fbpx

Why Does My Dog Lick the Carpet? 

Dog Training Icon

Dog Behavior By Ben Team 4 min read November 18, 2019 14 Comments

why does my dog lick carpet

As pet owners, we accept the fact that our dogs do strange things — it’s 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.

There’s one especially strange behavior that seems to be part of the domestic dog’s DNA: licking the carpet.

why does my dog lick carpet

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 — excessive licking syndrome – for the condition. Afflicted dogs don’t limit their licking behavior to the floor – they may lick virtually any surface in your home, including the walls, furniture and their own crate.

It is important to distinguish between isolated instances of floor-licking behavior and the nearly constant, obsessive licking that characterizes excessive licking syndrome. While the former is rarely any cause for concern, the latter can be indicative of serious health problems.

Reasons Your Dog May Be Licking the Carpet

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

  • Something tasty or interesting was spilled on the carpet. Your dog interacts with the world differently than humans do. 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. Accordingly, they’ll readily taste and sniff novel items, instead of giving them the kind of visual inspection you or I would.
  • Your dog is feeling anxious, depressed or bored. Emotional pain can manifest in a number of different ways, and because dogs use their mouths to learn about and interact with the world, things like destructive chewing and carpet licking can arise from emotional distress. Similarly, canine dementia, physical pain and neurological problems can also cause your dog to spend extended periods licking the floor.
  • Your dog has a gastrointestinal disease or issue. Historically, researchers and veterinarians have considered floor licking to be a behavioral or emotional issue. 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.

Is Carpet Licking a Serious Problem?

Your dog is going to lick a lot of things over the course of her life, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to stop her from doing so.

Yes, there is a small chance she could ingest something harmful, like a long carpet fiber, a harmful residue or pathogenic bacteria. But the odds of such eventualities are rather low for dogs that only engage in casual and infrequent licking.

why dog licking floor

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.

The size and health status of your dog also factors into the issue. For example, a 5-pound Chihuahua may suffer a serious intestinal obstruction from swallowing a long carpet fiber, but a 150-pound Great Dane may pass the same fiber without issue.

Additionally, smaller animals are more likely to get sick from germs or hazardous products that may be on the floor.

If you have a dog who is constantly licking the floor, you may need to be particularly careful to use a pet-safe floor cleaner to avoid your dog licking up toxic ingredients.

Putting A Stop To Your Dog’s Carpet Licking

With a little trial and error, you can probably stop isolated cases of floor- or carpet-licking behavior, however, more serious cases will require veterinary attention.

Some potential solutions may include:

  • Spraying surfaces your dog likes to lick with a deterrent, such as Grannick’s Bitter Apple spray or Bohdi Dog’s Bitter Lemon Spray. These and similar products may stop your dog from licking the carpet, but you should always test such products on an inconspicuous area of the carpet first, to ensure they won’t cause discoloration.
  • Being more careful about crumbs and spill You’re not a kid anymore, and this isn’t your college dorm – clean up your place and stop seeding your carpet with delicious morsels. You can’t blame a dog for taking advantage of those tasty crumbs!
  • Increasing the amount of exercise and play your dog enjoys. Many behavioral problems arise from insufficient exercise and stimulation, so by simply lengthening your pup’s walks or tossing the ball for a few more minutes each day, you may be able to stop the behavior altogether.
  • Veterinary care may be necessary to eliminate the underlying problem. If your dog’s floor-licking habits are the result of a medical issue, you’ll need to address the problem with your vet to have any chance of rectifying the licking issue.

While it won’t help much with licking, we also recommend purchasing a short-haired rug that’s more suited for pet ownership. That, along with a strong pet vacuum, will help keep your home clean and tidy despite dogs running around!

***

Have you ever had to deal with a dog that can’t stop licking the furniture? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Let us know if your vet was able to determine the cause and what steps you took to fix the problem.

why-do-dogs-like-to-be-petted
Recommended For You

Why Do Dogs Like to Be Petted?

Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

Dog

Join our pup pack!

Get tons of great dog training advice and tips about gear!

Mailbox

Leave a Comment

Name
Email Address
Website
Comment

14 Comments

Jimmie

Rocky did not start licking the floor until after he’s had a couple of some kind of seizures it looks like

Reply
Meg Marrs

Sounds scary Jimmie! How is Rocky doing now?

