There’s no denying it- this is a strange topic.
Way stranger than those times when your dog buries its head into you.
Perhaps even as strange as having to wonder why your dog nibbles your ears from time to time (though truth be told, it’s hard to beat inverted canine nipples)!
When the query, “My dog is obsessed with my belly button- why??” crosses your mind, you may just think that you’ve wandered into uncharted territories.
But as we all know, in this wonderful age of the internet, nothing is truly unknown. And boy, do we have the answers to your seemingly confounding question today!
Dogs are usually attracted to human belly buttons for one of three main reasons:
- The scent that the ingrained dirt, salt and oils are giving off
- Hormonal changes in the body
- Ailments that you might be suffering.
Ruling out each possibility is the key to unraveling this belly-busting mystery. Most of the time it won’t be anything too serious, and you can ward off this habit in your dog by distracting them, rejecting the behavior, and teaching new behaviors.
If you own a dog, you would more than likely feel okay with them nudging and licking your face, but as for sniffing your belly button? Probably not as okay with that.
If this happens, you’d probably feel bothered and think, “I feel like my dog is obsessed with my belly button”. But what could be the reason behind your pooch wanting to sniff your belly button area?
Well, as it turns out, there are various possible reasons!
As you probably already know, your belly button is a crevice that is capable of harboring nasty, unwanted smells. This is especially true when a lot of sweat, dirt, and oils have accumulated in the navel.
While such smells might be unsavory to you, they are tantalizing to your doggie. Neglecting your belly button can also result in fungal or bacterial infections in the navel, which may be another reason for the pungent aroma.
Keep in mind, however, that there are some cases where you can diligently observe cleanliness around your belly button area and still emit a smell that attracts your dog.
Additionally, if you are more physically active, your body will naturally produce more oils and salts in response to physical exertion and the heat.
As you can expect, your belly button is one of the hidden areas in your body where these salts and oils may go undiscovered. With an active lifestyle, your belly button has a higher chance of giving off a smell that might attract your fur baby’s attention.
Strangely enough, a dirty belly button is not the only reason why a canine might want to sniff at your belly button.
There have been lots of stories about doggies smelling their owners’ belly button area when they were pregnant. Even though it has not been proven scientifically yet, the explanation behind this strange behavior is that dogs can detect hormonal changes by smell.
Owing to their remarkable sense of smell, dogs are able to detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the human body. This is mainly due to the fact that VOCs are gaseous molecules that the body produces when it is undergoing certain changes.
These VOCs may develop from an illness, or even from external factors such as a change in diet, exposure to certain environmental toxins, or even use of certain pills.
As such, if a dog is interested in sniffing your belly when you are expectant, it’s probably because they can tell that there are some changes happening in your body. By putting their nose to the task, they are probably simply trying to figure out what is happening.
If you have been trying to find more information on reasons as to why your dog would want to smell your belly button, you may have come across a story on the internet about a Siberian Husky that saved its owner’s life by sniffing!
Stephanie, the Siberian Husky’s owner, was diagnosed with a benign ovarian cyst that was not a major cause for concern- at least according to her doctors.
However her dog was convinced that there was more to the issue, and would persistently sniff her owner’s belly. Even though Stephanie did not find her dog’s new behavior too peculiar at first, it eventually created more concern over time.
When she visited her doctors again, she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
With research still undergoing, it has been found that dogs – thanks to their powerful sense of smell – can distinguish between healthy blood and the blood of a cancer patient.
This new discovery has made dog owners and researchers alike feel that dogs may well be able to detect other kinds of ailments through their powerful olfactory senses.
For that reason, if you have noticed that your dog has insisted on smelling your belly button for a long period, you might want to think twice about what your “dog-tor” is trying to communicate.
Other than just sniffing your belly button area, your fur baby might also find your belly button rather tasty and want to lick it. But why would they want to do so?
If you like taking a morning jog, or are involved in other strenuous full-body activities during the day, you may have noticed that whenever you return home your dog is all over you in an instant trying to lick your face or legs.
As much as you may think of this as a peculiar behavior, it’s actually quite normal for a dog. The reason why they do so is that after being involved in physical exercise, your body will excrete salts and oils that canines find quite tasty.
The oils and salts that your face and legs produce are the same that are produced in your belly button, and the longer you leave them there the tastier they become for your dog.
Yuck- but true.
One more amazing fact about belly buttons on humans is that they are bigger and have a more distinctive shape compared to those of dogs.
As a human, you either have an “innie” or “outie”. If you have an innie belly button, it will have a small pocket that can, unfortunately, harbor all sorts of oils, dirt, and sweat as you go about your day.
Since an innie is not shaped in a way that makes it exactly easy to clean, you may leave some dirt in it even if you are diligent about your belly button maintenance. As the dirt accumulates, the belly button may begin to give off a smell that your dog might find attractive.
