If your pooch isn’t playing or eating…
You may see them busy licking their tail.
Like it’s a nice chewy bone or a piece of meat.
And they won’t leave it until it’s soaking wet.
Is there something in it that makes them come back for more?
Keep reading to discover:
- What makes your dog lick the base of their tail.
- If it’s only a normal grooming behavior or a sign of another issue.
- Whether you need to be alarmed by this excessive ‘wetting’ problem.
- 7 helpful tips on how to make them stop and leave their back end alone.
- And many more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog keep licking their base of tail?
Your dog keeps licking their base of tail because they have anal problems, tapeworms, a hot spot, anxiety, pent-up energy, or they’re grooming. They can also be in discomfort due to a hormonal imbalance, injury, or bone problem. Allergies are possible as well – flea, food, environmental, or contact.
13 reasons why your dog licks the base of the tail
#1: Flea allergy dermatitis
These tiny wingless pests may not leave your pooch through lick and thin.
Yup. Unless a regular flea-control program happens.
But you might ask,
“I haven’t seen any of them on my dogs. Why is that so?”
Sadly, they can still have this allergy even if they’re not infested.
Just one bite with flea saliva would make them itch like crazy. And it’ll last for days.
Most canines may have this allergy. And the first thing you’ll notice is hair loss along with itching.
Experts call it the ‘flea triangle’, which consists of the:
- Base of tail.
- Middle part of the back.
So this allergy could be the reason why your Fido licks or even chews their rear. And they’ll also feel restless and always irritated.
Warning: Fleas are a triple threat. If infested, they might cause not only allergies but also tapeworms and anemia. So, get rid of them immediately.
#2: Anal sacs problem
Aside from licking, does your pooch also scoot their behind like they’re skating on the floor?
It may look like a cool trick. But trust me, their bum is on fire.
Aw! So what’s happening with them?
Have you ever heard of anal sacs?
Those are two small pouches inside their anus which hold some awful-smelling fluids.
They’re released whenever they poop and contain their identity. So those liquids are also used in marking territory.
When those sacs aren’t drained completely, they’ll be blocked by the dried fluids.
And boom. There would be chances of an infection. Or worse, a pus build-up.
What do I need to do?
Those pouches need to be emptied. And this should be done by an expert.
Although there are videos about it on Youtube, it’s risky as you may injure them.
Plus, it’s a real dirty job. So, better entrust it to your vet for your doggo’s safety.
You might also like: 5 Reasons Why Dogs Sniff Their Own Bums + 7 Dangers
Is your pooch up to date with deworming?
Because this could also be a sneaky situation.
There are different kinds of intestinal parasites. But tapeworms are said to be pricklier in their rear end.
Why do they cause itchiness?
They’re made up of segments. And guess what, each of them has their male and female sexual organs.
So once ingested, these long worms will live in the intestines. And when they mature, every segment will produce eggs.
Then dogs will poop out some of them. And that’s when it’ll become a real pain in the butt.
I know. So imagine how your Fido feels every time those wriggle out of their tush.
That’s why they lick the base of their tail – to soothe their discomfort.
Fun fact: Do you know that these skinny worms are way older than dinosaurs? Paleontologists discovered some of their eggs in a shark’s poop, which existed 270 million years ago. So that’s when the Earth’s landmass is still a single Pangaea. Wow!
#4: Hormonal imbalances
Your pooch might also be experiencing some changes inside their body. And it’s showing on their skin.
The culprit could be their hormones.
They may be producing too little or too much. And it results in different kinds of diseases such as:
- Diabetes – Insulin deficiency.
- Cushing’s disease – Increased cortisol.
- Hypothyroidism – Reduced thyroid hormones.
So, do you notice any pigmentation or thickening in their skin?
Hair loss and dull coat are some of its signs too.
If you see any of these on your Fido, especially on their tail, this could be it. As they’ll also lick and nibble the infected areas due to irritation.
Other symptoms are:
- Weight loss.
- Increased appetite.
- Excessive hunger/thirst.
This condition can only be found in female dogs – particularly those who keep on licking their backside, as well as their private part.
So what happens is when their vagina is infected, it’ll be swollen. And will produce frequent mucus-like fluids, which explains their ‘cleaning’ behavior.
“Oh, no. What may have caused this?”
Some of the possible reasons are:
- Foreign bodies.
- Vaginal trauma.
- Bacterial infection.
Note: Puppies might also have this condition even when they’re not yet in puberty. And most of them will not show any signs except for discharges.
