Why Does My Dog Keep Licking His Butt?

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Dog licking butt (caption:Why Do Dogs Lick Their Butt?)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.

Article Overview

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Butt?

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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.

Anal Gland Problems

Dog laying on backImpacted 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 a bacterial infection or abscesses that can become quite uncomfortable for your pet.

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 treatment for an infection. In the worst cases, impacted anal glands can rupture, which then require surgical removal.

Some dogs have chronic anal gland problems, and if your dog has experienced impacted anal glands before, it’s usually safe to express them at home (with the okay from your vet, of course).

Learn more about expressing your dog’s anal glands

Internal Or External Parasites

Internal parasites that can live in your dog’s intestines, such as hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms, may be the cause of anal irritation. They 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. Your vet can test a fecal sample and then prescribe treatment to kill the specific internal parasite that tests positive.

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.

Skin Allergies & Infections

Food or contact 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.

Dog itching (text in image: Common Dog Skin Issues & RemediesIf you suspect that your dog has food-related allergies, consult your vet with all the symptoms he’s experiencing. If he does have food allergies, you might want to consider a raw food diet or check out our reviews of the best dog food delivery services, some of which deliver customized, allergen-free dog food to your home.

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 the skin around his butt is punctured 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.

See the 7 most common dog skin problems to learn more about skin allergies, external parasites and other causes.

Home Remedies

These over-the-counter remedies can help relieve itchy skin and hot spots that result from excessive licking and chewing. We strongly recommend checking with your vet before starting at-home treatment, especially since there are many possible health condition indicated by this behavior.

KING KALM SootheKing 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 ReliefVeterinary 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.

Does This Remind You Of Your Dog?

Here’s one owner’s video of their darling dog’s daily butt licking. Remind you of someone in your home?

Why Do Dogs Lick Everything?

Dogs love to lick anything, from themselves, other pets, people, 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.

What crazy things does your dog love to lick?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets). Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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Lillian Thompson
August 21, 2020 1:48 pm

My dog licks his butt and his private parts. He’s already gotten his anal glands expressed, and he’s been to the vet, and they’ve said there’s nothing wrong with him. He constantly does it too. He had stopped licking his butt, but he was still licking his private parts. We’ve been having to put a diaper on him to stop him from licking. He sometimes bites his private too, and I’m concerned. He’s really aggressive when doing it. Also, after he licks his butt, he smacks his lips together for a little while. If someone could help me get to the bottom of this problem, it would be really helpful.

Apiffany Gaither Billings
August 24, 2020 8:40 am

How old is your dog?

Lillian Thompson
August 24, 2020 9:03 am

He’s 7 years old.

Apiffany Gaither Billings
August 24, 2020 9:52 am

Thank you for responding. I ask because many puppies are still orally fixating and you will notice these behaviors. However, the licking of genitals and butt are mainly grooming practices after urinating or pooping. If your dog has signs of swollen areas, pustules, discharge, or other signs of infection or problems, then there may be an underlying issue. Otherwise, it may be him grooming himself (as unappetizing and annoying as it can be for us humans to watch or hear, trust me, I know all about that, too!). I’m curious if he may have some seasonal or environmental allergies that he needs to have checked out. Here is more information about dog allergies.

Lillian Thompson
August 24, 2020 10:00 am

We just got my dog at the end of May, so we really don’t know a lot about him. Is there a way I could stop him from licking himself? Sometimes he bites his genitals until they bleed, but he hasn’t done that in a while. The doctors seem to have no idea what’s going on. They just go past my questions.

Apiffany Gaither Billings
August 25, 2020 7:49 pm

Hmm, that seems like it would be very frustrating. First, if he does not seem to have the symptoms of allergies or parasites and if the vet has stated there are no physical concerns of illness, then maybe it is out of boredom or anxiety? Maybe providing mental stimulation such as chew toys, puzzles, stuffed Kongs, or items that are made to stimulate dogs’ minds. My coonhound does this with her nails when she is bored and needs stimulation. Second, if you do not feel heard at your vet, perhaps you could look for another vet.

Lillian Thompson
August 25, 2020 8:00 pm

My dog is a very hyper dog, but he doesn’t like to play with toys. Which I think is weird. We gave him chew toys and a puzzle. He had no interest in either of them. He does like to play with hands though.

May 23, 2020 12:16 pm

My dog keeps licking his bum and I notice at the side of anal small round circle looks sore

Apiffany Gaither Billings
May 25, 2020 9:58 am
Reply to  Sue

Here is an article that may help. It sounds like your dog may be developing or already has a hot spot. Please see your vet or if this isn’t possible, this online vet service may be able to help.

May 7, 2020 2:05 pm

My dog licks everything from doors to floors, pants to walls, and he loves to lick dirt.

Amy Tan
May 3, 2020 6:33 am

Hi, my dog always lick her lip and nose. I also have notice that she have a consist sneezing that can happen for a few days up to a week and gradually stops on its own but comes back again.. she loves to sleep in the room with me but due to her consistent sneezing, I have set her a bed to sleep on the floor beside my bed instead. During night time she sneezes even more. There is mucus sometimes green and at times red when she sneezes uncontrollably. By the way..I sleep with aircon on around 23-24 degrees as I stay in a more tropical country.

Apiffany Gaither Billings
May 4, 2020 7:05 pm
Reply to  Amy Tan

Hi, Amy. We always recommend that you speak to your vet if you believe there is something wrong with your dog. Sneezing can be related to many conditions such as conjunctivitis, a cold, the flu, and allergies among other issues. If you cannot take your dog to a vet, perhaps this online vet service can help.

Stefan Smith
March 19, 2020 12:00 pm

So my dog licks her butt sometimes, but literally only on our bed or sofa. We will leave for an hour or two and come back to a massive wet spot. It’s rarely in her own bed and I monitor her frequently. Overall, she is really healthy. She has had some skin sensitivity stuff in the past, but we switched her food and her coat and skin are the best it has been. I don’t think her anal glands are impacted as there is little to no redness and it doesn’t smell. When she does lick her butt, normally it is in the same few spots on the sofa and bed.

Dog owner
February 22, 2020 8:40 pm

Its gross but obvisiously the dog can express his own anal glands by licking there. Only one time he forgot i guess and we had to go to vet. . .for an anus infection and impacted. We then went often to have it checked until the dog was back to keeping it clean again all by himself. . .

Sandra Czerny
January 5, 2020 9:32 pm

Why do dog’s lick their butts or me or the sheets or anything else

Animals are family 85
January 4, 2020 7:47 pm

My cocker spaniel used to lick his butt and around his belly and me and my bf didn’t know why until we took him into the vet they said he had a staff infection which is leading to licking because hes trying to cure his problem his self I felt so horrible because he was suffering through a staff infection and I didn’t know but luckily the vet gave us some meds for him… Now he gets to live happy again!