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Is your dog licking their butt yet again? You might've heard that this is part of a dog's normal grooming routine — which it is — but if their licking is getting excessive it could signal that your pooch has a health issue. Read on to understand why your dog might be licking their rear end and how you can help them find relief from their discomfort.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Butts? Common Causes
Other than grooming, there are a few main answers to the question of why dogs lick their butts — anal gland issues, skin infections, parasites and allergies can all lead dogs to lick down there.
If your dog has an anal gland issue, such as impaction or an infection due to not being able to properly express their glands, you may find that they keep licking their butt more and more frequently. Another common sign your dog has anal gland issues is scooting their rear end on the floor. Many dogs do this to try to relieve pain and itching.
It's also possible that your dog has a skin infection. According to Russell Creek Pet Clinic & Hospital, a fungal or bacterial skin infection can develop around a dog's anal area, especially if the skin is punctured. If an infection is present, urine and fecal matter will only exacerbate a dog's discomfort or pain.
Parasites could also be irritating your dog's nether regions. Segments of whipworms, tapeworms or roundworms — all of which live within a dog's intestine if they are infected — can end up in a dog's anus or feces. External parasites, such as fleas, ticks and mites, can also group near a dog's tail or rear. The discomfort these parasites cause lead dogs to lick or bite at their backsides.
Preventing Your Dog From Licking Their Butt
If your dog is frequently licking their butt, the first thing you should do is call your veterinarian to set up an appointment. In the meantime, it is a good idea to discourage your dog from licking their hind quarters as it may only exacerbate the problem. Much like scratching a bug bite or picking at a scab, excessive licking or scooting on the affected area, while it might provide temporary relief for your pup, can actually make things worse and prolong the recovery. In these situations, do your best to distract them with toys or loving attention.
Diagnosis and Treatment
An increase in licking or an excessive amount of licking may indicate that they have a medical problem, so it is important to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will examine your pet and may run tests to determine the exact cause of your dog's behavior and the best course of action.
When you take your dog to the vet's office, try to bring a stool sample if possible. This can be helpful in the event that they're suffering from an internal parasite. For something more straightforward, such as impacted anal glands or parasites, your vet can help immediately by expressing your pet's anal glands or by prescribing medicine to eliminate the parasites, respectively. Infections and parasites require immediate treatment. If your dog has an infection, they may need to take medicine and may also need to wear a cone to prevent them from licking the infected area as it heals.
If your vet can't determine the source of the licking, they may recommend additional testing to determine whether your pet has an allergy. If this is the case, talk to your vet about potential therapeutic pet foods that might be able to help alleviate some of their allergy suffering.
As a loving pet parent, you naturally pay attention to what type of behavior and activity is typical for your furry friend. If you notice your dog licking their butt more than usual, take them to the vet to help them get relief.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.