This content was reviewed by veterinarian Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM.
To keep the lights on, we receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. Our review process.
As dog parents, we all know our pups can perform some pretty repulsive displays of behavior (especially when we have company over). And a dog licking its butt is arguably one of the worst. Although you may want to avert your eyes, this behavior could indicate a health concern that requires your attention.
In many cases, dogs simply lick their butts as part of their grooming process. Dogs lick all parts of their bodies to clean themselves, and their nether regions are no exception. But if you notice excessive butt licking, your dog could have one of these conditions that may require vet attention.
When To Consult Your Vet
If your dog’s butt is red and inflamed and he won’t stop licking it excessively, you should consult your veterinarian. It’s never a good idea to “self-diagnose” a potential health problem with your pup.
Impacted or infected anal glands are a fairly common cause of anal irritation in dogs. Healthy anal glands, or sacs, continually fill up with fluid that gets expelled every time your dog poops. But often, these glands get clogged, leading to impaction or abscesses (pockets of bacterial infection) that can become quite uncomfortable for your dog.
Besides licking his anal area, you may also notice him dragging his butt along the ground to help relieve the itching and discomfort. Other telltale signs include red skin around his anus, bleeding, or pus draining from around his anus.
If your dog has one or more of these symptoms, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will need to expel these fluids manually and possibly prescribe medication to treat an infection. In the worst cases, impacted anal glands can rupture, which then require surgical removal.
Some dogs have chronic anal gland problems. If your dog has experienced this condition before, it may be safe to express impacted anal glands at home (with the okay from your vet, of course).
Intestinal worms are internal parasites that can live in your dog’s intestines. Of the different types of worms your dog can get (e.g., hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms) tapeworms are especially talented at causing anal irritation. Intestinal worms can also cause other health issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, and anemia.
You may also find segments of these worms around your dog’s anus and in his stool. To diagnose the problem, your vet will test a fecal sample and then prescribe a dewormer medication to kill the worms.
External parasites like mites, fleas, and ticks can also cause your dog’s anal region to become itchy. Fortunately, there are topical treatments that you can use to get rid of these pests. See our article about the best flea and tick products.
Food or environmental allergies could also be the culprit. However, if your dog is suffering from these kinds of allergies, it’s likely that he’ll lick or chew many other itchy parts of his body in addition to his rear area.
If you suspect that your dog has food-related allergies, consult your vet and describe all the symptoms that your dog is experiencing. Food allergies can take a long time to diagnose because it’s not always obvious which ingredient in your dog’s food is causing the allergy.
If your dog does have food allergies, your vet will recommend a diet that does not contain the allergy-causing ingredient. Because protein is a common cause of food allergies in dogs, your vet might suggest a diet with a protein, such as duck or kangaroo, that your dog has never eaten (called a ‘novel protein’). Check out our reviews of the best dog food delivery services, some of which deliver customized, allergen-free dog food to your home.
Environmental allergies can be seasonal, so you may notice your dog licking more than usual in the spring or summer when environmental allergens (allergy-inducing substances) like pollen are in full force. After your vet has identified what’s making your dog so itchy, they will recommend minimizing your dog’s exposure to that allergen and bathing your dog regularly. They might also prescribe medication to relieve the itchiness.
Although not as common, it’s also possible that your dog has developed a fungal or bacterial skin infection in his anal area. This can happen if there’s an open wound around his butt or if fecal matter remains on his skin after he poops. Unfortunately, excessive licking to clean a wound or remove fecal matter makes the problem worse and can lead to skin infections.
These over-the-counter remedies can help relieve itchy skin and hot spots that result from excessive licking and chewing. Always check with your vet before starting at-home treatment, especially because there are many possible health conditions indicated by this behavior.
King Kanine’s King Kalm Soothe is a CBD-infused anti-itch spray that does a great job relieving dermal abrasions, hot spots, and dry, cracked skin. It also helps reduce inflammation and protect against infections. This non-toxic spray includes aloe vera, tea tree oil, chamomile, and other all-natural ingredients.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Premium Itch Relief Spray provides dogs and cats medicated analgesic and anti-inflammatory relief from inflammation, itchy skin, hot spots, and other skin irritations. It contains lidocaine and hydrocortisone to reduce itching, redness, and swelling and allantoin to help heal wounds.
Here’s one owner’s video of their darling dog’s daily butt licking. Remind you of someone in your home?
Dogs love to lick anything, from themselves and other pets and people to their bedding and toys and even your furniture. Why are they licking fiends? Check out our article about why dogs lick if you’ve ever wondered why they’re so lick-crazy.Tagged With: Reviewed By Dr. Pendergrass, DVM, Trivia