Why Do Dogs Rub Their Heads in Grass?

When your hands are otherwise occupied, your pooch might still need relief from itching around his mouth and ears. Grass offers some friction while still feeling soft, making it an ideal choice to help scratch his head. When Spot rubs his head in the grass, it may be prudent to check him for a few minor health problems, but chances are you'll find none. He probably just has an itch to scratch, or he might be rubbing on some of nature's "cologne"!

Something Smelly This Way Comes

Dogs have powerful noses that lead them to all kinds of smelly items, including dead animals or the poop of nearby wildlife. The ick factor comes in when your pup decides to rub his head in that smelly mess. This behavior is an instinctual holdover from his ancestors' wilder days. Smelling like prey -- even if it's prey's poop -- means he has a better chance of sneaking up on his next meal.

Allergies

Your pup's allergies can stem from many sources, including food, pollen and household chemicals. These can make his skin itchy, especially around his eyes and ears. With food allergies, it might be his mouth that feels funny. To alleviate these odd feelings and itchiness, your dog might rub his head in the grass. This is gentler on his skin than scratching with his hind claws, and it gets more area at once. If you suspect allergies, see your vet to help determine the cause and proper treatment.

Mites and Other Creepy Crawlies

Ear mites hide inside your dog's ears and can cause massive itching, discomfort and irritation. Your pooch probably scratches his ears often with his hind feet to help relieve the itching, but it might not be enough. Check his ears for redness or tiny scabs if you suspect mites, and get some meds from your vet. Also, look for signs of fleas or insect bites, such as from mosquitoes or spiders. If your dog was stung on the face by a bee or wasp, he could be trying to alleviate the pain by rubbing his head in the grass.

Infection

Scratching his face and ears, even a little bit, can open up tiny holes in the skin and allow bacteria to enter. This can lead to a painful infection that causes your dog to rub his head on the grass looking for a little relief. Check for red or swollen skin on his face and in his ears or some discharge from his ears. Your vet can prescribe the proper treatment for bacterial and yeast infections.

By Rob Harris

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References
University of Minnesota: Driven to Discover Q&A
Cesar's Way: It's Not Just Fleas That Can Cause an Itchy Dog
Sheppard Software: Decoding Dog Behavior
1800PetMeds: What are the Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs and Cats?
WebMD: Yeast Infection in Dogs: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

About the Author
While studying journalism in the Army and at the University of Missouri, Rob Harris developed a lifelong love of physical fitness and nutrition, contributing often to a dairy industry newsletter. He has also worked with and created blogs for several family businesses including a professional dog kennel and a flower shop, where he used his experience as an avid gardener to grow plants for sale.