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Brown dog licking biting butt

The essentials

  • A dog licking its butt a lot signals discomfort — Licking is an attempt to self-soothe when dogs are in pain.
  • Infections, allergies, and parasites are often to blame — These common culprits are no big deal when addressed quickly.
  • See a veterinarian as soon as possible — Your dog might need medication only a vet can prescribe.

Pups sometimes do things dog parents find pretty gross, like licking their butts. Most of the time, such behavior is part of routine self-grooming. Increased or obsessive rear-end licking, however, may be a sign of a larger health concern. Dogs lick themselves to soothe something that hurts or itches, so if they persistently lick their rear end, it’s probably because something feels wrong.

5 reasons your dog keeps licking its butt

There are a few common reasons why your dog might be more interested in their bum than usual. Most are remedied quickly with the proper attention.

Anal gland problems

Dogs have glands near their anus, which naturally fill up with fluid. When dogs poop, they expel the fluid, but sometimes a dog’s anal glands become clogged (impacted) and infected, creating an abscess .

An abscess is usually swollen and very painful for your dog. You may notice your pup lick or itch at the area or scoot their bottom on the ground. Your dog’s anus area may be red, bloody, or leaking pus-like secretions with an unpleasant fish-like odor.

Monitor your pet for any scooting, licking, or redness around the rectum area.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne DVM

If any of these symptoms appear, bring your pup to the vet immediately. Veterinarians are trained to drain an abscess in a way that’s safe and as painless as possible for your pup. They’ll also provide treatment for the bacterial infection. The reason anal abscesses form in some dogs is a bit of a mystery, but some breeds, including Yorkies , may be more prone to anal gland issues.


Several types of parasites can cause anal irritation. Intestinal parasites — like tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms — can invade your dog’s intestines and often show up as little white specks in their bowel movements. An inflamed bottom is just one symptom. Vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and weight loss may be present, too.

External parasites, like mites or fleas, can affect your dog’s bum. Rather than gastrointestinal problems, your dog will likely be insatiably itchy in that area and others.


One of the top symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs, like humans, is itching. Since the bum is a sensitive area, dogs may attempt to relieve some itchiness by licking the anal area. If they’re experiencing an allergic reaction, you’ll probably see them licking or itching several areas of their body — not just their back end.

Dogs can have environmental allergies, food allergies, or an allergy to medication, so it might not be immediately clear what’s causing the reaction. Other signs of an allergic reaction may include cold-like symptoms such as watery eyes, swollen face, runny nose, trouble breathing, coughing, or chronic ear infections. You also might notice inflamed skin , fur loss, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Skin infections

It’s easy for the area surrounding your dog’s butt to get infected. It’s often exposed to feces, so punctured skin on their backside is especially prone to bacterial or fungal infection. Some breeds, like bulldogs, are especially prone to skin infections because of their tail pockets.

There are two common types of skin infections in dogs:

  • Yeast dermatitis. A yeast infection is a fungal infection and is very common in dogs, especially females. Symptoms include itchiness, scaly or crusty skin, skin that looks gray or “elephant-like,” and a musty odor on your dog.
  • Staphylococcal infection. A staph infection is a bacterial infection transmitted between dogs and humans. Good hygiene is especially important in preventing this type of infection. Symptoms include pus-filled lesions on the skin, crusty and inflamed skin appearance, excessive chewing or licking of the skin caused by extreme itch or pain, or even respiratory problems.

Persistent licking can actually intensify both types of these infections, creating a moist environment in the affected area that allows bacteria and fungi to thrive. A hot spot is formed and usually needs to dry out to heal.


When humans are nervous or bored, we might bite our nails or twist our hair. Dogs obsessively lick themselves for the same reason.

While it’s uncommon for an anxious dog to focus solely on licking their butt, it’s possible. Consider whether your dog is getting enough playtime or if they seem to have a problem with separation anxiety.

Sometimes, over-the-counter supplements can help your dog relax. Check out our favorite, vet-approved calming supplements for dogs to see about a good match. If you want to try a natural remedy to help provide relief to your pup, talk to your vet about valerian root for dogs, available over the counter.

Diagnosis and treatment

If your dog is licking their bum an increased or excessive amount, it’s a good idea to take them in for a veterinarian visit ASAP. Though most underlying causes aren’t life-threatening when handled quickly, they can become more severe with time and often require medication for treatment.

Your vet will likely prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic for an infection. Internal parasites require a dewormer, while fleas or mites might require medicated shampoo.

If allergies are to blame, your vet will help you determine the allergen and develop a game plan for avoiding exposure.

🚨 Seek professional help diagnosing and treating these conditions — most require a keen eye and special treatment.

Preventing excessive butt licking

Good hygiene can reduce the chances of infection and therefore stop licking before it starts. Regular bathing and monitoring your dog for open wounds will help you identify a problem before it escalates.

Keep an eye on your dog when outdoors, and make sure they don’t consume fecal matter (or anything else). Dogs often get worms by ingesting other dogs’ poop or contaminated soil.

Even with great hygiene and care, problems with your dog’s bum aren’t 100% avoidable, so don’t panic if you notice one. A veterinarian can help you quickly address it and get things back to normal in no time.

Frequently asked questions

Why does my dog lick their bum?

Your dog may be trying to groom itself. If a pup licks excessively, it could be a sign of a larger issue: skin allergies, skin infections, or anxiety.

What do I do if my dog keeps licking his bum?

If you notice your dog can’t seem to stop licking their behind, get them in to see your veterinarian immediately. Your vet can assess a pup’s symptoms and determine the cause of their licking.

When dogs lick their butts, is it OK to get licks from them?

Yes. Pet parents have already been exposed to bacteria by petting their dogs or just having them in their homes. However, if your dog has a bacterial infection, it may be wise to wash up afterward.

Why do dogs lick another dog’s anus?

Dogs sniff each other’s butts to greet them and also gain information about the dog: their age, health, and gender. If a dog licks another dog’s butt, it may be related to information gathering.

Why does my dog keep licking her lower back?

If your dog is licking her lower back area, it could be a sign of allergies, fleas, an infection, or anxiety, in the same way that a dog licking their bum could be a sign of a larger issue.