Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Midnight. Your poor dog has been incessantly licking his bum.
The first day you notice it, you chucked it up to him or her having a little tickle on the bum. Nothing to worry about right!! Well, the next day he or she is still at it. Licking their bum incessantly, only this time, a little more furiously that yesterday. This goes on the third and the fourth day. You even notice that it is becoming harder to get your dog’s attention. Even obeying some normal house rules has become a problem for your dog due to his or her attention being excessively on the bum.
Now you are a bit worried. What is wrong with my dog? What can I do to solve this problem?
Well, the cause for your dog’s behavior of licking bum excessively can fall into these two categories:
1. Behavioral Reasons, that’s a habit your dog is trying to pick up. This can easily be corrected by Positive Reinforcement Training.
2. Medical Reasons or conditions resulting from an allergy, infection, or pain going on in that area of your dog’s body.
To understand and address the problem properly, you need to understand both causes of the problem.
Behavioral reasons why our dogs lick their bum is quite common. Your dog might be licking himself or herself as part of a grooming technique, they also might be doing it out of boredom or that they just like the taste of the area (like when they lick your skin, they are just enjoying the salty taste of your body).
Behavioral reasons for licking is not something to bother much about, unless it seems to be more frequent than necessary. Then you have to implement some Positive Reinforcement Training technique to stop this habit. This basically would involve redirecting their attention to something else and rewarding them when they comply with the directive.
As for Medical reasons, as stated earlier, this can be the result of an infection, an allergy, tumor, wound, or Gastrointestinal problems. Some indications that your dogs licking bum habit has passed the behavioral stage are:
i.) Excessive Scooting:
From time to time, your dog might drag its rear on the ground to relieve himself of some itch (Don’t we as humans have those moments too!!). Sometimes they may just be cleaning the anal glands, especially on grass. But when you find this behavior excessive, that is going on days on end without fail. Then it’s likely an indication of a medical problem.
ii.) Intensive Licking:
Dogs lick their bums from time to time, this is more a case of reflex action (the same way you would blink your eye and not think much of it). The sign of this being a problem when this licking becomes very intense to the extent of your dog being unable to hear or carry out your commands. It can be so bad that even when you manage to get his or her attention. They snap back and continue the intensive licking.
iii.) Startled Look:
This is usually in connection with the extreme sensitivity your dog will be experiencing due to the pain or high itch experienced from the anal nerve endings. Let me throw more light on this with an example. Your dog may be sitting comfortably in the corner and all of a sudden, he or she jumps up as if startled by something. Of course, you look around but there is nothing in the vicinity that indicates something has happened. Your cue here should be your dog looking at his or her rear end after this act.
iv.) Foul smell from the anal area:
The anal area is usually a thing of pride for your dog. It is a form of identification between him and other dogs (see them as the human version of identification cards).
This smell is somewhat undetected by humans, so if for any you perceive a foul smell from your dog’s anal area, then this is a strong indication of your dog having a medical problem
v.) Open wounds:
This may be due to some infection or excessive scooting and licking. The anal glands may produce pocket pus. This pus ends up rupturing out on the skin near the dog’s rectum. If this is the case with your dog, then he is likely to be showing all the signs or indications listed here for Medical conditions.
This rupture is usually called Anal Sac disease and causes a lot of pain to your dog. The infection if not properly controlled can spread more into the rectal area.
For most dog owners, they may be tempted to try and express the dog’s glands (sort of cleaning out the rectal area). This I would strongly advise against. Unless you live in a remote area with just you and your dog. It is highly advisable to get your veterinary doctor to handle this problem. This way the veterinary doctor becomes the bad guy and you maintain the bond you have with your dog. Imagine trying to give your child an injection. I am sure you did rather chuck up that responsibility to your doctor.
Now that you know the signs for your dog having a rectal itching problem. It is also important that you know the things that cause the rectal itching problem for you to avoid them. These are:
i.) Flea allergy
This is a common affliction in most dogs(and cats), This is caused by the saliva of a tiny organism called a Flea. Like most parasitic animals, they attach themselves to their hosts. Feeding of the nutrients of their host bodies and giving practically nothing in return.
Fleas have a short lifespan(12 days) but because of their fast and large reproduction cycle (40 to 50 cycles a day), the presence of even one flea on our dogs left untreated can be very harmful in the end.