#6: Food allergies
These are often mistaken as ‘sensitivities.’
And they’re different from each other.
Allergies affect the immune system. In contrast, intolerances attack the digestive system.
So when dogs have a severe food allergy, they can have breathing difficulty. However, in some cases, there could only be itchiness, swollen skin, or stomach issues.
But, those are still unpleasant. And your pup’s weird and licking behavior might be because of them.
Aside from itchy ears and backside, they may also show:
- Weight loss.
- Less energy.
So what causes this?
Research reveals the top 5 allergens in canines with their percentages. And these are:
- Beef (34%).
- Wheat (13%).
- Lamb (14.5%).
- Chicken (15%).
- Dairy products (17%).
My doggo didn’t eat any ‘new’ food but has an allergic reaction.
In your case, they might only be showing signs now. Experts say that it can also take up to 2 years before Fidos will display any reaction to a particular food.
Warning: Dogs with this allergy are also prone to developing more, such as flea and atopic dermatitis. So monitor them closely and groom them regularly.
#7: Environmental allergies
Does your pooch love to roll on the grass?
Oh no. Allergens are everywhere. And they might be reacting to some of it.
This can be due to pollen, dust mites, grass, molds, or trees.
Usually, you’ll also notice hair loss or swelling of a region in their skin. But they may also exhibit these signs:
- Itchy skin.
- Runny eyes.
- Lesions (top/under the feet).
Note: If you suspect your Fido of having this, I’d say keep them off of the grass for now or change walking routes. Also, always clean their paws and tush with dog wet wipes or a cloth after going out. This is to get rid of any possible allergens that might have stuck on them.
#8: Contact dermatitis
Do you recall any past activities that you did with your pooch?
They might have had contact with an allergen. And you weren’t aware of it.
Did they recently play on a lawn? Because that may be filled with pesticides.
Or, they’re allergic to a specific shampoo or soap. There could be some residue on the base of their tail and irritates their skin.
This is why they can have these other symptoms:
- Skin rashes.
- Eye irritations.
- Itchy scrotum/groins/genitals.
- Skin thickening and pigmentation.
#9: ‘Hot spot’
It could also be that your dog has been licking the base of their tail nonstop.
As a result, they’ll have a ‘hot spot’ in that area.
Ouch! Just the name of it makes you squirm. So what more if you see this on your pooch.
This is a red, raw, and inflamed patch on the skin. And this is caused by:
- Ear infection.
- Poor hygiene.
- Too much licking.
- Anal gland problems.
Does canine saliva have antibacterial properties?
A study shows that their saliva indeed has these. But, it’s not too strong against certain viruses.
Have you also observed that mother dogs often lick their newborns?
They usually do it to their pups’ genitals to prevent them from getting diseases. And to prompt their peeing and pooping.
But in your doggo’s case, constant licking may not help in curing the wound.
Instead, it’ll get even worse. So once you spot one in their body, do the tips you’ll find below.
#10: Pain due to an injury/orthopedic problem
Apart from itchiness, your dog may also lick their body parts out of pain.
They’re trying to relieve it somehow as they don’t have any other means. And they need immediate help.
It could be a tail injury. Or an orthopedic issue like:
- Disc disease.
- Hip dysplasia.
Symptoms to watch out for are:
- Arched back.
- Reduced appetite.
If your pooch displays any of these, it means they’re in great discomfort. So you should go to the pet clinic at once.
Read further: 7 Reasons Why Your Dog Lays Down To Eat + 3 Tips
If all medical issues are ruled out, and they’re still doing it…
This could also be due to anxiety.
But how is it connected?
Specialists say that the act of licking produces endorphins – ‘happy hormones.’
So when stressed, some dogs might do it to feel elated. And they also said that once this habit has started, it can be addictive.
This is why you may notice them wetting their body more frequently. And more intense than before.
Do they also love to do it on other things? Check out this related article.
#12: Lack of stimulation
If your doggo only does it from time to time, it might also be out of boredom.
How much exercise do they get every day?
If it’s low, they can have so much pent-up energy and have resorted to tail licking as it gives them a boost of happy chemicals.
Or, it could be that they receive little mental stimulation.
Along with their body, their mind also needs some workout. This is why most say that a tired dog is a happy one.
And it’s true as they’ll be occupied – reducing the chances of them getting worried about something.
#13: Grooming behavior
“What are you staring at, hooman?
I’m just trying to make my tail as sLICK as possible.”
Lastly, if they’re not licking it aggressively, it might only be normal.
