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Boston terriers and French bulldogs can both have tail pockets. Dogs walking up steps.

The essentials

What is a tail pocket, and does my dog have one?

A tail pocket is a small space under or over a dog’s tail where dirt, dead skin, and fur can build up. Because it’s close to the anus, bacteria and yeast can easily grow there. Thus, it’s crucial to keep the area clean and dry. Dogs with short hair and wrinkles, like bulldogs and pugs, are most prone to tail pockets. But other dogs with similar tail shapes, like the Boston terriers,  can have them too.

Checking for a tail pocket is simple: gently press around the base of the tail with a gloved hand. If you feel a space above or below the tail, your dog has a tail pocket. Some tail pockets form because of wrinkles, while others are natural due to the shape of the tail. Overweight dogs with tail pockets may have more issues. Let’s learn how to properly clean your dog’s tail pocket!

🚨If your dog’s tail tip is pressing into the skin around the base of the tail or into itself, seek veterinary attention. This is not a tail pocket but an ingrown tail or corkscrew tail

A step-by-step guide to cleaning your dog’s tail pocket

From cleaning to soothing, here’s what you need to do to keep your dog’s tail pocket area clean and prevent infections. You can repeat this process daily or a couple of times a week, depending on your dog’s anatomy and needs.

Step 1: Remove all dirt and debris build-up from the tail pocket

Before you can begin to use any antifungal balms and sprays, you need to clean your dog’s tail pocket thoroughly. First, lift your pup’s tail so you can reach the tail pocket indentation. Then, gently wipe out any dust, dirt, and debris build-up using a medicated wet wipe, baby wipes, or a damp cloth. Remember that some dogs may find this ticklish, so be gentle because it’s a sensitive area! If your dog’s tail pocket is above the tail, gently lift the wrinkles and clean under them.

👉 Consider wearing gloves as tail pockets may accumulate unpleasant residue.

Step 2: Carefully dry the tail pocket

Gently pat the tail pocket dry with a fresh cloth or cotton ball. You don’t want to leave your dog’s tail pocket damp because that could turn it into a breeding ground for bacterial or yeast infections. Be extra careful if your dog has any irritation or inflammation in their tail pocket area.

Step 3: Apply a soothing balm or spray to prevent irritation and infection

Tail pockets can become very easily infected, especially if not kept clean enough. To keep your pup comfortable after cleaning the tail pocket, generously apply a soothing balm or antibacterial spray to the area. Not only will this help to prevent infection and irritation, but it will also relieve any dry skin or itchiness. If your dog’s tail pocket tends to stay damp, you can use baby powder to help.

Wrinkle balm add – Alternately Vetericyn.

Wrinkle Balm is great for cleaning your pup’s sensitive tail pocket, thanks to its combination of all-natural ingredients. Soothing rosemary extract disinfects the area, niaouli relieves pain, and olive leaf extract’s anti-inflammatory properties help calm irritation.

Wrinkle Balm Ingredients

Avocado Oil, Rosemary Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Niaouli, Natural Vitamin, Hempseed Oil, Stearic Acid, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, Calendula, Candelilla Wax, Coconut Oil

👉 Check out our list of dog paw balms for more must-have doggie skin care products. 

👉 Check out our article about cleaning and caring for your wrinkly dog’s skin.

Overweight bulldogs are more likely to have tail pockets.

Why do I need to clean my dog’s tail pocket?

Keeping your dog’s tail pocket clean is essential to their care and the best way to keep the area infection-free. If grime builds up in your pup’s tail pocket, it can cause redness, dry skin, inflammation, and yeast/ bacterial infections. Pay close attention to your dog’s tail pocket to avoid these problems. In rare instances, extremely difficult-to-clean tail pockets may necessitate tail amputation to prevent infection. When in doubt, contact your vet!

The only time surgical intervention is necessary is when the tail makes defecating difficult. Otherwise, much of management is from a medical standpoint (e.g., cleaning, topicals, etc.)

Dr. Erica Irish

How to handle a mildly infected tail pocket

Despite your best efforts, your dog’s tail pocket may become infected. Maybe you’ve noticed a stinky odor or discharge? That could be an early sign of infection. Be sure to clean the tail pocket and dry it well. Then, apply a dog-safe antibiotic/antifungal like Vetericyn. Repeat the process once or twice daily until the smell and irritation disappears. If the infection doesn’t go away, gets worse, or your dog is in pain, consult your veterinarian.

How often should I clean my dog’s tail pocket?

Your dog’s tail pocket may need cleaning more or less often than other dogs. Start by cleaning once weekly. If there’s a lot of buildup between cleanings, increase to two or three times weekly. Your dog may lick or chew at the area when it bothers them, which is a sign that the tail pocket needs cleaning. If you see signs of infection, cleaning and treating up to twice daily can help. When in doubt, contact your vet.

The bottom line about tail pockets

It’s easy to miss a tail pocket, especially if you’re unfamiliar with them or new to owning a breed prone to this issue. Once you’re aware, regularly checking and cleaning the area is crucial for preventing problems. Keeping your dog’s tail pocket clean and infection-free is a top priority for their overall health and well-being.

Frequently asked questions

How do you treat a dog’s tail pocket infection?

Most of the time, cleaning the area well and treating it with a topical pet-safe antibiotic/antifungal product daily for several days will resolve the issue. However, some more serious infections may require veterinary attention.

Do groomers clean tail pockets?

Since the groomer cleans and bathes your dog from head to toe, they should clean the tail pocket. Yet, if you know your dog has a tail pocket, it doesn’t hurt to let the groomer know so they can pay extra attention to the area.

Why does my dog have an indent by her tail?

An indent above or below the tail can be a tail pocket. Tail pockets can be naturally occurring or formed by wrinkles in the dog’s skin (natural or from obesity).

What should I use to clean my dog’s tail pocket?

You can use a damp cloth, specialized dog wrinkle-cleaning wipes, or even a simple baby wipe.

Do all dogs have a tail pocket?

No. Usually, the only dogs with tail pockets are those with stub tails or no tails. They generally occur in dogs with lots of wrinkles and short coats, such as bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers. They can also occur in extremely overweight dogs.