The dreaded dog-butt lick. If you are a current dog owner or have owned a dog in the past, you have seen this behavior more times than you can count, and certainly more times than you probably would have liked. Dogs tend to do this quite frequently, and unless you follow certain steps to keep your dog clean and fresh, he will probably continue to do so.
Luckily, though, there are plenty of pet cleaning products and tips that can help keep your dog from turning to this act of licking in the first place. You should keep in mind that while most times, licking the hindquarters is just part of grooming, sometimes it can be a sign of a bigger health problem or condition, so you should pay close attention to your dog’s behavior to see if anything else is out of the ordinary.
Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves?
More often than not, your dog licking his/her butt will be an indicator that something is making them itchy and there is something they are trying to clean off of themselves.
If your dog is a breed with long hair, it is highly likely that your dog is doing this just as a means of self-cleaning and grooming, because longer hair makes it easy for fecal matter to become caught in their fur. This method of self-grooming may be gross to us, but it is your dog’s way of taking care of himself.
If the grooming takes place more frequently than you think it should, you should consider cleaning or bathing your dog more often to help keep the area clean.
Parasites or Fleas
Aside from self-grooming, it is also possible for this licking behavior to be a sign of a bigger problem. Fleas and various types of parasites can cause irritation to your dog’s hindquarters and may cause physical symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting.
If your dog has a parasite that goes untreated, it can result in malnutrition and even anemia, so if you suspect that this may be the case, it is necessary for you to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Luckily, parasites are highly treatable, and treatment is straightforward. Your veterinarian will likely test your dog’s stool to determine the specific type of parasite, and treat accordingly with medication.
Infected anal glands can be another cause of your dog’s incessant licking. If these glands become impacted or infected, they can cause a great deal of discomfort to your furry friend, and this discomfort may cause your dog to scratch, lick, chew, or drag the affected area as an attempt to alleviate the unpleasant feeling.
If you think this is what’s bothering your dog, it is time for a trip to the vet. When it comes to problems with your dog’s glands, your dog’s diet is likely what is causing the problem. Many commercial pet foods have a high cereal content, which is not necessarily the best option for your dog even though it is highly affordable and available.
The ideal diet to keep your dog happy and healthy is one consisting of raw meaty bones and vegetables because bones help your dog’s stool firm which is necessary for the glands to express appropriately.
Allergic reactions can be another reason why your dog might start licking his butt more frequently, as allergies can cause pain and inflammation. Some allergic reactions may be caused by an allergy to fleas, or allergies to shampoos or certain foods.
If you think this is the case, pay attention to the things your dog does during the day before the licking starts. This will help you identify what is causing the reaction, and once you identify the source, you can eliminate it or switch it out for a different product.
You can also take your dog to the vet and have a medication prescribed to alleviate any symptoms your dog is experiencing. Don’t try to give your dog your own allergy medication without guidance from your vet.
Along the same lines, many skin infections can cause discomfort around your dog’s rear end, causing them to lick at the affected area. Bacterial and fungal infections can occur if the skin was broken, and the anal area is specifically prone to such infections because of the presence of fecal matter.
Your dog can even make the irritation worse by licking at the infection, so if you suspect a skin infection to be the culprit, take your pup to the vet and have it taken care of. Like many other conditions, skin infections are highly treatable, and your dog should be back to normal in no time after a vet has given you the proper medication or treatment.
My Dog is Just Grooming -- Can I Make Him Do This Less Often?
If you are certain that your dog’s licking behaviors are just his way of self-cleaning, then there are a few steps you can take to keep your dog clean, and these steps may also help reduce the frequency of licking.
Your dog’s grooming behaviors are a reflection of your behaviors when it comes to cleaning your dog. If your dog spends most of his time cleaning various parts of his body, it probably means it is time for a bath.
You can use your favorite store-bought pet-friendly shampoo, but regular castile soap is another great option. Castile soap works well for pets because the natural oils it contains help keep your dog’s coat moisturized.
Our Citrus Castile Soap is free of alcohol and sulfates, and it is nontoxic, so you can keep your dog fresh without having to worry about other health risks. The citrus scent is also a natural fragrance, so you don’t have to question whether or not there are other, hidden ingredients.
Another helpful product is pet-cleaning wipes. Wipes are helpful because cleanup is easy (just toss them in the trash when you’re done), and you can always have them on-hand. When your dog comes back inside after going to the bathroom, a quick wipe can keep them clean and help divert their licking.
Dr. Brite’s Pet Pure Cleansing Wipes feature coconut oil and oat kernel extract so that you can clean your dog without irritating their skin. They are also odor removing and 100% pet safe, which means you can have total peace of mind.
One more product that will not stop your dog from grooming himself, but will help you be less grossed out by it, is an oral cleansing spray made for pets. Our Pet Pure Oral Cleansing Spray leaves your dog with clean, healthy gums and teeth, and removes germs and other bacteria. This means that if you use this spray after your dog has been licking his hindquarters, any germs that were transferred in the process will be taken care of, and your furry friend will have fresher breath, too.
All in all, if your dog is only licking himself a few times now and then, you can assume this is just part of their regular self-grooming routine. If the licking seems to be nonstop, or if it is accompanied by biting and chewing or scooting on the floor, there could be something else going on, and you should see your vet just to be safe.
All dog owners have become familiar with the grooming strategy where a dog will lick its rear-end, and though this behavior is unpleasant to watch, it is often a normal part of a dog’s self-cleaning.
Sometimes, though, this behavior is a sign that your dog has a more serious, underlying health issue going on. Indications of a more serious problem include biting or scratching at the area, or dragging it across the floor. If these acts are also accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, it is possible that your dog has a parasite or flea problem.
Regardless, scratching, biting, and licking behaviors that come in combination are a sign that you should take your dog to the veterinarian to make sure everything is alright. If there is a bigger health condition, your vet will be able to treat it properly or give you any medications your pet might need.
If your dog really is just grooming, cleaning and bathing your pet more frequently may help reduce the frequency of the licking, and products like pet wipes can be used on-the-go or kept handy to be used after your dog goes to the bathroom.
Following a pet cleaning routine and paying mind when your dog exhibits unpleasant grooming behaviors can help you keep your dog cleaner, avoiding these behaviors overall.