Dog Licking Carpet Frantically

Dog licking can be a very frustrating experience for a pet owner. Whether a dog is licking their paws, their pet parents, or the furniture, it’s an odd quirk that can be irksome for owners. And when it comes to licking, dogs often like licking surfaces, like the carpet, or the floor.

The question is: why? What are some of the reasons for this obsessive dog behavior? There are several reasons – some are relatively harmless; others could be a cause for concern.

A dog licking a carpet, or anything else, over and over again could be a sign of stress.1 This bad habit could be a sign you need to take action before the problem becomes worse.

When dogs are feeling good, you know it. Sometimes, dogs will almost even seem like they’re smiling at you. An anxious dog, however, will often give off negative signs. They might, for example, constantly be licking surfaces around your home. They might also start panting, or drooling excessively.2

Sometimes when dogs are feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed they can act out in terms of licking. Boredom, too, can be a reason that your dog has taken to licking the carpet. Other factors for constant floor licking could be canine dementia, physical discomfort, or neurological problems.

2) A Problem in the Mouth/Throat

Excessive licking behaviors can also stem from an underlying problem with the dogs teeth, gums or mouth. Something stuck in the dogs 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 thats not easy to see.

In some cases, licking the carpet and gulping may be due to something stuck in the dogs throat. Sometimes a blade of grass or grass awn may be lodged in the dogs 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.

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 dogs 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.

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 dogs 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.

Is you dog licking the carpet or actual food from the carpet?

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 its attention.

These dogs may be bored and under-stimulated and maybe feel even neglected. They may feel lonely during the day and perceive their owners 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 dogs behavior repertoire.

These are out-of-hand behaviors that put roots and become an insidious part of the dogs 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 its 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 out Dr. Valerie Tynes.

Hence, the importance of recording your dogs 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.

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 whats 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 for more details about your dogs overall general behavior and temperament and how your dog spends his typical day, including how many 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 dogs routine or in your schedules as changes are often attributed to the onset of behavior problems.

As dogs age, they may become subject to a certain level of cognitive decline, leading to whats known as canine cognitive dysfunction. Similar to Alzheimers 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.

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.

Its 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 might be nothing more than a testimony to a dogs 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.

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!

Tips to Reduce Carpet Licking in Dogs

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

  • See your vet to rule out or confirm medical conditions. Bring along a recording of the behavior.
  • If your dog seems nauseous due to acid reflux, feeding a little ball of bread may help absorb any acid giving quick relief. See your vet though if this happens often.
  • Feeding some bread may also help if you suspect your dog has a grass awn stuck in his throat. Food can often push grass awns stuck in the esophagus into their stomach, explains veterinarian Dr. B.
  • If the behavior happens in the night or early morning, see your vet. Your vet may suggest a bedtime snack if the carpet licking is due to acid reflux due to the stomach being empty for too long.
  • Cases of acid reflux may benefit from a course of famotidine or omeprazole. Consult with your vet.
  • Attention-seeking licking requires that dog owners completely ignore their dog upon performing the behavior. No looking at the dog, no talking to the dog. Dog owners should leave the room the moment the behavior starts.
  • Licking stemming from anxiety and frustration and that becomes compulsive, requires behavior and environmental modification, possibly along with pharmacologic intervention.
  • Provide your dog with more exercise and mental stimulation (brain games!). Feed food from Kongs, Kong Wobblers, and Buster Cubes. Give your dog a Licki-mat or Snuffle Mat.
  • 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.
  • If your dog shares the home with sloppy children, cleaning all areas where food is often dropped and using baby gates so to limit the dogs access to these, may turn helpful.
  • This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

    © 2020 Adrienne Farricelli

    Sp Greaney from Ireland on November 22, 2020:

    This is not something I have ever heard of before. But I seriously think if I did witness it, I would definitely want to find out the reason behind it. Your list of possible causes is great.

    Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 20, 2020:

    I never had a dog that licked the carpet, yet there are so many possible reasons this could occur. This is another very good, interesting article about possible problems you can encounter with a dog, Adrienne.

    FlourishAnyway from USA on November 20, 2020:

    This is a helpful article for doggie parents in sleuthing why their fur baby might be behaving the odd way he or she is. As always, you provide excellent analysis and insight into canine behavior.

    Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on November 19, 2020:

    Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 19, 2020:

    You never cease to amaze me with your well-written articles. It is easy to tell that you worked in a veterinarian office, and you are very much involved with training dogs. Fortunately, we never had problems with our dogs licking the carpets. You have shown many reasons why they might do so.

    How to Stop Dog Licking Behavior

    If you’ve had enough dog licking around your home, you’ve ruled out a medical cause for the bad habit, and you’re ready to do something about it, there are a few things you can try. One method is to make your home environment as stress-free, yet stimulating, as possible.

    If it can’t be removed (for example, if the source is a new pet, or a new baby recently introduced to the home), there are other ways to address the issue.11

    Some people use homemade “lick repellents” to stop this bad habit. Dilute some hot sauce or pepper sauce with water, and then put the mixture in a spray bottle. If your dog licks a particular area of the floor or carpet on a regular basis, spray a little bit of the mixture on that area, and see if that solves the problem. If your dog licks their paws, or another body part, spray the mixture on that part. You’ll have to make sure the spray isn’t too hot, of course, because you don’t want to run the risk of your pet burning their tongue or skin. There are also over-the-counter products that are designed to stop dog licking.12

    As annoying as obsessive licking can be, it’s important to focus on determining the reason or reasons behind it. Don’t get angry with your dog. Find out why it’s happening, and then take the steps necessary to stop this frustrating dog behavior. If your vet has ruled out any sort of health problem, ask them what you can do to address other potential reasons why your dog continues to lick.

