Why Do Dogs Lick the Carpet?

Among the many odd things dogs do, licking the carpet may rank as one of the oddest. Yet, dogs don’t just start carrying out behaviors for no rhyme nor reason. There is almost always an underlying cause at play, only that unlocking it isn’t always as straightforward as thought.

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Valerie Tynes suggests recording footage for at least 10 to 15 minutes and including in the video what happens when the dog is left to perform the behavior and what happens when interrupted. Nausea and/or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can play a primary role in excessive licking behaviors in dogs.

However, sometimes dogs may just get nausea due to some dietary indiscretion, stress or an abrupt change in diet. Excessive licking behaviors can also stem from an underlying problem with the dog’s teeth, gums or mouth. If your dog allows you, it may be worth checking his mouth to see whether there is anything embedded or if there may be a loose tooth or a reddened gum.

Conditions worthy of mentioning include diabetes, hypoadrenocorticism or hyperadrenocorticism, and pancreas problems just to name a few. Prednisone and other types of steroids have been reported to increase appetite in dogs sometimes leading at times to odd behavior changes. “The word obsession means there are intrusive and repetitive thoughts, which cant be confirmed in dogs,” points out veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kelly Ballantyne.

Just like people who will wash their hands over and over or repeatedly double-check things, such as locks, appliances, and switches, dogs may engage in certain behaviors over and over due to a mental problem. The veterinarian may wish to rule out medical problems, but if none are found, a veterinary behaviorist may help sort out whether there may a compulsive issue at play. A dog with little stimulation occurring during the day and no outlets for pent-up energy may become stressed and frustrated, leading to excessive licking as a way of coping with the whole situation.

Dogs with noise phobias or exposed to frightening interactions may develop anxiety too, which may result in a behavior problem. Similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, canine cognitive dysfunction typically affects dogs who are middle-aged or older. If the carpet licking behavior appears suddenly in an older dog, it may be stemming from an underlying medical condition, but if nothing leads to this, it is possible for it to be related to some form of cognitive decline.

Other signs may include having accidents around the house, an increase in anxiety possibly expressed through vocalizations and the onset of new fears or phobias. Some dogs may also show changes in their activity levels leading to restlessness and an inability to settle, wandering aimlessly, and even the onset of repetitive behaviors such as licking, explains veterinary behaviorists Dr. Debra Horwitz & Gary Landsberg. Unlike other more well-known disorders, pica remains an issue a bit shrouded in mystery, in other words, to put it more bluntly, it is even poorly understood among veterinarians and other dog professionals.

So if your dog more than licking the carpet is trying to actually take out chunks of it, ingesting it, pica may be on your veterinarians’ list of potential differentials. Last but not least, your dog may be simply licking the carpet because it just smells good or your toddler may have spilled something tasty on it or perhaps walked on all fours after manipulating Jell-O. If this is the case, the licking will just last for a few seconds and generally no more than a few minutes, just enough time to remove the tasty remnants from the carpet.

It goes without saying though that dogs who share the household with small children who drop foods often will learn to lick carpets more and more in hopes of finding tasty treasures! Food can often push grass awns stuck in the esophagus into their stomach, explains veterinarian Dr. B. Licking stemming from anxiety and frustration and that becomes compulsive, requires behavior and environmental modification, possibly along with pharmacologic intervention.

Pica cases may benefit from dietary changes if due to an underlying nutritional issue. Dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction may do better with behavior and environmental modification along with possible drug therapy. University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Compulsive Disorders in Pets DVM360, Help!

My dog licks everything VCA Animal Hospital, Behavior Counseling – Senior Pet Cognitive Dysfunction It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.

Why is my dog licking the floor all of a sudden?

At times, dogs will lick the floor because they are bored or anxious. … After some rigorous play, your dog should start to become tired and this will probably stop them licking for at least a little while. Sometimes dogs will lick obsessively when they are stressed or anxious.

How do I stop my dog from licking the floor?

Your vet may also recommend a calming medication, supplement or product. Also, apply a taste repellent to the floor where your pooch licks. A little ammonia, vinegar, cayenne pepper or citrus should deter licking.

Why does my elderly dog lick the floor?

It could be a sign of the onset of a medical condition or dementia. Licking can also alert you to neurological conditions or anxiety as your older dog becomes disorientated. Excessive licking is linked to nausea, seizures, loss of sight and hearing as well as an obsessivecompulsive disorder.

Why does my dog keep licking the floor and furniture?

