you’ve washed your carpets, treated them, or even just spilled something on them, your dog might be rubbing their face on the new smell because they like it.
If you’ve gone through every possible medical issue that could be detrimental to your dog and found that they’re fit and well but still running their face on your carpet, it’s likely they either just enjoy the sensation or enjoy the smell. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them doing it but if you don’t want to encourage the behavior, try to pay as little attention to it as possible.
What started as a good smell can develop into attention-seeking behavior if you make a big fuss of your dog when they do it.
If you simply ignore it and walk away, nothing positive has come from you from that interaction. Provided there are no medical issues, the behavior itself isn’t usually very damaging, and face it, your dog could be finding worse things to rub their face on, just ask mine with his love of finding dead things while out on a walk!