Watching Scruffy rub his face may look like the canine equivalent of a facial massage, but at times personal hygiene may not be on your dog's to-do-list of the day. Getting to the root of your dog's facial rubbing problem may require some investigative work.
At times, Scruffy's romping around can get him into some minor mishaps causing him to pick up a few hitchhikers along the way. Whether he collects seeds, burrs or some blades of grass, he'll certainly be eager to get them off. Same goes with any remnants of food or the occasional eye blob. Deprived from opposable thumbs and with poor manual dexterity, he'll likely use the power of his paws to clean up his face. Alternatively, he might just as well rub his face against the carpet, furniture or even your legs for better friction.
Eau de Cologne
Next time Scruffy rubs his face, pay special attention to what he's rubbing it against. Sometimes dogs drop to the ground and happily rub their body and face on something they think smells desirable so they can acquire the odor themselves. Whether it's a squirrel's carcass, a cow pie or some type of rotten fish, this is simply Scruffy's way of putting on the canine version of your favorite Chanel No. 5.
At times, some sort of local irritation may be at the root of the rubbing fit. It doesn't hurt to carefully inspect your dog's head including your dog's eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Look for any skin irritations, signs of a rash or abnormal smells and discharges. Dogs with wrinkly skin may be predisposed to a condition known as "skin fold dermatitis." If your inspection turns up nothing and your dog's rubbing persists, seek help from your veterinarian.
On a more serious note, the rubbing issue may be triggered by an itchy case of canine allergies. In this case, your dog's diet may be to blame, but many other things such as pollen, lawn products, household chemicals, insect bites or any medications your dog takes may be a culprit. You want to see your vet immediately if your dog starts rubbing his face and develops facial swelling or welts. Severe allergic reactions may lead to a life-threatening emergency causing trouble breathing and shock.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.