Why Is My Dog Licking the Carpet?

You're sitting in the living room watching television when you hear a slurp, slurp, slurp coming from your dog's direction and you see him obsessively licking the same spot of carpet. You chase him away and accidentally step on the spot and feel your sock suddenly become wet. Yuck! It's something all dog owners have gone through, and while it's usually a benign behavior that can easily be corrected, it could also be something more serious. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to figure out whether you should be concerned about your dog's licking or not. And once you figure out the cause of the problem, you can fix it.

English Bulldog Puppy on carpet
credit: Carol Yepes/Moment/GettyImages

The carpet smells like food

You might not remember when someone dropped a little cream cheese dip on your carpet at the party three weeks ago, but your dog does. And K9 of Mine explains that your pooch isn't likely to forget until he's licked up every last molecule left on the carpet.

To prevent this, you can institute a no-food-on-the-carpet policy, but if that's not an option, steam clean your carpet or vacuum it after applying pet-safe vacuum powder on a regular basis to absorb all those tempting scents that drive him nuts. Be sure to keep him out of the room while you use vacuum powder even if it is marked pet-safe.

Stress and anxiety

A relaxed dog is a happy dog; an anxious one is not. If your pooch is nervously looking around with his eyes wide open, his ears are lifted up on high alert, and he seems to flinch or bark at the slightest noise, he's probably stressed. Your dog might be upset about a new move because his schedule has suddenly been thrown out of whack or for any number of other reasons, but the result is that he's turned to nervously licking the carpet.

If you know what caused your dog to become stressed or if you already know what helps your dog chill out, you may be able to ease the anxiety. If you don't know how to calm your dog down though, you may want to see a vet and find out how you can help your worried friend.

Boredom can cause carpet licking

Dogs have a lot of energy, and when that energy isn't released properly, it can come out in weird and unexpected ways — like licking the carpet. It might seem odd to you, but be glad her boredom is coming out in a non-destructive way as she could be chewing shoes or destroying your furniture instead.

The good news is that if your dog is licking the carpet because she's bored, you can solve the problem in short order. Start taking her on more walks, play with her more, and buy her some mentally-stimulating toys to keep her entertained during the day if you're not around. Dr. Marty's Pets suggests getting puzzle toys that are designed to keep your pooch entertained for hours at a time with the promise of a tasty food treat. Whatever toys you give her, be sure to switch them out regularly, so she doesn't get bored of them and revert to licking the carpet.

Dogs who lick carpets may be ill

When it comes to physical problems, sometimes the carpet isn't even the target of the licking, but instead, he's trying to lick his paw or stomach, and the carpet happens to be underneath the area he's licking. If you notice this is the case, carefully examine the bothered body part and if you can't find an immediate source of discomfort, take your dog to the vet.

If the carpet is most certainly the target of the licking, your dog may be sick. Good Doggies says that carpet licking is the indoor equivalent of a dog's instinct to eat grass to make themselves vomit when their stomach is bothering them.

In this case, the carpet licking isn't an immediate problem unless you use certain chemicals to clean your floor or unless the dog licks up something else dangerous. Generally speaking, the problem will resolve itself once the dog throws up, but if the dog keeps up the behavior and is making himself vomit repeatedly, see a vet. The problem could simply be hyperacidity, which occurs when the dog doesn't eat for an extended period, but it could be something more serious, and your vet will be able to diagnose the issue.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs

Some dogs have mental issues beyond simple anxiety. The number one long-term mental illness that results in carpet licking is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), to which some breeds, like bull terriers and Doberman pinschers, are predisposed. According to Pet Place, other behaviors that can indicate OCD can include snapping at non-existent flies, excessive tail chasing, air-licking, and skin sucking.

If you suspect your dog has OCD, see a vet who can recommend a personalized course of action for your pet.