11 Reasons Why Is Your Dog Rubbing Face On Things

11 Reasons Why Is Your Dog Rubbing Face On Things

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Apr 27 2023


As dog owners, we are used to seeing our dogs exhibit strange behaviors, and while some can be perfectly normal for them (although to us, it may seem odd), others can indicate that something is bothering them. One of those behavior is rubbing their faces against different things such as furniture, ground, walls, and other objects. This behavior could indicate that something is bothering your dog, and in order to help him, you will have to understand why your dog does it. For some dogs, the reason could be as simple as an itchy face, while for others, you must look closer to understand the reason.

Here are the 11 most common reasons why dogs could start rubbing their faces on different things.

What is the purpose of dog face rubbing?

If a dog continuously rubs their face on something, they may be experiencing an issue. It's possible that the rubbing isn't harmful if it's only happening occasionally. Dogs can do it for various reasons, including an eye injury or a bad tooth, fleas or allergies, or simply because it feels good. Here are the most common reasons dogs rub their face on different surfaces.

1. Something bothers him

Your dog may start rubbing their face on something to rid of irritants like dirt, water, or food. This usually happens after a meal, a game of fetch in the backyard, a bath, or a swim. A dog that is rubbing its face because something irritating is stuck there is not in distress but may require a little help wiping its face clean.

2. Allergies

The itching and rubbing of a dog's face can point to an allergic reaction. Inflammation of the skin can cause itchy skin or eyes in dogs, so they may rub their faces in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort. If your pooch has an allergy, it could be to something they ate or something in the immediate environment that might bother them, like dust mites, various grasses, or pollen. It's possible that the behavior is constant or only appears during certain times of the year. Additionally, a dog with allergies is likely to experience itchy and/or bad-smelling ears, itchy paws, hind legs, and skin changes such as redness and/or thickened skin.

spaniel face

3. Ticks, mites, and fleas

Fleas, mites like scabies, and ticks are some of the external parasites that can cause itchiness in dogs. There are a variety of parasites that can infect a dog and cause itching, but not all parasites do so. Fleas and mites are traditionally the itchiest, causing itching not only on the face but throughout the body as well. Parasite preventative medications can keep your dog free of skin parasites. A veterinarian should be consulted if a dog appears exceptionally itchy.

4. New collar

When wearing a new collar or one that is too tight, a dog may try to relieve their discomfort by rubbing their faces and neck against various objects. Any new collar for a dog should be checked for tightness or discomfort. A dog's collar may require adjustment or removal if it hasn't been worn and cleaned in a while or if the dog has gained weight or has grown. The collar is the proper size if you can slip two fingers under your dog's collar without a problem.

5. Pain

Dogs can rub their faces to alleviate toothache, mouth, nose, or ear pain. Dental pain can cause dogs to chew on one side of their mouths, eat less, or both. Having a bad odor, bloody saliva, and a tendency to spit out food can all be signs of dental issues.

When teeth become loose, broken, or infected, they need to be removed by a veterinarian. Dogs may also rub their faces to alleviate ear pain. A foul odor and redness in the ear are common symptoms of ear infections. Dogs that lick their faces because of pain should be immediately taken to a veterinarian.

fluffy dog running

6. Good feeling

Dogs are similar to us regarding different textures and fabrics. Dogs love rubbing them. In fact, they might try rubbing their faces on them. Dog owners who confirmed no medical reasons behind their dog's face rubbing can conclude their dogs do it because it simply feels good.

7. Low levels of calcium

Itching and face rubbing can also be caused by hypocalcemia, a condition in which the dog's calcium levels are too low. The dog will experience other symptoms, like seizures, restlessness, twitching, aggression, excessive urination, and drinking. Any dog showing these symptoms should be taken to the vet immediately for a diagnosis and treatment.

8. Brain tumors

Brain tumors might not be the most common cause of face rubbing. When a brain tumor presses on the brain's nerves, it can cause discomfort or pain. Many other symptoms can point to a brain tumor without causing the dog pain or discomfort. Some of the symptoms are seizures, vision and hearing changes, and behavioral issues. Even if your dog doesn't experience any of the above symptoms, a brain tumor could still be lurking somewhere in its brain. You should take your dog to the vet if these symptoms are present.

9. Itchy eyes

In dogs, a painful or itchy eye can be caused by various factors, including foreign objects getting stuck in the eye, an ulcer forming on the cornea, dry eyes, or allergies. If a dog feels any of these things, it may start rubbing their eye or their entire face. Dogs with eye irritation frequently paw at or close their eyes as a form of self-preservation. If you suspect eye issues, you should take your dog to the vet immediately to alleviate the discomfort and prevent further complications.

dog sleeping on pillow

10. Pleasant smell

A dog's nose is extremely sensitive, and if they come across a scent they like, they may dive in face first and rub their entire body in it. While the item's scent may not be appealing to humans, it may be heavenly for canines. A common example is an animal carcass. It's essential to remove any potential health hazards, such as carcasses or droppings that your dog might try to eat.

11. Territory marking

If dogs want to mark their territory, they can urinate, defecate, or even rub their body or face on something. Pheromones invisible to the naked eye are left behind when a dog rubs on things like carpets, furniture, or other surfaces in your home. While humans are unable to detect pheromones, other dogs won't have a problem with that.

What should you do if your dog constantly rubs its face?

While occasional face rubbing shouldn't concern you too much, persistent rubbing can indicate an underlying health issue. Here are a few steps you can take to understand what is causing your dog to behave this way

1. Examine your dog's face

Look for any signs of redness, swelling, discharge, or even foreign objects that can be stuck in the dog's eyes, mouth, or ears. Also, check your dog's skin for any signs of rashes, cuts, or insect bites.

2. Allergies

Keep a close track of when the rubbing occurs so you can notice if it's related to environmental changes such as being outside or exposure to certain foods.

3. Dental problems

Tooth pain, gum disease, or even an abscess can cause your dog to rub its face. Check your dog's mouth for any signs of dental issues, including bad breath, swelling of the gums, or loose teeth.

4. Parasites

Fleas, ticks, and mites can cause different skin irritation and lead to face rubbing. Examine your dog's fur and skin for any signs of parasites and provide proper treatment.

5. Eye problems

Different eye problems, such as conjunctivitis and dry eye, can cause irritation and lead to face rubbing. Look for redness, discharge from the eye, and squinting.

When you should worry?

As a dog owner, you must understand when the rubbing is becoming serious and when to seek help. Here are a few situations where you should immediately contact your vet and schedule a meeting

  1. If the rubbing is accompanied by other symptoms like hair loss, bleeding, or intense scratching.
  2. If your dog is in obvious pain or distress.
  3. If the rubbing doesn't improve or worsens over time.

In any case, we recommend contacting your vet and asking for advice. They can quickly help you diagnose the main issue behind the face rubbing and recommend the best treatment option for your dog.

World Dog Finder team

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