Doggie aficionados are no strangers to bizarre and sometimes icky canine behavior, and rear licking is definitely not an exception. However, this type of licking often has a health-related cause. Instead of grimacing when your dog sits and licks his rear, take him to see the vet, just in case.
Impacted Anal Glands
Though the term "impacted anal glands" might sound intimidating and a little weird, the condition isn't all too uncommon in dogs. Dogs' anal regions feature pairs of glands that emit rather unsavory-smelling discharge. The point of this discharge is to serve as identification for interactions between dogs, with clues on everything from physical condition to gender. In most cases, the discharge vacates the glands every time a dog passes stools. When this for whatever reason doesn't occur, however, it can lead to extremely uncomfortable impaction -- and your poor doggie sitting on the floor, licking his rear end and probably scooting around on the floor, too. A variety of different causes can lead to this impaction, including insufficient fiber in the diet.
Anal licking in dogs is also occasionally a result of the parasitic infection known as tapeworms, reports the experts from the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University. The presence of pieces of tapeworms in the anal region can be extremely bothersome to canines, which often leads to excessive licking of the area, not to mention dragging the body around on the ground. Both of these actions are usually attempts to manage the discomfort brought upon by the worms.
A classic and unpleasant case of diarrhea can also trigger your poor pooch's licking. Diarrhea involves messy, runny and loose stools, and lots of them, and the whole situation can get pretty icky in your pet's rear area -- think tangling and clumps of fur all stuck together. If your dog persistently sits around licking his rear, he could be making an effort to soothe the undoubtedly unpleasant feeling of knotting.
Rear licking in dogs isn't 100 percent a problematic or health-related behavior. Many dogs do this as a standard grooming technique -- no cause for alarm. If it seems excessive, however, or is accompanied by other unusual behaviors such as scooting, it's time to pay closer attention.
If your dog does indeed lick his buttocks and you don't suspect it's for normal cleaning purposes, it's important to take him into the veterinarian's office as soon as possible, advises the veterinarians at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. A vet can help you figure out the cause of the behavior and, if necessary, can relieve your dog by expressing those pressure-packed sacs. Excessive licking behaviors also can be problematic as they can sometimes bring on biting of the area -- not good. If your dog drags his rear onto the ground, he could also hurt himself in the process. Be timely and swift in getting your pet's checkup in motion.
- Cornell University Baker Institute for Animal Health: An Overview of Canine Tapeworm Infections
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Community Practice Service Newsletter
- Ocean City Animal Hospital: FAQs
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Anal Sac Disease
- ASPCA: Diarrhea
- DogChannel.com: Dog Diarrhea