Don’t be surprised if your pooch attempts to lick your belly button, because to them it smells more like a doggie treat (Again, yuck-but true). In such a case, a good thorough scrub is the answer to your problem.
If that doesn’t fix your dog’s fixation with your belly button, other common reasons why it may hone in on a particular area of your body include anxiety, boredom, and attention-seeking behavior.
After discovering the reasons as to why your dog always wants to sniff or lick your belly button, you might naturally start wondering more about the obsession.
As humans, we are always inclined towards the worst-case scenario. In this case, you may be worried that your fur baby is interested in smelling your belly button because of something wrong with your body.
Even though there are some cases where a dog constantly sniffing your belly button would mean that you need to see your doctor as soon as possible, it can also be something as simple as a dirty belly button.
As such, if you see that your dog insists on smelling or maybe even licking your belly button, you can do the following to rule out the possible causes before making the decision to see a doctor:
Isn’t this a dog blog?
Apparently we provide human hygiene advice now too!
The next time you are in the shower, pay more attention to your belly button and scrub it thoroughly with soap and warm water.
You can also use your finger to push a white cloth into the crevice of the belly button. If the cloth changes color and becomes dark brownish, you have probably ignored your belly button for far too long!
In such a case, you can rest easy knowing that the smell from the accumulated dirt is most likely the explanation for your dog being so obsessed with your belly button.
This one is not something that is easy to ignore for a long time.
If you have a bacterial infection in your belly button, the area will emit a smell that will be unpleasant to you (even though your dog might like it).
If your dog’s belly button obsession is coupled with pain, swelling, redness, or a yellowy discharge around the area, you more than likely have an infection that needs a doctor’s attention.
Candidiasis is a type of yeast infection that can cause a red, itchy rash around or inside the belly button. In cases where the infection is severe, you may notice a white thick discharge.
If you are diabetic this should ring a significant bell, since people with diabetes are more predisposed to candidiasis.
If you recently had abdominal surgery and unfortunately suffered an associated infection, you may notice pus coming from the belly button. This is a serious condition and you should see your doctor as soon as you can if this is happening.
Any bloody discharge from your belly button calls for immediate action in the form of seeing your doctor. Such discharge might be a symptom of an urachal cyst
There are some cases where a sebaceous cyst can form in your navel as a result of oil-releasing glands.
In such circumstances, there is a likelihood that the cyst may become infected. If that happens, the infected area will become painful and red. If the infection is severe, you might notice a thick, bad-smelling discharge coming from the cyst.
As mentioned earlier, it does not always mean that something bad is happening to your body if you see your pooch wanting to sniff more and more around your belly button area.
However, if this behavior persists even after giving your belly button a good wash and having none of the above signs, you might want to take a trip to your doctor’s office to find out more.
If your dog sniffs your belly button a little too much, there is a high chance that they will end up licking it as well. This can be annoying, to say the least!
To bring an end to this behavior, it would be a good idea to firstly find out the root cause. Ensure that your belly button is clean, and if so, be sure to also confirm that you are free from any underlying medical issues.
Once you have confirmed that everything is okay, you can rest easy and assume that your pooch is simply trying to show you some affection.
However, it’s still best to discourage your fur baby from continuing with this behavior if it is detrimental, and you can do so with the following quick tips:
There are several ways to distract a pooch from his newly-discovered belly button-sniffing behavior.
One of the most effective is to use one or more of his favorite toys to shift his attention. You can also elect to take him outside for a walk, or even play a fetch game with him!
Sniffing and licking your belly button could well be your pooch’s (rather annoying) way of getting attention from you.
Rather ignoring it completely, ensure that you do give enough attention to your dog through regular hugs and cuddles, playing games, or taking him out for a quick stroll.
Teach and use a few new commands to make your dog stop what he is doing!
Even a simple command like “sit” should work, since your dog will stop sniffing or licking so that he can sit down.
Turn or walk away whenever your dog starts this kind of behavior.
Doing this repeatedly will hopefully make your dog understand that this kind of action is not appreciated, and they’ll hopefully respond by eventually getting the message and stopping.
Licking can be a dog’s way to deal with boredom or anxiety. In this case, ensuring that you have met your dog’s daily interactive needs and that they are well-stimulated can be the solution to this sticky problem.
If you are currently finding yourself exclaiming, “My dog is obsessed with my belly button!”, know that it actually isn’t as uncommon as you might think.
A variety of factors, such as scents emitting from trapped dirt and oils, hormonal changes, and infections or diseases may be the reason for your pup’s recent fascination with your humble navel.
They could even simply be focusing on your belly button (or other parts of your body) due to a want of interaction and attention!
It’s not unheard of for dogs to have the ability to sniff out serious hidden illnesses however, so it may be a good idea to pay the doctor a visit if its behavior persists.
If everything checks out fine, you can curb the admittedly-annoying behavior by diverting their attention, teaching simple commands such as “sit” or “leave”, or making it a point to reject their actions till they get the message!
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.