Dogs also groom themselves. But they don’t spend much time like cats.
Apart from cleaning wounds, they’re also doing this to maintain their shiny coat and brush their loose hair.
Read next: Why does my dog act like a cat?
7 tips on what to do if your dog licks their base of the tail
#1: Consult a vet
The first step is to determine the root cause of your Fido’s irritation.
But how will you know if this is a medical or behavioral problem?
It’s by having them checked by an expert first. This is important in knowing what your next steps are.
Whether it’s changing their diet, losing weight, or helping them with anxiety.
For anal problems: Their sacs need to be expressed. If they’re already infected, or there’s a build-up, medications or surgery are required.
For worms: Stool test and deworming.
For fleas: Thorough checking for fleas and eggs.
For diseases and bone problems: A blood test, urine screening, x-ray, and ultrasound might be required. This is to know what treatment plan, care, or surgery they need.
#2: Get rid of parasites
Is it confirmed that they have a specific type of parasite?
If so, the next step would be eliminating them.
If your pooch doesn’t have any wounds yet, a flea shampoo may work on them.
However, if they have irritated skin, consult with an expert first. Oral or topical meds might be recommended.
Once your dog is pest-free, don’t stop there.
During the process, sanitize your surroundings regularly. Wash their beds and toys with soap. And even your sheets and mats.
Always vacuum your place because experts say one flea can make 50 eggs daily that may fall on your carpets and beddings.
Also, avoid going out when it’s ‘peak season.’
Want to know when it is in your state? Check out this map.
This is connected to fleas as your Fido may get these worms from consuming them. So, eliminate all of them.
Also, prompt and proper cleaning of their poop is important. This is to avoid the tapeworms from spreading and living in other places.
#3: Say bye to allergies
Do you suspect your pooch of having allergies?
Ask your vet to do a test and check-up to rule out other health conditions.
Once you know what it is, the best treatment would be avoidance. A change in their diet and lifestyle can also be necessary.
But if you think it’s a food reaction, you may try…
PetMD recommends giving them food that they haven’t eaten yet for 8 to 12 weeks. This is to know whether they have a food allergy or not.
The meal plan will consist of a unique source of carbs and protein. The latter could be a ‘hydrolyzed’ product.
It’s a food that’s been processed not to cause any allergic reaction.
Note: If you’re going to do this, you need to be strict. Don’t fall for their tricks and avoid giving them treats or some table food.
#4: Modify their diet
They say the way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach.
And when they’re sick, what we feed them is going to be crucial.
If they often have anal sac issues, a high-fiber diet is said to make their poop firm.
It’s also needed if they have diabetes because it can help in maintaining their blood sugar levels.
Also, avoid snacks high in fat and gluten. As much as possible, give your pooch hearty but healthy ones. Such as:
- Unsalted popcorn.
- Plain-boiled chicken.
Note: Change their diet gradually as their tummy may react to a sudden shift in meals. Also, consult first with your vet or nutritionist to ensure they get all their needs.
#5: Treat their hot spot
If your pooch doesn’t have one yet, prevent it from happening.
How? You can do it by:
- Constant monitoring.
- Regular grooming and bathing.
- Avoiding what irritates their skin.
But if they already have a patch, VCA suggests you:
- Put an E-collar to them to avoid nibbling.
- Have the fur around the area clipped by a groomer.
- Apply a vet-recommended topical treatment on the wound.
- Make them take an approved oral steroid or antihistamines.
#6: Manage their anxiety
Are they clear of all medical issues?
If yes, you may need to work on their anxiety to stop the excessive licking.
Know their body language to determine if they’re nervous or not.
An anxious dog may:
- Lick their lips.
- Tuck their tail.
- Have flat ears.
- Pee more often.
- Pant with no reason.
Then find their stressor and remove them from it.
Try not to comfort them so much. And provide them with a ‘safe spot’ instead.
It’s a room or crate where they can be alone whenever they feel nervous.
#7: Exercise and bond with them more
Do they seem bored?
The best way to solve all of these is an increase in their daily exercise. And what I mean is a balanced one – with enough physical and mental stimulation.
For their body: Walk them more frequently. Play games like fetch or hide and seek (treats). Or anything they would love and are safe for their medical condition (if there’s any).
For their mind: Teach them tricks/commands. Give them interactive puzzle toys.
Challenge their mind and keep them busy. So they won’t think of licking their tail or other body parts.
Note: Aside from these, ensure you’re giving them enough care and attention. Physical contact may also help them to feel better and secure. 🙂