Why does my dog rub his face after eating?

Dug Rubbing Face

Dog antics never cease to amaze me. If they’re not making you laugh, then they’re leaving you to wonder to yourself, why does my dog do that? Take my friend’s dog for example. Zach will get a can of top-notch brand canned food with his bowl of kibble once or twice a week. After devouring it, he promptly commences with what we fondly call his, ‘happy dance’.

This ‘happy dance’ entails  jumping onto the couch, flopping over on his side and stretching out the full length of his body across the couch. Then, he begins rubbing his face and back on the cushions — happily snorting and sneezing. Once he has trashed the couch, it’s onto the floor where he resumes his crazy antics. My friend has often asked me, “Why does my dog rub his face after eating?” So, I set out to find the answer!

As it turns out, dogs can rub their faces and muzzles after eating for several reasons — like showing their enjoyment or irritation, or for an allergic reaction. To narrow it down, watch their behavior to help determine what triggers it — and if there is a behavior pattern. Most importantly, ask yourself if veterinarian intervention will be required.

The Contentment Ceremony — expressing their inner dog

According to Psychologist Stanley Coren, dogs will display these ‘happy dance’signals with events that make them feel good or happy. For instance, these could occur while seeing you prepare their meal or after eating a good meal. By them rolling and rubbing their bodies across the floor and furniture or rubbing their muzzles and noses, they are expressing their contentment. Their comical actions are essentially a ceremonious ritual. This is what we have determined to be Zach’s method of madness.

Cleanliness is next to dogliness

Dogs will frequently groom themselves similar to cats’ habits — by licking their paws and then rubbing their faces or muzzles. To get those hard-to-clean spots, they might rub their face on carpets, furniture or some grass. Some dogs are clean freaks and can’t stand a piece of food left on their face or between their teeth. We’ll gladly help out that clean freak of yours with an Organic Sensitive Skin Shampoo!

It tastes so good, but it itches so bad!

Food and environmental allergies are notorious for giving dogs itchy faces. I once knew an American Staffordshire Terrier allergic to everything but himself! He, too, would perform the after-meal face and body rub. If you suspect a food allergy, note the ingredients and try changing up foods.

Getting on their last nerve

Rubbing their faces or muzzles can also be indicative of irritations. However, this behavior usually presents itself out of the blue — as opposed to being part of a ritual. Take notice of things like goopy or swollen eyes that would be indicative of eye inflammation. Or perhaps this might indicate sore gums or teeth. Do the dogs veer away when you touch their faces or muzzles? Do they whine or appear to be eating differently? If so, promptly schedule a visit with your vet to better assess their condition.

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