It’s no secret that dogs can be strange creatures. Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint why a dog is exhibiting a certain behavior. If you’ve noticed that your dog has some odd eating rituals, such as rubbing his face after eating or even rolling around on the floor after a meal, you may be wondering whether there is some kind of explanation for this.

Most food-related behavior in dogs can be explained, and we have a few possible explanations below. By having a better understanding of why your dog rubs his face/nose before or after eating, you can gain better insights into your dog’s behavior. Furthermore, if your dog’s behaviors are a sign of a potential medical problem, you’ll be able to recognize this and get your pup the help he needs.

Why does my dog rub his face after eating?

Your dog has just finished a bowl of food, and you’re noticing that he’s now rubbing his face with his paw repeatedly. Some dogs will do this just a few times before stopping, whereas some other dogs may spend a long time rubbing their faces after eating. At what point does it become problematic? And what are some of the most common reasons that a dog engages in this behavior?

Your Dog is Cleaning Himself

Some dogs are “neat freaks,” just as humans can be. While a lot of dogs don’t care if they end up with a few food crumbs on their faces after eating, the reality is that these small food particles can be very bothersome to others. This may be especially true if your dog has a lot of whiskers around his face that can trap food crumbs.

If your dog seems to do a lot of pawing at his face or snout immediately after eating, there’s a good chance that he’s simply trying to clean off excess food particles from his fur. If this is the case, there’s nothing to worry about. Of course, if your dog starts rubbing his face on your furniture or other objects in your house in an effort to clean himself, this may become a bigger problem.

Your Dog is Happy

If your dog is in an especially good mood after eating a meal, there’s a good chance that his antics could simply be a result of that happiness. You can think of it as your dog doing a sort of post-meal “happy dance.” It is not uncommon for dogs to rub their faces out of excitement or contentment. You might also notice that your dog rolls around on the floor after a meal to express his happiness. Again, nothing to worry about if this is the behavior your dog is exhibiting—especially if it only lasts for a few minutes after eating and your dog doesn’t show any signs of distress.

Your Dog Has a Food Allergy

Unfortunately, not all cases of dogs rubbing their faces after eating are quite so happy. In some instances, your dog may actually be rubbing his nose because of an allergy to an ingredient in his food. If you’re noticing that your dog seems to be rubbing at his face excessively after eating and he does not seem to be comfortable, he could be suffering from a skin allergy.

This is most likely to be the case if you have recently switched your dog to a different food. However, it is possible for dogs to develop sudden allergies to foods they’ve been eating for years, so don’t rule out this possibility just because you’ve been feeding your dog the same food for quite some time.

Your Dog Needs Dental Care

If your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort in his teeth, gums, or elsewhere in the mouth while eating, this will often be manifested by rubbing at the face or nose after a meal. Most likely, this will be the culprit if you’ve noticed that your dog has suddenly begun this behavior seemingly out of the blue. Likewise, you may notice that your dog is eating less or having trouble finishing a meal. Dental problems such as abscesses and cavities are unfortunately quite common in dogs.

What should I do about my dog rubbing his face after eating?

If you’ve noticed that your dog is rubbing his face after eating, there are a few courses of action to consider.

Try Switching Foods

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a skin allergy, then it may be time to try switching your dog’s food to see if that helps. This is most likely to be the case if your dog was recently switched to a different food shortly before the behavior started. Some dogs are simply more sensitive than others to certain ingredients, so switching to a skin-sensitive formula or other natural kibble formula can be a great way to troubleshoot the issue.

When changing up foods, try to make note of the ingredients in each new formula you try. This may be able to help you narrow down which ingredient is causing the reaction. Once you have this figured out, you’ll know to avoid any food or treats with this ingredient in the future. In the meantime, you can also help provide your dog with some relief from contact allergies by applying a thin layer of ointment to the irritated area.

See a Vet

If you’ve changed up your dog’s food and are still noticing that he is rubbing at his face and snout after eating, then it may not be a bad idea to schedule a vet appointment. This way, you can have your dog’s mouth and area around the mouth checked out to ensure that there are no underlying problems causing your dog discomfort. This is often when oral and dental problems are uncovered.

If your dog has any dental issues, it is important to have these addressed sooner rather than later so that you can have them treated. From there, your dog should be able to resume eating comfortably without any face rubbing or other unwanted behavior.

Let It Happen

Unless your dog seems to be rubbing his face out of discomfort or pain, this behavior is generally nothing to worry about. Many dogs rub their faces after eating as a means of expressing happiness or simply cleaning off any remaining crumbs. If it’s not bothering you or your dog, this behavior may not need to be corrected at all. 

Of course, if your dog begins rubbing his face on furniture or elsewhere in the house, you may want to discourage your pet from doing this.

Why does my dog roll around after eating?

Plenty of dogs roll around on the floor or otherwise act silly after they’ve finished a meal. As long as your dog appears to be content while rolling around and does not seem to be in any kind of distress, this is a perfectly normal behavior that does not need to be remedied. Your dog may simply be showing you how happy he is that he has a full belly.

On the other hand, if your dog seems to be uncomfortable (such as in pain or itchy) while rolling around after eating, you’ll probably want to schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible. Your dog could be suffering from an allergic reaction to an ingredient in his food or there may be some other underlying problem going on.

Why does my dog rub his face before eating?

While it’s pretty common for a dog to rub his face after eating, what if you notice that this behavior occurs before your dog has even dug into his food? As strange as this behavior may seem, there are some possible explanations to consider.

Your Dog Isn’t Hungry Yet

Dogs have a tendency to be very territorial about their food. If you’ve offered your dog a meal and he isn’t hungry yet, then rubbing his face into the ground (especially around the bowl) probably just means that your dog is trying to “bury” his food to keep it safe until he has more of an appetite. In the wild, this behavior is very common for dogs who are trying to hide their food from other animals. Your dog is doing the same thing at home out of pure instinct; it doesn’t matter if there are no other animals in the house to “hide” the food from. Your dog can’t help his evolutionary behavior!

Often times, dogs that exhibit this behavior will spend a few minutes attempting to “bury” their food by rubbing their noses on the ground around the bowl. Once your dog realizes that he will be unable to hide the food, he may decide to eat it instead. Some dogs may even lay next to their food bowls to “guard” the food until they are ready to eat it later on.

There’s Something Else Going On

In most cases, a dog that rubs its nose around its food before eating is nothing to be concerned about. This is especially true if your dog goes on to eat a normal meal and acts content afterward. Unfortunately, if you’re noticing this behavior and your dog is refusing to eat or has seemed to have a sudden change in his eating behaviors, then this could be the sign of an underlying medical condition or other problem that needs to be addressed. The best course of action would be to take your dog to the vet for a full physical examination to make sure there is nothing more serious going on.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.