Licking the furniture can signal a dog’s anxiety or stress or even a medical condition. A dog may lick furniture because he’s bored. Lacking any other stimulation to engage his mind and body, he might just be trying to pass the time. … Repetitive licking releases endorphins and is a way for dogs to self-soothe.

While some dogs lick things out of boredom, for other dogs, licking can be compulsive, providing a calming and soothing sensation. When licking is a self-stimulating activity, it could also be a sign of anxiousness or discomfort. Other dogs can lick to the point of causing secondary problems.

If you feel your dogs licking has become uncontrollable, it is important to recognize it early on to avoid other problems, as it can be a sign of separation anxiety. Because such behavior can lead to destructive or harmful outcomes, you and your veterinarian can discuss options such as reaching out to professional trainers or an animal behaviorist who can thoroughly evaluate your pet.

Whether its a sign of respect or love for you or the left-behind crumbs from your lunch, your dog finds comfort in licking you. Your dog may also discover that your skin tastes salty from your sweat after a gym session, so they will want to lick it. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of licking, so its good to check with your veterinarian to rule out other issues.

Although it may seem gross, sweat from you or food from a late-night snack can be left behind in the furniture, leaving a wonderful treat your dog can find and enjoy later. Keep your dog entertained and stimulated throughout the day to ensure they do not resort to licking and possibly chewing the floor. Offer lots of playtime and chew toys as alternatives if your dog is fascinated by carpet.

Keep the floor clean and clear of foods or objects, which could be toxic to your dog or result in an obstruction. Finding comfort in familiar toys and surroundings can bring dogs a sense of calmness. Does your furry friend spend the day licking their feet, or an immense amount of time taking care of self-hygiene?

Dog will lick themselves for grooming needs, but it can also be a sign of allergies or other skin conditions , especially if the area is reddened, missing hair, or appears abnormal in any way.

As pet owners, we accept the fact that our dogs do strange things its part of their charm. Some dogs chase their tails, while others like to roll around in the foulest smelling thing they can find in the back yard. My normally fearless Rottie is absolutely petrified of plastic grocery bags.

Whereas we are primarily visual creatures, dogs depend far more heavily on their sense of smell and taste to learn about the world around them. Similarly, canine dementia, physical pain and neurological problems can also cause your dog to spend extended periods licking the floor.

However, a 2008 study found a strong connection between gastrointestinal disease and excessive licking syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome, giardiasis, delayed gastric emptying, foreign bodies and chronic pancreatitis have all been documented to occur in some floor-licking pups. On the other hand, dogs that constantly lick the carpet or floor are at an increased risk for gobbling up something dangerous .

Your dog may lick up enough fibers to clog up her digestive tract, or she may lap up dangerous substances, which can cause her to fall ill.

As dogs grow older, they sometimes start engaging in a behavior that leaves their owners scratching their heads: they start licking everything from the carpet to the furniture. You find yourself wondering Why is my dog licking everything all of a sudden? And then worry that something might be wrong with your canine companion.

So while both medical and behavioral problems can lead to senior dogs licking carpet or furniture, it isnt something to worry about when done just once or twice. Your old dog could also be licking the carpet due to underlying mouth problems such as tooth fractures and ulcers.

To find out if your old dogs excessive licking is due to a compulsive disorder, record the behavior and seek out an experienced veterinary behaviorist. This cognitive decline also results in other senior dog behaviors like irregular sleep-wake cycles, restlessness, and sudden new phobias. Because licking is a common symptom of many disorders, it is essential to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible to address any significant medical conditions that could be causing this behavior.

If your old dog licks the carpet because its nauseous due to acid reflux or has something stuck in his throat, feeding him a little ball of bread can help. More exercise helps with both boredom and pent-up stress and discourages unwanted behaviors like carpet licking. Dont look at or talk to the dog when it starts licking the carpet, and immediately leave the room to discourage it.

Give your old dog something better to lick, like a puppy popsicle or treat-stuffed Kong toy to keep him occupied and away from the carpet. You must include plenty of exercise, frequent vet checkups (at least once or twice a year), vaccinations, and an age-appropriate diet in your care plan to maintain your senior dogs physical and mental well-being. You must also maintain your senior dogs oral health, socialize with him regularly, groom him properly, and make special accommodations for his aging body to help him be more comfortable and live a long and happy life.

And finally, dont forget to consult with your vet before making a senior dog care plan. She is a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs.