Reply
Cj

My rotti keeps licking the carpet has been to the vet is healthy don’t know why he keeps doing this???

Reply
Vanessa

Our red heeler licks the floor when one of us is away, or, if she is bored. I hazard a guess that more physical exercise is needed, and some reinforcement training to help with her separation anxiety.

Reply
Elizabeth C Place

My dog died after surgery that was supposed to remove an obstruction in his bowel. He was a Pug. It was a gastric bezoar consisting of hair. She removed at least 6″ of small bowel. He went into septic shock after the vet told me he was stable. He was 5 yrs old.

Reply
Marian Campo

I have been worried my baby is acting like that . Went outside and ate grass and came inside and up chucked a bunch of hair ….. I have my luggage out leavings in the am . Just let Daddy watch out .He is sleeping and seems to be fine . Thank you for your help

Reply
Carolyn Smith

What kind of people food should a dog not eat?

Reply
Andrew

All of it.

Reply
Judi Gill

I have four dogs all different breeds and they all lick the carpet in different areas of the house. constantly. Are they lacking a vitamin? The area they are licking is absolutely clean.

Reply
Alex

If your dog hasn’t typically licked carpets and suddenly starts doing it, bring them to the vet. Our dog soon progressed to trying to eat dirt, and her kidneys has essentially stopped functioning. We had to say goodbye to her today — it was a very rapid decline.

Reply
Jennifer

My husband of more than 17 years passed away in January of 2017. We had already lost our other 2 big dogs, a black lab with German shepherd mix who had a tag-a-long that we saved several years later & just latched on to him like a little brother & followed him everywhere, a small 120 lb. Newfoundland. But when our lab/shepard mix dog had to be put down, it was just 3 1/2 months later that our Newfoundland got Cancer & died, such a fluke of a thing but not at all surprising either since we saw he couldn’t make it without his brother, even though we had our new “saved” lab/pit bull mix who was just as sweet & a precious new cat to add to the family!

Well, I typed in a question & read thru some responses to why my remaining dog licks incessantly, mainly the carpet, her bed or when I’m being nice & let her get up on the couch, she’ll even lick that! Dogs always lick but I’ve never had a dog who licked as much as my baby Figgy & now I’m wondering if perhaps it could be that perhaps she’s joining me in mourning, since these last 2 years have been rather rough for me, as I’m on my own for the first time in a while and I’m now getting older & not working any longer. I have some disabilities so there’s times when I can’t do everything on my own now and have to get help & my dog has been like my rock through all of this and I can’t imagine her not being by my side for everything. We get the mail together, check the oil on the car together, we garden together, it’s always been the 2 of us! She hasn’t played with any of her toys since she was a puppy but that’s been quite a while ago, since many years before my husband passed away, she’s 7 now.

The only thing I can think of to do would be to try those taste “sprays” that would keep her from licking things that I prefer her to not to & if that doesn’t deter her then maybe a visit to the vet will be required. I would hate to lose her, knowing it was something I could have prevented, after all we’ve been through!

As I’m typing this, I’ve had to clear my throat several times, (which is MY way of) nonchalantly letting her know I’m getting irritated with her costant licking! I don’t believe it’s productive to yell at animals (or children or anyone!) to get something accomplished when it can be done in a much better way that’s much more loving & you can make it fun or laugh or somehow make it seem like a game or a learning lesson.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome! Take care!

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hi Jennifer – I’d definitely try some treat-dispensing toys to give your dog something better to do than lick. She might be bored or stressed and self-soothing. My dog adores the Starmark treat dispensing ball – he rolls it around and treats come out. You might also try a snuffle mat, as sniffing is a soothing exercise for dogs. Good luck!

Reply
Buddy

My toy poodle licks the carpet if I’m using my rainmate air purifier or if his tummy is upset

Reply
Connie Caraway

I have a 15 year old beagle mix. I am not able to walk her anymore due to illness. Mine. She has an enlarged liver and numerous small lumps on her. She has always licked, but is doing it more and more now. She has a doggie door and can go out when needed. About six months ago we got her a companion dog, thinking this might give her more exercise playing and it does, but it is twice her size. Any one have any more ideas to stop the licking

Reply

Also Worth Your Time