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Have you seen your dog rubbing their nose on carpet or grass? Some dogs rub their noses simply because they like how it feels. But in some cases, a dog rubbing their nose raw can indicate an underlying issue.
Here are some common reasons for the behavior and tips for preventing it:
Often, dogs will rub their faces on the closest available surface in an attempt to clean food, dirt or another substance that's gotten stuck in their fur. This is especially the case with wrinkly pooches such as pugs, Boston terriers and bulldogs. Regularly wiping the wrinkles of these dogs could help curb their nose-rubbing habits.
While not all itching in dogs is cause for concern, incessant nose rubbing could mean that your dog is itchy due to allergies or to parasites, such as fleas or mites. Or, they could have a skin disorder. If your dog is rubbing their nose because they're itchy, their skin may be red and irritated. They'll likely also be itchy on parts of their body in addition to their nose.
Pain or Discomfort
If you notice your dog rubbing their nose on carpet or another surface, it's possible they could be trying to alleviate pain due to an object trapped inside their nose, a tooth infection or abscess or a bee sting or bug bite. If your dog also has a nosebleed or a lump on their nose, they could have a nasal tumor, according to Care.com.
Constant nose or face rubbing can also be a sign of anxiety, especially if your dog rubs their nose on a crate or another surface when left alone for a period of time, says Kingdom of Pets. This behavior is typical of dogs suffering from separation anxiety.
When to Call the Vet
If you notice your dog rubbing their nose raw, there's likely an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Your veterinarian can treat your pup's sore nose and perform a thorough examination to determine what's causing your dog to rub their nose so much. The treatment your vet provides will be based on what they discover about your dog's health.
In the meantime, you can help relieve your dog's sore nose by gently washing it with soap and water, drying it well and then applying a small amount of antibiotic ointment, says PetCoach. Just be sure not to apply too much ointment; otherwise, your dog might be tempted to lick it off.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Rubbing Their Nose
If your dog's rubbing is caused by an underlying condition, treating the condition will most likely stop the behavior. However, if the rubbing is due to environmental or seasonal allergies, you might need to take additional steps, such as removing rugs and washing bedding and other fabric items that can trap allergens. Regular baths can also help you get rid of allergens that are trapped in your pup's fur.
If it turns out that your dog is simply rubbing their nose out of habit, you can help break it by correcting them with a firm "No!" when the rubbing begins, and then distracting them with a toy, game or healthy treat, says Cuteness.
With all of the potential problems that nose rubbing can indicate, it's best to contact your vet — even if it hasn't gotten to the point that it's causing your dog a raw nose.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.