Ruling Out Medical Problems

As a dog owner, you may assume this is a harmless behavior, or you may find it mildly annoying, so you may therefore decide to accept it or simply ignore it, however, consider that, in general, a dog who is frantically licking the carpet may be doing so because of not feeling well.Before taking a look at some of these causes it’s therefore important emphasizing the importance of starting a process of exclusion by first having the dog see the vet considering that many odd behaviors can stem from some underlying medical issues.Only once medical problems have been ruled out, it is, therefore, possible to consider that, likely, there is some behavioral issue at play.

Record the Behavior

When taking a dog to the vet because of some odd behavior, the vet will often ask many questions. The more details you provide the better. However, describing dog behaviors accurately is not always easy. For instance, the vet may ask whether the dog is just licking the carpet or attempting to eat it. This little detail can make a lot of difference as you may be dealing with two totally different problems.Recording an episode of your dog’s carpet licking may therefore come quite handy. If a picture is worth 100 words, a video is worth 1,000!Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Valerie Tynes suggests recording footage for at least 10 to 15 minutes and including in the video what happens when the dog is left to perform the behavior and what happens when interrupted.

1) A Matter of Nausea

Nausea and/or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can play a primary role in excessive licking behaviors in dogs.In nature, dogs seek grass when nauseous, leading to dogs eating grass frantically to vomit whatever is making them sick. When indoors, with no access to grass, dogs may therefore think that carpet is the next best thing so they’ll start instinctively licking that.On top of licking the carpet frantically, nauseous dogs will smack their lips often, drool and swallow repeatedly, and some dogs may also lick other surfaces such as floors and furniture. Also, some nauseous dogs will lick their front legs.Your veterinarian will therefore ask you information such as what your dog eats and whether he is taking any supplements or medications.Many medical conditions may cause nausea in dogs. Examples include liver disease, adrenal disorders, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, inflammatory bowel disease and some types of cancer (like intestinal lymphosarcoma). However, sometimes dogs may just get nausea due to some dietary indiscretion, stress or an abrupt change in diet.

2) A Problem in the Mouth/Throat

Excessive licking behaviors can also stem from an underlying problem with the dog’s teeth, gums or mouth. Something stuck in the dog’s mouth may cause drooling and the dog tries to remove excess drool by licking. Pain may also be a culprit.If your dog allows you, it may be worth checking his mouth to see whether there is anything embedded or if there may be a loose tooth or a reddened gum.However, your vet is the best for this as he or she can easily spot abnormalities and has been specifically trained to know what to look for. Sometimes, there may be an issue going on beneath the gum line or in a tooth that’s not easy to see.

Read More From Pethelpful

In some cases, licking the carpet and gulping may be due to something stuck in the dog’s throat. Sometimes a blade of grass or grass awn may be lodged in the dog’s throat causing an unpleasant sensation.Your dog may be therefore licking the carpet due to a tooth root abscess, the presence of a fractured toot, some foreign body stuck in her mouth or throat, an ulcer or anything else that is capable of causing mouth pain.

3) Polyphagia

Polyphagia is simply a medical term used to depict increased food consumption. Affected dogs are often described as having a ravenous appetite. If your dog appears to be eating more than usual, obsessively eating everything like a vacuum cleaner, and is actually trying to eat the carpet, this can be the culprit.There are several medical conditions known to cause polyphagia in dogs. Conditions worthy of mentioning include diabetes, hypoadrenocorticism or hyperadrenocorticism, and pancreas problems just to name a few.Sometimes, medications known to increase a dog’s appetite may also be a culprit. Prednisone and other types of steroids have been reported to increase appetite in dogs sometimes leading at times to odd behavior changes.

4) Neurological Issue

Sometimes, carpet licking can be triggered by something neurological. In particular, primary central nervous system disturbances may be the culprit.Seizures may be to blame. We often think of uncontrolled movements of the whole body as the standard manifestations of seizures, but sometimes seizures may affect only certain body parts or they may present in an uncharacteristic form.For instance, consider limbic epilepsy. The limbic area of the brain is what controls behavior. Dogs affected by limbic seizures will therefore manifest behavior changes rather than typical seizure activity.Dogs with brain tumors, hydrocephalus or suffering from partial motor seizures may also manifest odd behaviors as part of their seizures and carpet licking may be one of them.In general, if your dog’s carpet licking behavior can be interrupted by you calling your dog and you are getting his attention, it is likely not a seizure, explains veterinarian Dr. Gabby.

