Why Do Dogs Rub On Things After Eating? (Explained!)


Sometimes our dogs do things that are particularly peculiar. For example, you might notice that almost every time your dog finishes eating they give themselves a good rub down either on your carpet or against your couch. What does this behavior indicate? Is something wrong or irritating them?

There are three core reasons why your dog will rub on things after eating. First is out of enjoyment, second is because they are attempting to clean themselves, or third it’s because something is irritating them and they’re attempting to provide themselves with relief.

In this post we’re going to dive deep on the real reasons why your dog rubs on things after eating, when you should be worried about this behavior as well as how/if you should prevent this from continuing to happen.

Let’s jump right in!

Is It Normal For My Dog To Rub On Things After Eating?

It’s quite common to see your dog rub on things after eating. However, you want to take note of how frequent it happens and do your best to understand why they’re doing it.

If they’re doing aggressive rubbing after every meal you may want to have them looked at to be on the safe side. If it happens after every meal or after almost every meal they could be doing the rubbing in an attempt to provide themselves with some relief.

That could be scratching a powerful itch because they’re allergic to their food or something in their environment. Or, they’re actually in pain and attempting to solve the issue.

If it’s not super frequent and they’re in a playful mood after doing it there’s more than likely nothing wrong and they’re simply showing their happiness.

Top 4 Reasons Why a Dog Rubs On Things After Eating

There could be many possible reasons why your dog is rubbing against things after eating. Below are a few of the most common reasons to give you a better understanding of the behavior.

Happy Dance

There’s a happy dance that dogs sometimes do before or after a sumptuous meal. The dance means your dog is looking forward to the meal you’re preparing for them. It’s also how your dog shows that they’ve enjoyed their wonderful meal after they’ve cleared their bowl.

They’re rubbing themselves down, either on your carpet, against your couch or wherever they’ve chosen in your home, is their way of expressing themselves.

They’re showcasing their happiness by getting rambunctious/excited and rubbing themselves down.

Cleaning Time

Once you clear your plate, it’s common to take a napkin and wipe your mouth, right? The same way you clean yourself up after a meal, your dog wants to do the same. The act of rubbing up against things in your home is to help clean themselves up after their meal.

This act of rubbing gets rid of crumbs, oils, particles, and other liquids stuck on their faces. If your dog doesn’t rub themselves clean, they can attract flies and other insects, which can be pretty irritating.

Your dog can’t use napkins. Instead, they use their paws, your seats, carpet, and other surfaces. These accomplish the same results, which is getting a clean face after meal-time.

Feels Good

I think it’s safe to say that a good back scratch is one of the best feelings in the world. The reason your pup might go for a good self-rub down after their meal is because it feels so darn good!

Some dogs even have special places like a couch or a pillow where they like rubbing. It becomes their favorite spot, and you’ll always find them rubbing themselves there after eating. The first time they do, it feels so good that they keep doing it to experience the same sensation.

Reacting To Pain/Discomfort

The act of rubbing after eating can be positive. However, your dog can sometimes be reacting to something that’s irritating them or is painful, such as:

Allergic Reaction

There’s a possibility that their excessive rubbing is caused by a powerful itch that they need to scratch. If they rub after every single meal without fail, and they do so quite aggressively, they might be allergic to their food.

It’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion from your local vet. Bring the food you’ve been feeding them, explain how your pup has been reacting after eating and see if there’s a problem or if it’s simply a habit your dog has adopted.

Toothache

Picture this: you have an aching tooth but can’t verbalize how you feel. A dog’s best way of letting you know they are in pain and trying to find some relief is to rub themselves against things. The act can be soothing but also a way to get your attention.

Check their teeth and gums to see if you notice anything out of the ordinary. You might find a chipped tooth or an infection. In either case they should be brought to the vet to help relieve them of this pain.

Fleas, Mites, and/or Tick Bites

A huge issue that dogs face is infestations. Fleas, ticks, and mites love breeding on dogs. They thrive on their skin and hair, causing irritations. This irritation could be why your dog tends to rub themselves everywhere after eating.

In this case the rubbing isn’t a happy dance but a scratch of annoyance.

When Should I Be Worried About This Behavior?

A dog can rub themselves because they’re happy and want to show this to you. However, the same act of rubbing themselves can be a cry for help. Always pay attention to your dog to see if it’s in distress and do your best to find out why.

If they do their rubbing aggressively and frequently, it’s likely more than a happy dance.

This is when you’d want to do a little more investigating. Do they appear to be in distress, in pain or unbearably itchy? If so you’ll want to take them to the vet to have them looked at.

Thankfully, the vast majority of reasons that they’re doing this excessive rubbing can be solved when you find the reason for them doing so.

How To Stop My Dog From Rubbing On Things After Eating

If you want to stop your dog from rubbing on things after eating you’ll need to know the reason for their rubbing.

If they’re rubbing to clean themselves or because they’re happy/excited, you’ll have to stop them in the act without giving them a reaction. The more you react, either positive or negative, the more they’ll want to keep doing it because it gets your attention.

If they’re rubbing because of discomfort, you’ll need to get to the bottom of their pain. Without being able to remedy their irritating situation it will be difficult to get them to stop their rubbing.

If you don’t want to take them to the vet right away as you don’t notice anything obvious that’s wrong. Such as red, irritated skin, an infection in their teeth or gums, or an infestation of pests. Your best bet is to do some trial and error on what you’re feeding your dog as well as bathing them with.

If their rubbing persists after you’ve attempted to solve the problem yourself, it’s important to take them to the vet.

Final Thoughts

It’s quite common behavior when a dog rubs themselves against things after eating. The act shows you they’re quite happy and satisfied with the food they just ate. In a way it’s their happy dance after a meal. Not to mention, this is the best way for your dog to clean themselves after eating since they don’t have the ability to use napkins.

However, while rubbing themselves against things can be playful/nothing serious, it can also be a red flag. Some dogs rub themselves when in distress due to an allergic reaction, pain, or an infestation.

If you think they’re rubbing because of something more serious than self-cleaning or an after dinner dance, do some investigating. The only way to help relieve your dog of their irritation is to find the root cause and make necessary changes.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Why Do Dogs Bring You Toys?

Why Do Dog Crates Have Two Doors? (Simply Explained)

Why Do Dogs Hide Toys Or Bury Them? The Real Reasons

Alec Littlejohn

Founder and Reviewer at Pawscessories. He is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! He grew up in a family of vets and to this day he helps out around the family clinic and shares his learnings on Pawscessories. Learn more about Alec's story here

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