Have you ever been sitting on your couch watching TV only to hear a slurping sound? You look around to find your dog is licking the carpet!
It may seem odd to you, but to your canine buddy, there’s a perfectly logical explanation. We’re here to shed some light on your dog’s weird behavior and answer the question ‘why does my dog lick the carpet?’ once and for all.
Let’s get started.
What’s probably a source of irritation for you is pretty common for your dog. Remember that dogs use their tongues to get a better understanding of their surroundings.
A dog’s tongue contains more sensory cells, aka taste buds, than cats, but not as many as we do. Yet, what boosts their sensory abilities is their noses.
A canine nose has over 300 million olfactory receptors. That’s about 240 million more than us, which gives you an idea of how strong their senses are.
These work to equip canines with the ability to detect tastes and smells humans can’t. It’s why they’re always using their tongues so much.
The problem is that this innocent behavior can turn into an unhealthy habit. If left unchecked, it can be stressful for both your dog and you.
Here are some possible reasons behind your canine’s weird behavior.
Have you or your kids been snacking? Did you recently have a party or get-together? Then, most likely, something yummy got spilled on the carpet and you forgot all about it.
Your pooch will pick up on the scent, thanks to their strong sense of smell. They won’t stop until they’ve licked up every last bit of whatever’s leftover on the floor.
Does your dog flinch at every little sound? Are their eyes open wide and their pupils are dilated? This means they’re stressing out about something.
You’ll know when your pup is calm and comfortable when they look like they’re smiling. In addition, their ears will fold back and they’ll have a relaxed demeanor and appearance.
If your dog is licking the carpet, the reason could be emotional. If they’re anxious, stressed out, or depressed, they’ll act out in strange ways like licking the carpet.
Has anything new or unfamiliar happened lately in your home? Did you move recently? Or maybe you got a new pet and your pup is having trouble adjusting.
In situations like this, try and keep your dog’s regular routine as much as you can. Keep their personal and familiar belongings nearby to help maintain normalcy as much as you can.
Dementia and neurological problems can also be a couple of viable causes. Check with your vet to rule out cognitive problems.
Check out the following ideas to help reduce your pooch’s stress and anxiety:
- Give your dog a high-quality diet
- Make sure they get lots of playtime outdoors and physical exercise
- Create a ‘safe area’ where your pup can go if things get too much for them to handle
- Show your dog some love with some cuddles and a massage
- Set aside time to spend with your four-legged best friend
Is your dog showing signs of separation anxiety? If your pup can’t stand being away from you for long periods of time, licking the carpet can be a coping mechanism.
Studies show that the licking process triggers the release of feel-good hormones in your canine’s brain, especially endorphins. These chemicals soothe your dog and make them calmer.
Aside from separation anxiety disorder, licking the carpet is a sure way to get your attention. The best thing you can do for your pooch is to dedicate some time for the two of you.
Take him on long walks and play with them more. More importantly, make sure you shower them with love and attention.
Most likely, your dog is going to be on its own for several hours during the day. Even if you work from home, there will be times when you’re just too busy to play fetch whenever your pup feels like it.
Having said that, it’s equally important we emphasize how vital physical activity is for your dog. It keeps them active, healthy, and fit.
Moreover, it burns off some of that pent-up energy that drives both you and your canine crazy. Plus, it gets them to engage in fun games and exercises that kill off their boredom.
If you have to be at work most hours of the day, why not hire a walking service or dog sitter? Taking your pup to doggie daycare is another great option.
These daycares allow your pooch to interact with other dogs and people. They can also get the training, exercise, and mental stimulation it needs.
Sadly, some canines suffer from mental problems that go far beyond daily stress and anxiety. According to experts, a common, long-term canine mental illness is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Some dog breeds are even predisposed to this illness. For example, Doberman pinschers and bull terriers are more susceptible to OCD.
These breeds typically have a specific gene located on chromosome 7. This gene makes them vulnerable to OCD.
Here are some other possible causes of OCD:
- A diet rich in calcium
- Lack of blood flow
- Hormonal factors
- Rapid growth.
Medical issues can also be the reason behind your dog’s behavior.
According to researchers, there’s a link between excessive licking and gastrointestinal issues. The most common one is that your dog could be nauseous.
If they’re outside, they’ll instinctively head to any grassy area. Otherwise, they’ll just use the carpet.
Dogs inherently lick random surfaces when they’re nauseous and feeling sick. It helps induce vomiting.
Here’s something else to consider: underlying dental health issues. If your pup has an ulcer or a broken tooth, it could be a source of pain. To try and numb the pain, they may be rubbing their mouth against the floor and licking the carpet.
Another possible reason is a condition known as Excessive Licking of Surfaces (ELS). It involves licking all types of surfaces, not just carpets.
The good news is that, with the right treatment, your dog can make a full recovery and be cured of all ELS behaviors.
Some of the factors causing ELS include the following:
- Acid reflux
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Delayed gastric emptying
- Chronic pancreatitis
There are several easy ways you can put a stop to your dog’s behavior. Read ahead to find out more.
You can try spraying deterrents on the carpet to keep your pooch away. These sprays are usually designed to keep pets away from certain areas.
It’s important to mention that you shouldn’t spray anything directly on the dog. Some of these sprays can cause skin irritations or burn their eyes and nose.
Even from afar, your pup won’t be able to stand the smell. They’ll know better than to come any closer.
Most of these deterrents have a bitter, citrusy aroma that dogs hate. The most popular come in scents like sour apples or bitter lemons.
Here are several other smells dogs can’t stand:
- Chili peppers
- Rubbing alcohol
- White vinegar
- Fresh herbs
- Household cleaners
Another option is to be more diligent about cleaning up. Pick up crumbs and wipe away spills daily.
This way, your pup won’t find any scents of leftover foods to pick up on. Try to use household cleaners to wipe away leftovers and keep your dog away from the carpet.
If your dog isn’t getting the right amount of mental and physical stimulation they need, it could be that they have pent-up energy. If they don’t know where to direct it, they’ll just take it out on your carpet.
Why not introduce your pup to some new toys and interactive games? Many options on the market are designed to boost your dog’s physical and mental abilities.
These toys are the perfect combination of fun and entertainment. They’ll help kill your pup’s boredom while getting them up and moving.
‘Why does my dog lick the carpet?’ is actually more common than you might think. Yet, it’s nothing to worry about, as long as it’s not a daily occurrence.
If it is, you have to deal with it early on, especially if it’s accompanied by other health issues. Start by taking your pooch to the vet.
The most important thing your vet will do is rule out any underlying medical conditions. If your pup needs medical treatment, they’ll prescribe something to help treat its illness.
On the other hand, if this behavior is caused by emotional issues, your vet can determine what’s making your pooch behave this way. They’ll also give you tips on how to manage your dog’s licking habits.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.