5) Attention-Seeking Behavior

Sometimes, odd dog behaviors put roots and persist because we shower our dogs with attention when they engage in them. Yes, our attention can reinforce behaviors allowing them to strengthen and repeat.This is often the case with dogs who crave attention, either because they are very fond of it or they lack it and crave it immensely.The typical attention-seeking dog will care less about whether the attention he gets is of the positive type (smiling, laughing, praising, petting the dog) or negative type (giving the evil eye, scolding the dog, pushing him away) as long as it’s attention.These dogs may be bored and under-stimulated and maybe feel even neglected. They may feel lonely during the day and perceive their owner’s return as the biggest perk of the day.Once the owner returns home though and decides to lie on the couch and pay no attention to the dog, the dog may test various behaviors and if carpet licking grants him any form of attention, then bingo, that attention-seeking behavior will repeat and soon becomes a solid part of the dog’s behavior repertoire.

6) Compulsive Disorders

These are out-of-hand behaviors that put roots and become an insidious part of the dog’s behaviors. These behaviors may be difficult to interrupt, especially the more they become ingrained.They are similar to the compulsive obsessive behaviors (OCD) often seen in humans, although in dogs the term obsessive has been dropped since we have no proof dogs have the same thought processing skills as seen in humans.”The word “obsession” means there are intrusive and repetitive thoughts, which can’t be confirmed in dogs,” points out veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kelly Ballantyne.Just like people who will wash their hands over and over or repeatedly double-check things, such as locks, appliances, and switches, dogs may engage in certain behaviors over and over due to a mental problem.While it’s true that a behavior that is difficult to interrupt may more likely stem from a medical problem, one must consider that a true canine compulsive disorder that has been rehearsed for many months or years may be difficult to interrupt too, points Dr. Valerie Tynes.Hence, the importance of recording your dog’s behavior and having it seen by a veterinarian. The veterinarian may wish to rule out medical problems, but if none are found, a veterinary behaviorist may help sort out whether there may a compulsive issue at play.

7) Anxiety

Dogs suffering from anxiety may need to find their own coping mechanisms and sometimes they find relief by engaging in odd behaviors. Dogs who are anxious may therefore lick themselves so much to form what’s known as an acral lick granuloma, and some dogs may start licking other things such as carpets and floors.If your dog licks carpets a whole lot and your dog is an anxious type, report this to your vet. Your vet may ask more details about your dog’s overall general behavior and temperament and how your dog spends his typical day, including how much interactions he receives and whether he suffers from any stresses or phobias.A dog with little stimulation occurring during the day and no outlets for pent-up energy may become stressed and frustrated, leading to excessive licking as a way of coping with the whole situation.Dogs with noise phobias or exposed to frightening interactions may develop anxiety too, which may result in a behavior problem.Report to your vet if there are any recent changes in your dog’s routine or in your schedules as changes are often attributed to the onset of behavior problems.

8) Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

As dogs age, they may become subject to a certain level of cognitive decline, leading to what’s known asIf the carpet licking behavior appears suddenly in an older dog, it may be stemming from an underlying medical condition, but if nothing leads to this, it is possible for it to be related to some form of cognitive decline.In general, affected dogs show other distinctive signs such as getting lost in familiar places, not recognizing familiar people, and irregular sleep-wake cycles. Other signs may include having accidents around the house, an increase in anxiety possibly expressed through vocalizations and the onset of new fears or phobias.Some dogs may also show changes in their activity levels leading to restlessness and an inability to settle, wandering aimlessly, and even the onset of repetitive behaviors such as licking, explains veterinary behaviorists Dr. Debra Horwitz & Gary Landsberg.

9) A Case of Pica

It’s a known fact that dogs may eat the oddest things out there. From dogs eating rocks, to dogs eating socks, vets are no longer surprised about the many odd things they find when they open up dogs during surgeries.While ingesting these things occasionally may be just a testimony to a dog’s history as scavengers, when dogs turn eating non-food stuff into a favorite hobby, they should be checked out for a disorder known as pica.Pica is namely, the eating of non–nutritive, non-food items. Unlike other more well-known disorders, pica remains an issue a bit shrouded in mystery, in other words, to put it more bluntly, it is even poorly understood among veterinarians and other dog professionals.So if your dog more than licking the carpet is trying to actually take out chunks of it, ingesting it, pica may be on your veterinarians’ list of potential differentials.

10) Just Casual Licking

Last but not least, your dog may be simply licking the carpet because it just smells good or your toddler may have spilled something tasty on it or perhaps walked on all fours after manipulating Jell-O.If this is the case, the licking will just last for a few seconds and generally no more than a few minutes, just enough time to remove the tasty remnants from the carpet.Of course, this type of casual licking is nothing to worry about, unless whatever your dog has licked was something potentially toxic.It goes without saying though that dogs who share the household with small children who drop foods often will learn to lick carpets more and more in hopes of finding tasty treasures!

