It's one of those frustrating things dogs do: they just manage to always throw up on the carpet no matter what. Forget about them using the kitchen or bathroom with all those easy-to-clean tiles, carpet ranks as puking place number one, no matter all the precautions you may take. What gives? Interestingly, there are several explanations for this behavior, but don't get too hopeful: knowing the underlying causes won't do much to change your dog's preferences.
A Dog's Perception of Carpets
First, and foremost, it's important to clarify that dogs do not share our sense of aesthetics. Dogs can care less about carpets, upholstery or those expensive Oriental rugs costing hundreds of dollars. So please, no hard feelings against your furry friend, he just doesn't attach any price tags or emotional values to objects you cherish deeply.
On top of this, add the sense of urgency dogs (just like humans) feel when they are about to lose their lunch. It's for sure not a good time to try giving Rover a lecture on why he should not puke on the carpet. When feeling queasy, even well-trained dogs are likely to ignore your pleading requests to "leave it" or "come" to you as you are standing on the tiles making them look like the best deal in the world.
Sure, dogs can be taught to not pee or poop on carpets from a young age, but vomiting doesn't seem to apply to this type of training. Interestingly, though, vomiting on carpets may have something in common with potty training.
Indeed, at a closer insight, vomiting on carpets may actually be a dog's way to keep his living quarters clean. This may not make much sense to us humans, but if we take a closer look as to why dogs throw up on carpets in the first place and hear them out, it ultimately starts making some decent sense.
A Dog's "Denning Instinct"
When potty training puppies, the use of a crate or a small confinement area is used because it's use is based on what's known as a dog's "denning instinct." Now, it's worth precising, dogs are not den animals, in the real sense of the word. Dogs don't live in permanent dens as it happens with ground-dwelling animals such as moles, groundhogs and gophers.
However, a dog's ancestors gave birth and raised their pups in maternity dens. What are maternity dens? Maternity dens are places that mothers use to nurture their young during a vulnerable life stage.
Canines are biologically altricial, meaning that they are dependent to a great extent on their mothers when young. Born deaf, blind and unable to regulate their temperatures, puppies have a history or being raised in dens so to stay protected from the outside elements and potential predators.
Crates and other small enclosures may roughly mimic a maternity den. They turn particularly helpful for potty training purposes based on a puppy's instinct to not soil the areas where they sleep.
Similar Instincts at Play
In a similar fashion, when dogs throw up on carpets, they may be adhering to their ancient, hard-wired instincts. Despite the fact that dogs nowadays sleep on memory foam beds and wear collars studded with shiny rhinestones, those instincts can still strongly prevail.
"Dogs have a strong instinct not to soil the spaces where they sleep, eat and drink," explains veterinarian Dr. Myrna Milani, in the book "The Secret Lives of Dogs." It's not like they are deliberately aiming for the carpet. They are just trying to go as far as possible from their main living areas, she adds.
This can be attested by the countless dog owners who witness their dogs sleeping with them in the bedroom one minute, and then, the next, they are up throwing up on the carpet in the living room. Or perhaps in another instance, dog owners witness their dogs wandering off the kitchen tiles (where they are fed) to approach the carpet with purpose and determination.
Try to keep your dog in the kitchen, and most likely, he'll still manage to wander off towards the carpet attracted to it as a magnet. Of course, if your home is 99 percent carpet, the odds of your dog vomiting on it are very high. However, carpet seems to remain a dog's top favorite pick as puking surface. Yet we can't blame them: they are just trying to keep their living quarters clean!
Cleaning Dog Vomit From Carpets
If your dog manages to vomit on the carpet, your best bet is to act quickly. The earlier the better. While the task is for certain not pleasant, procrastination isn't a carpet's best friend.
Vomit, having just emerged from your dog's digestive tract, is highly acidic in nature and has the potential to cause difficult-to-remove stains once absorbed. Some of the most difficult to clean dog vomit stains are those coming from dogs who happen to vomit on an empty stomach.
When a dog vomits on an empty stomach, the majority of their vomit is composed by bile. Bile is a special naturally occurring acid that enables dogs to digest food and is secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It is typically yellowish-amber in color and notorious for causing unsightly stains.
To clean up these messes, it's ideal to first wipe up as much of the vomit as possible and then use products that are specifically crafted to clean up stains. These products are purposely meant to penetrate, separate and lift embedded stains.
Did you know? According to data collected by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), upset stomach and vomiting ranked as one of the top conditions dogs see the vet for, ranking 6th place out of 10.
As seen, dogs aren't secretly sitting in a spot plotting a way to make the carpet business fail. All they are trying to do is maintain their living quarters as clean as possible. Until dogs can be trained to use a barf bag, it looks like cleaning up unsightly vomit spots will just be one of those things dog owners will have to come to accept as part of the dog ownership package.