If your dog has been wiping its face with its paw a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you seven common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog wipe its face with its paw? Possible reasons why your dog wipes its face with its paw are that it has allergies or a rash, it has fleas, it is anxious, there is something stuck on its face, or more serious mental issues.

It is actually possible that there is a combination of causes at play. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.

Reasons why your dog wipes its face with its paw

Below are seven possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

Allergies or a rash

The cause could be that it has gotten a rash or allergies. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, if it has been wiping the same part of its face and if it has been scratching itself a lot. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Fleas

Another possible reason is that it has gotten fleas. This would also be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, if it has been itching itself a lot as well, it has also been scratching or rubbing other parts of its body as well and if you have found fleas around the house.

Anxiety

Sometimes, dogs will rub themselves a lot when they are anxious, especially on the nose (source). It might be the case that your dog has been doing it because something has been causing it to be anxious. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it tends to do it more at certain times such as when you are about to leave home. 

Encouraging the behavior

The cause might also be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as treats, toys or extra attention, when it wipes its face, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. 

Something stuck on its face

The cause could be that it has something stuck on its face. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, it has been rubbing a certain part of its face a lot and if you can see that something is stuck there. 

Mental issues

There are some types of head injuries that can cause dogs to start rubbing their heads a lot. Head injury is a much less common cause than those mentioned above. However, it would be more likely if it has also been dizzy, vomiting a lot, having seizures or having a hard time walking (source). If it seems like it could be the case that it has a head injury, the best option would be to take it to a vet. 

It’s just itchy

It could also be the case that it is just itchy. This would be more likely if it does not do it excessively and it seems to do it at random times.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it. 

What else happened when it first started doing it

If your dog did not always wipe its face with its paw, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to allergies, a rash, something being stuck on its face or fleas.

What is different when your dog wipes its face

It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to do it. For example, if it tends to do it more when you leave home, it could be the case that it has some separation anxiety. 

What to do about your dog wiping its face with its paw

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Get help

If you cannot figure out the main cause, it has been doing it excessively or it seems to be due to an injury, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to rule out more serious causes. 

Prevent allergies

Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen, a harness rubbing its skin or household chemicals (source).

It would help to figure out what could be causing it to have a rash and to try to replace it with something else. 

Limit reasons why it might be anxious

As mentioned above, something might have been causing it to be anxious. It would help to limit reasons why it might be anxious by doing things such as letting it pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it for long. 

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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.