The saliva from the flea causes the dog to have an itchy feeling which makes the dog scratch themselves and develop hair loss or in our case licking his or her bum excessively.
A complete treatment of this allergy would be in three folds
a.) Using some form of topical or cleansing application (spray) on the infected dog(this includes other dogs or pets in the household) b.) Cleansing all areas where there is a possibility of exposure to fleas and
c.) Cleansing the pet’s living area.
Of course, this is just a summarized version of what should be done. Be sure to contact your vet doctor for professional advice.
We sometimes unknowingly contribute to our dog’s bum licking behavior by feeding them food they are allergic to. It is worth noting right off the bat that food allergy is very different from food intolerance.
In food intolerance, our pets are unable to digest the food taken in. A good example of this is lactose intolerance. But in food allergy, the food taken into the system is properly digested but then the immune system of our dogs sees these digested entities more as a threat to the well-being of our dogs and hence tries to fight and push them out of the system.
Apart from a dog licking its bum excessively, common signs of food allergy are chronic gas, gastrointestinal problems, chronic ear inflammation, and licking their own feases.
There is no real cure yet for food allergy problems in dogs. The best that can be done would be a diet elimination process. You simply start afresh with specific diet needs and add other diet needs when your dog doesn’t react to what has been given to him. If there is some reaction, then that diet need is removed for the time being in the dog’s diet.
Don't worry if it sounds a bit confusing, remember this is a medical issue for your dog, and so this diet planning is something that your vet doctor will do for you. I would strongly advise you not to gamble on your dog's health. Get professional advice and deal with the issue properly.
iii.)Anal Sac problems
This is another reason why your dog might be licking his or her bum excessively. Am sure you are thinking? What is an Anal Sac problem? First, let’s define an Anal Sac.
Our dogs have what looks like two small pouches on either side of their anus. These pouches produce an oily, brown, smelly substance which dogs use to identify themselves or mark their territory.
When these two small pouches get infected or develop an abscess (in medical terms), your dog will be said to have an Anal Sac problem. One of the ways the Anal Sac can get infected is: When a dog poops, the Anal Sac sort of expands releasing some of its liquid substance with the poop. If this liquid substance is not released properly with the poop, it will reside on the surface of the anal sacs. With time, these liquid substances dry up and start causing irritations on the surface of the pouches. This in turn leads to wounds and infection therefore the term Anal Sac problem.
Your dog may display his or her Anal Sac problem by scooting, showing pain when pooping, and excessively licking their bum. There is also a strong bad smell that accompanies this problem.
As with all medical problems, your vet doctor would be the best to handle this. Your doctor would probably drain the content of the abscess, prescribe some antibiotics, and advise you to increase the fiber content of your dog’s diet to enable a better digestion process in your dog.
Tapeworms can also cause our dogs to lick their bums. Tapeworms can be gotten by dogs by coming into contact with infected Flea eggs. As the Flea egg continues to mature, so does the tapeworm. The dog is trying to groom himself or herself, ingests the infected flea thereby ingesting the tapeworm.
As with Flea management, the tapeworm infection should also be in three phases:
a.)Treating the infected dog and other pets around
b.) Cleansing all suspected areas of possible infection
c.) Cleansing the pet’s living area.
Also, some form of medication from your vet doctor would help speed up your dog’s recovery.
This is one of the most dreaded feedback which you can get from your veterinary doctor about your dog. This is because tumors indicate that your dog is not far from developing cancerous traits which means the inevitable for our dogs.
Tumors are usually lumps or bumps you find developing on your dog’s body area for no just reason. Like I said earlier Tumors can actually develop on a dog but are not cancerous. In that case, you should thank your lucky stars and follow whatever instructions given to you by your vet doctor religiously.
Usually, the smaller the tumor, the easier it is to handle.
On the positive side, tumors don’t just occur in dogs at their early stages in life. Although research from The National Institute’s Center for Cancer Research says that cancerous tumor is on of the leading causes of death in dogs, they also go on to explain that because our dogs are living longer than usual, these new types of alignments crop up.
Senior citizen dogs are more prone to this problem, and the best thing we can do is to make their life as comfortable as possible.
So that’s it. Basically, a good cleansing routine can go a long way in preventing anal itching problems with your dog. Proper diet, exercise, and most importantly love can go a long way in managing the situation.
At the end of the day, our dogs care more about their relationship with us than anything else. Use every little opportunity to show him or her the love and bonding they truly seek.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.