    [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text (Mobile)” _builder_version=”3.3.1″ disabled=”off” disabled_on=”||on”]

    Dog licking can be a very frustrating experience for a pet owner. Whether a dog is licking their paws, their pet parents, or the furniture, it’s an odd quirk that can be irksome for owners. And when it comes to licking, dogs often like licking surfaces, like the carpet, or the floor.

    The question is: why? What are some of the reasons for this obsessive dog behavior? There are several reasons – some are relatively harmless; others could be a cause for concern.

    A dog licking a carpet, or anything else, over and over again could be a sign of stress.1 This bad habit could be a sign you need to take action before the problem becomes worse.

    When dogs are feeling good, you know it. Sometimes, dogs will almost even seem like they’re smiling at you. An anxious dog, however, will often give off negative signs. They might, for example, constantly be licking surfaces around your home. They might also start panting, or drooling excessively.2

    Dogs with floppy ears will sometimes move them back a bit if they’re stressed. If they have short ears, they might either lay flat, or be more erect than usual. The lips are also good indicators of dog behavior. If a dog is feeling stress, they might appear to be grimacing. Other signs of possible problems are growling, barking, or whimpering more than normal.3

    If your dog is showing signs of stress, talk to your veterinarian. They can recommend different ways of addressing the issue.

    Sometimes, a dog licking in an obsessive fashion can be the sign of some type of health issue. Compulsive licking doesn’t just mean a dog licks the floor or carpet. It can also refer to licking their paws, or another part of their body.

    Dog Licking | Ultimate Pet NutritionCompulsive licking can, in some instances, be an indication that something is going on that needs to be addressed by a vet. In one study, researchers looked at 29 dogs. Nineteen of them licked obsessively. The researchers found that 14 of the dogs with excessive licking issues also had an underlying gastrointestinal issue, such as giardiasis, pancreatitis, or delayed gastric emptying. After addressing the problems, the researchers continued to watch the dogs for three months.

    Licking was substantially reduced in 10 of the dogs who were diagnosed with stomach problems.4

    Here’s some additional information on health issues that could cause dogs to lick the carpet. Keep in mind, a dog licking obsessively isn’t necessarily a definitive sign of one of these problems – but it’s worth keeping in mind.

    Giardiasis is a condition caused by a parasite that infects the intestinal tract. This can not only lead to weight loss and lethargy, but also vomiting and diarrhea. Dogs with giardiasis will sometimes show no signs of the problem, however. When a dog drinks contaminated water, the parasite gets into their small intestine. Other areas where the giardia parasite is found include soil and feces.5

    A dog licking themselves, or the carpet, or some other object, isn’t always an indication of giardiasis. However, if your dog obsessively licks while they’re outside, the chances of picking up the parasite could increase substantially. Schedule an appointment with your vet to make sure your pet doesn’t have this condition.

    This is a severe health problem that affects your dog’s pancreas – an organ that plays a major role in helping their body break down the food they eat. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes that help with digestion. If the pancreas becomes irritated, digestive enzymes can move into your dog’s abdomen. This often leads to the enzymes actually breaking down other organs, such as the liver and kidneys. As you might well imagine, pancreatitis in dogs can, in some extreme cases, be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea. While too much fat or calcium in the blood are the more common causes, obesity and licking toxic materials (such as rancid foods) can also be a contributing factor.6

    As the name implies, delayed gastric emptying occurs when food doesn’t move through your dog’s digestive system at the proper rate. This movement is also known as gastric motility. If your dog vomits undigested food around 12 hours or so after eating, this is a sign of a problem. A dog’s stomach should be empty anywhere from 6-8 hours after a meal. Lack of appetite, sudden weight loss and repeated belching are other signs of delayed gastric emptying. One potential contributing factor to this condition is an intestinal blockage.7

    Constant licking of the carpet could result in the ingestion of carpet fibers. Over time, this could contribute to a blockage.8

    There are some instances where a dog licks compulsively simply because they’re bored. Licking is one common outlet for a bored dog, as is chewing. This type of dog behavior can be troublesome, but it can also be fixed.

    The first thing you should do if you suspect you have a bored dog is to make sure they’re getting as much exercise as possible. Some breeds are much more energetic than others, and the high-energy breeds can become easily bored as a result. Instead of watching your dog licking the carpet all day, get outside and play with them! Hide-and-go-seek and fetch are just two of the activities that dogs just love.

    You might also want to consider getting some new toys every once in a while, so your best buddy will have something different to play with. Doing so will help keep them happy and active.9

    Dog Licking | Ultimate Pet NutritionA lot of dogs can’t stand being away from their owners for any extended period of time. Separation anxiety is, unfortunately, common among dogs. A dog with separation anxiety will sometimes obsessively lick the floor, carpet, a body part, or something else as a sort of coping mechanism.

    Some researchers believe that when a dog licks something, it releases endorphins in their brain. These chemicals help calm the dog down. The more a dog licks, the more often these endorphins will be released. The more these endorphins are released, the more the dog will lick.10


    Why is my dog going crazy licking the floor?

    A: Dogs develop a penchant for excessive licking of surfaces (ELS), the clinical term for what Licky is doing, for a few reasons. According to research, the most common reason by far that dogs lick floors and other unusual surfaces is dysfunction or pain of the stomach or intestines.