Have you noticed recently that your dog seems to be licking his bum frequently? This behavior may seem insignificant but it’s possible that it’s a sign of a larger problem.
If you notice that your pup is grooming this area continuously a trip to the vet may be in order. In this article we’ll cover a few possible reasons why your dog might be preoccupied with his rear, and when it’s time to intervene.
He’s Just Grooming
Dogs groom themselves with their tongues, and the occasional licking of their nether-regions is just part of the process. This is especially common in breeds with longer fur, as it’s easy for fecal matter to become caught in the tufts on their hindquarters and become itchy.
This type of grooming may gross us out, but it’s important to let your dog do his thing to help alleviate his discomfort.
Does my Dog Have Parasites?
Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and even fleas may irritate your pup’s rear end. It may also cause symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.1
When left untreated, parasites can also lead to malnutrition and anemia.
Fortunately, treating parasites can be pretty straightforward. Your vet may test your dog’s stool sample to determine which type of parasite he has and prescribe a medication to eradicate them.2
His Anal Glands are Inflamed
Dogs have two small glands near their anus which hold fluid. Every time your dog poops, a small amount of liquid is excreted from these glands, leaving your dog’s signature scent marker behind.3
Unfortunately, these glands can become impacted or infected, causing your dog discomfort on his rear end. Many dogs will lick, scratch, chew or drag their bums across the floor in an effort to alleviate this feeling.
In most cases, your veterinarian may be able to “express” these anal glands to release the build-up. Sometimes, the glands may become infected and require a course of antibiotics. In extreme cases, the anal glands may become abscessed and require surgical removal. 4
Does my Dog Have Allergies?
Allergies are another common reason why your dog may be licking his bum frequently. An allergic reaction causes itching and inflammation, which often includes your dog’s anal region.
Some dogs are allergic to fleas, while others may be sensitive to shampoos or foods.
While it can be tough to pin down the culprit of an allergic reaction, once you do, the solution is simple: don’t let your dog come into contact with whatever caused the reaction. Your vet may be able to prescribe a medication to help alleviate your dog’s allergy symptoms too.
So what are dog anal glands?
The anal glands are two small glands located around the opening of a dog’s bottom and are partly responsible for the foul smell of dog poo. For us humans, all poo smells the same – pretty gross. But for dogs with their heightened sense of smell, every pile smells different.
Each dog has her own unique blend of pheremones which when secreted by the anal gland gives every poo its own unique smell. That’s why your dog will often sniff another dog’s bottom or poo. She is getting unique information about the owner of that bottom. Yuck right? Well in a healthy pet it’s not too much of an issue but for a dog that suffers from anal gland problems, it’s a very smelly and uncomfortable affair.
Blocked Anal Glands
For some dogs the anal glands become compacted. This means that the hole from which the mucus is secreted becomes blocked by a thickening of the mucus and their signature scent cannot be emitted. The afflicted dog will start to feel very uncomfortable and the area around the anus may become red and sore. If you notice your pet scooting across the floor on his/her bottom or constantly licking their rear then it’s an indication that he/she may be suffering from an anal gland issue.
It’s obviously vital that you visit your vet in the first instance to rule out anything more serious. However if your vet thinks it is an anal gland issue he/she will probably suggest expressing the anal glands. Lots of information on the web will tell you how to do this yourself however I really wouldn’t advise it. It’s a smelly job, with brown foul smelling liquid being expressed. If not done properly, it could cause considerable discomfort to your pet. Leave it to the experts. Expressing the anal glands is a short term fix and will provide your pet with temporary relief however if you don’t address the underlying problem in the first place then you may well end up back at the vets within a couple of months with the same complaint on your hands.
However, there is plenty that you can do at home to alleviate this condition. I recommend that you try to identify the cause of the problem
Diet is the biggest culprit when it comes to compacted anal glands. Many of us feed our dogs on commercial pet foods which have a high cereal content. Whilst commercial grain based dog foods are convenient they are generally not the best diet for our pets. If you’re reading this article you may have heard of the BARF diet. This is a diet composed of raw meaty bones and vegetables. This is an ideal diet for keeping our dogs healthy and for avoiding anal gland compaction. When you feed your dog bones, it helps to keep the stools firm. A firm stool is essential for expressing the anal glands. Too soft and the anal gland will not be expressed fully hence leading to a build-up of mucus and therefore compaction. Not rocket science right? Click here for more information about feeding a natural diet.
If you really can’t completely give up the commercial pet foods then try to incorporate a few simple changes into your pet’s diet such as adding a raw bone to her dinner. Contrary to popular belief it shouldn’t be a hard bone such as a marrow bone.