Is your dog licking its anus more than usual and you’re not sure why? This article will demystify this rather gross behavior from your dog!
Why is my dog licking his butt? Here are some reasons your dog is licking his butt:
- External or internal parasites
- Skin infection
- Anal gland issues
In today’s article, I’ll go through the above five reasons your dog keeps licking and biting his bum. Once you get to the bottom of the issue, you can get it ameliorated so your dog behaves better!
5 Reasons Your Dog Licks Its Butt
Dogs mostly rely on us humans to keep them tidy, but there are some areas a canine can reach that they prefer to handle themselves, such as their butt.
If your dog is only licking around this sensitive area every now and again (far from daily), and in short bursts, then it’s most likely because he’s grooming.
You don’t have anything to worry about in this case, as this is normal dog behavior.
That said, if your dog won’t leave his bum alone after a while, then it’s likely less to do with grooming and more to do with one of the other issues in this section.
External or Internal Parasites
Is your dog not eating and licking his bum? Maybe your dog keeps licking his private area as well?
It could be a more serious issue such as parasites.
External parasites can invade your dog from behind, lingering around their tail or even their butts. These parasites include mites, ticks, and fleas, all of which leave itchy bites.
These parasites are very small and thus can be hard to see, especially to the untrained eye, but if you know what to look for, you might be able to spot them.
The same cannot be said for internal parasites since these unwanted creatures are already inside your dog.
I’m talking about dangerous parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. These worms burrow into your dog’s intestines and can eventually travel to the anus.
There are more risks still than merely your dog’s discomfort. If your dog is very young, such as puppy age, internal parasites could possibly be fatal.
On top of that, some parasites of both the internal and external varieties can be passed on to humans from dogs, so don’t delay if you think your pup has an infestation!
Licking to excess might bring your dog a temporary sense of relief, but do you know what else it could do? Lead to skin infections.
When a dog licks, licks, licks at one area obsessively, they could develop lesions or sores on the skin. If the dog continues to lick at the same area, the lesion or sore can become an abscess.
Should your canine companion develop an abscess, the area around it could also go bald. That might be when you notice something is wrong with your dog.
If a dog has undiagnosed allergies (more on this later), then they’re likelier to develop a secondary skin infection that makes them doubly uncomfortable.
Anal Gland Issues
A dog’s anal glands are referred to as scent glands. Canines have one gland on each side of their rectum.
Dogs can often express their glands themselves, typically when they poop. Yet not in all cases.
Allergies might prohibit a dog from fully expressing its glands. Gland duct issues caused by poor anatomical structure can prevent full expression as well, as can loose stools.
The anal glands sit there full, accumulating fluid and building up pressure along the way. This makes the glands even thicker, which ups the pressure to a very uncomfortable degree.
Your dog will try to relieve the terrible pressure by expressing its own anal glands, but as I said, sometimes they just can’t do it.
If their own self-expression of the glands doesn’t work while they’re pooping, that’s. when you’ll typically see your dog move on to the next attempt at relief.
A common way for dogs to try to express their own anal glands, while inside, is by dragging their butt along the floor, most commonly on your carpet.
In addition to this “butt scooting” behavior, your dog might begin licking and even biting at their butts.
You could even begin to smell a terrible fishy odor if the glands are that severely impacted.
As I said I would, let’s talk about doggy allergies.
A dog can be allergic to many of the same allergens that you and I can, from pollen in the air to food ingredients like wheat or soy.
No matter the source of the allergy, a dog will typically end up with inflamed, itchy skin as a symptom.
The skin irritation can appear anywhere on the dog’s body, including the anal glands and commonly the rectal area.
So your dog will do what they do when they’re in an uncomfortable situation like this, and that’s lick.
You’ll recall earlier that a dog with allergies is prone to skin infections, which compounds an already bad problem.
Should You Dog See a Vet If He’s Licking His Butt a Lot?
Now that I’ve gone over the five reasons a dog is likeliest to lick his butt, you should have an easier time narrowing down why your dog might be committing so passionately to this unscrupulous behavior.
If you truly think your dog is just grooming–which you’ll know since he’s only licking his butt occasionally–then as I said before, there shouldn’t be a need for further action.
Do monitor your dog to see if their rate of licking increases though!
Your vet will be able to diagnose your dog with a parasite infestation, allergies, a skin infection, and/or anal gland issues.
If your dog has parasites, your vet can prescribe them medication to make the worms dissolve. You’ll have to bring your pup back in after their round of medication to ensure the regimen worked.
To diagnose allergies, your vet will perform tests to rule out certain allergens. You might have to change your dog’s diet for a while to determine if certain ingredients are making them itchy and uncomfortable.
Oral medications, oral antihistamines, and nasal sprays can treat dog allergy symptoms. So too will avoidance of an ingredient that triggers your dog’s symptoms.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a skin infection, either from allergies or due to another cause, your vet will offer a medicated shampoo and/or antibacterial conditioning spray to treat the infection.
What if your dog’s issue is with his anal glands? A vet can express the glands to relieve your dog of pressure and pain. They’ll also wash out the anal sacs and possibly prescribe antibiotics to ward off prolonged issues.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking His Butt
At the end of the day, dogs are animals, and animals are gonna lick, even their butts. It’s inevitable, but if the behavior is distracting or detrimental to your dog’s health, here’s what I recommend.
Treat the Issue at the Source
I can’t stress enough that the issues from the first section do not go away on their own.
Allergies need diagnosis and treatment, pest infestations can become more severe, and impacted anal glands will only continue to cause your dog duress.
Maybe a skin infection will clear up with time, but usually only if your dog will stop licking long enough for it to happen.
Do your dog a favor and bring them to a vet if they’re licking their butt excessively.
Your dog can’t verbally express that they’re itching or in pain and discomfort, but their licking is like a verbal expression.
Even if you take your dog to the vet and it turns out nothing is wrong except that your canine companion likes to lick, at least you know. You can’t put a price on peace of mind!
Distract with Toys
I do not recommend using toys in lieu of veterinary treatment, of course.
Rather, until your vet has an opening, or until your dog’s medication starts working, you can use toys to stop your pup’s excessive licking.
- Do you see your dog all balled up in the corner and going to town at their butt? Squeak their favorite squeaky toy. The sound should instantly draw their attention.
- You can even use treats as a distraction, but I’d caution you against doing that too much. You don’t know if your dog has an allergy right now, and they could potentially be allergic to their treats.
Even if they aren’t, you don’t want your dog becoming overweight on top of all their other health problems right now.
Issue Firm Commands
You can also train your dog to lick less, or at least to stop licking when you tell them to.
You should never yell at a dog when you don’t like what they’re doing, as it doesn’t teach them anything. Instead, firmly issue a command like “no.”
Your dog will get it and should cease the bad behavior.