References:

Following are several tips/ideas for dogs who are focused on licking carpets.

Why Dogs Lick Everything

Although licking can be harmless in some cases, it can also signal an issue, whether it’s heath or behavior related.

Behavioral Issues

If your pup doesn’t seem to favor licking just one thing, it’s likely a self-soothing behavior or a compulsive habit. This habit did not start overnight and will not go away quickly. It’s also important to realize that if your dog licks everything, they have also been using licking as a way to communicate to you.Some dogs lick habitually out of boredom. You can help prevent this type of habit from developing by providing your dog lots of stimulation and exercise throughout the day.Try playing fetch outside or going for a walk or run with your pup. Additionally, kennel-training your pup while you are away from home for brief periods can keep them from licking objects in your home that could lead to destructive behavior or ingestion of dangerous objects.If you are having other behavioral issues with your dog, seek assistance from your veterinarian to help rule out potential causes. If you feel your dog’s licking has become uncontrollable, it is important to recognize it early on to avoid other problems, as it can be a sign of separation anxiety.Because such behavior can lead to destructive or harmful outcomes, you and your veterinarian can discuss options such as reaching out to professional trainers or an animal behaviorist who can thoroughly evaluate your pet.

Health Issues

When a dog licks everything, it can also be a sign of infection or gastrointestinal upset. Having your dog checked out by your vet can help you determine if there is an underlying health issue.If you ignore your dog’s licking behavior, it can lead to self-trauma, secondary infections, or unwanted, destructive behaviors. Always speak with your veterinarian if you think your dog is showing signs of an infection, as they may need treatment.

Why Dogs Lick Specific Things

If your dog likes to lick certain things, or they like licking people or other animals, here are some potential reasons behind the behavior.

People

Dogs instinctively lick and groom themselves. Just as mother dogs will lick and clean their pups, some dogs feel the need to lick their favorite person in the world. Whether it’s a sign of respect or love for you or the left-behind crumbs from your lunch, your dog finds comfort in licking you.Your dog may also discover that your skin tastes salty from your sweat after a gym session, so they will want to lick it. They also know that licking you will get your attention, so many dogs will lick you to distract you from whatever else you are focused on so you can pet them.Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of licking, so it’s good to check with your veterinarian to rule out other issues.

Air

Your dog licking at the air does not always come after smelling freshly baked cookies. Dogs can start to lick their lips in anticipation of a meal or a treat.Excessive licking at the air, however, can be the result of a neurologic or compulsive disorder. If your pet has not been evaluated recently by your veterinarian, take them for a physical exam. Your veterinarian will be able to rule out any neurologic diseases as well as dental pain or dental disease, as licking the air can be a sign of discomfort.

Couches/Furniture

Although it may seem gross, sweat from you or food from a late-night snack can be left behind in the furniture, leaving a wonderful treat your dog can find and enjoy later. Dogs will also lick furniture to explore their surroundings and survey the area for any new activity.Keeping your furniture clear of crumbs and cleaning the surfaces can help prevent your furniture from being soaked in saliva.If your dog’s furniture licking appears to be a continuous, compulsive activity, try offering fun and tasty toys or interactive games to keep your dog busy and so they can’t destroy your couch or other furniture. Daily exercise can also burn excess energy that pets may have at the end of the day.

Flooring or Carpet

Dogs may lick the floor or carpet to clean up a mess, but it can lead to destructive behavior where your dog is eating or destroying things. Licking the floor can also become a compulsive habit.Keep your dog entertained and stimulated throughout the day to ensure they do not resort to licking and possibly chewing the floor. Offer lots of playtime and chew toys as alternatives if your dog is fascinated by carpet. Keep the floor clean and clear of foods or objects, which could be toxic to your dog or result in an obstruction.Have your veterinarian examine your dog regularly to rule out diseases as well.

Their Toys

Does your dog suddenly seem fascinated with licking their toys? Although some toys have a tasty covering, some dogs will lick their toys for a soothing sensation, especially after they are reunited with a favorite toy.Finding comfort in familiar toys and surroundings can bring dogs a sense of calmness. Therefore, licking their toys in moderation is typically not a sign of any deeper issue.

Excessive Licking Syndrome: What Does It Mean?

Many dogs lick the occasional carpet, but some dogs are such dedicated floor lickers that veterinarians have coined a term —

Is Carpet Licking a Serious Problem?

There are a variety of reasons your dog may lick the carpet, but the following are some of the most likely causes: