Seeing your dog constantly licking the base of its tail can be concerning. You may wonder what is wrong and worry that your dog needs to see the vet.
Why does your dog keep licking the base of its tail? In some cases, it’s a normal grooming habit, but it can be a sign of fleas or parasites. Dogs may also lick to ease anxiety or curb boredom. Allergies or hormones may also be to blame for constant licking.
Before you assume the worst, take a look at your dog. Then, you can determine the potential cause and schedule a vet visit if necessary.
14 Reasons Why Your Dog Licks the Base of Their Tail
There are many reasons why your dog may lick the base of its tail. The specific cause varies from dog to dog, and it may even change over your pup’s lifetime.
Understanding what causes the habit can help you determine if the problem warrants a visit to the veterinarian.
You may need to experiment with a few things to find the source. Then, you’ll know what adjustments to make so that your dog can feel better.
Let’s take a closer look at 14 reasons your dog may lick the base of its tail.
1. Normal Grooming Habit
To an extent, licking their tail is normal for dogs. They do it to keep the area clean, heal wounds, and maintain their coat. While dogs don’t groom themselves as much as cats, it’s still an important part of their daily routine.
If you occasionally see your dog licking the area around its tail, it may simply be grooming. However, if the licking ever appears to be excessive, that’s a good sign something else is going on.
2. Infected Anal Glands
Your dog has anal glands inside its rectum that produce fluid for marking territory. Unfortunately, there is the potential for some of the fluid to clog the glands.
When that happens, your dog can develop a build-up or infection. If your dog scoots its butt along the floor, it may need a vet to express its anal glands.
A dog might lick the base of its tail if they have tapeworms or other parasites. Tapeworms can be particularly uncomfortable because they often create an unpleasant prickly sensation inside your dog.
Your unfortunate fur ball might start to experience pain when they poop out some of the tapeworms. Licking its hindquarters may help ease some of your dog’s pain and discomfort. Be sure to get deworming medication to prevent future problems.
4. Flea or Parasite Bites
If your dog has or has had fleas, the fleas could have bitten your dog anywhere. Your dog’s behind isn’t immune to bites and the problems that are associated with them.
Check their rear to see if there’s a red bump near their anus. If so, your dog may be trying to soothe the pain and itchiness from a bite. A visit to the veterinarian for flea and tick medication is in order.
5. Flea Allergy
Maybe your dog doesn’t have a red bump but recently had fleas. They might have had an allergic reaction to being bitten. Dogs can experience an adverse response even if they don’t have a ton of fleas.
The flea saliva can get into your dog and cause itching and discomfort. If your dog is biting the jointed areas of its body or back, flea allergies may be the cause. In that case, it will be even more important to give your dog flea medication.
6. Environmental Allergies
Like people, dogs can be allergic to grass, trees, pollens, molds, and dust. If something in their environment is bothering them, they may lick to soothe their symptoms.
Some environmental allergies that cause a dog to lick the base of its tail include grass and pollen. Grass allergies can be especially problematic if your dog sits in the grass a lot. The grass can irritate the skin on their butt, causing them to lick that area.
7. Food Allergies
Food allergies can be another source of licking. Like environmental allergies, food can cause problems for some dogs. Common food allergies in dogs include beef, wheat, and lamb.
Even if you haven’t changed your dog’s diet, they may react, and some dogs take a couple of years to show symptoms. Talk to your vet to see if you should change your dog’s diet to stop the itching.
8. Contact Dermatitis
Your dog may be allergic to other irritants, such as pesticides, soaps, and shampoos. If that’s the case, you can also expect to see evidence of eye irritation and skin rashes.
Inspect your dog’s entire body to look for signs of contact dermatitis. Then, you can figure out what triggered the reaction and deal with the cause. Hopefully, your dog will be able to stop licking around the base of its tail.
9. Hormone Problems
If you notice hair loss, a dull coat, skin thickening, or a change in pigmentation, hormones may be at fault. Your dog may start to lick to soothe their skin if they have hypothyroidism, diabetes, or Cushing’s disease.
These conditions can throw off your dog’s hormones and cause them to itch. Other signs that hormones are the problem include lethargy and excessive hunger or thirst.
In female dogs, vaginitis may cause your dog to lick both the base of the tail and private parts. Your dog’s vagina may swell, and it can produce fluids similar to mucus.
Bacterial infections, UTIs, and other types of vaginal trauma can cause vaginitis. If you think this may be the case, take your dog to the vet so they can diagnose your dog and get her the treatment she needs.
11. Hot Spot
Even if your dog doesn’t have any symptoms now, they may still lick the base of their tail. If your dog has made a habit of licking that area, it can develop a hot spot.
The skin may look raw, red, and inflamed. Many of the conditions on this list can cause a hot spot to show up, and it can be almost impossible for your dog to stop licking the area.
12. Pain From an Injury
If your dog hurts their tail, it may lick it to soothe the pain. Look out for signs like lethargy and a reduced appetite.
The best approach is to take your dog to the vet to diagnose and treat the issue. If there are no signs of an injury, your dog may have arthritis or another orthopedic condition.
If your dog has nothing to do, it may lick the base of its tail out of boredom. After all, dogs can’t turn on the TV or go on social media to unwind during their downtime.
Boredom may be the case if you can’t find any medical cause. To help keep it entertained, give your dog plenty of toys to play with when you aren’t around. Now, they’ll have something to do besides licking the base of their tail.
Another reason your dog may lick the base of their tail is if they have anxiety. For some dogs, licking can release hormones that make them feel happy.
Your dog may find licking eases their anxiety, making it a habit. Anxiety isn’t fun for anyone, so consider taking your dog to the vet. You can get them some medication to soothe their anxiety and perhaps cut down on the licking.
Is It Normal for Dogs to Lick the Base of Their Tail?
It can be normal for dogs to lick the base of their tail if they don’t do it all of the time. Your dog may lick its tail regularly, and it won’t be a problem.
However, if you see them licking the area multiple times a day or if the licking is affecting their other activities, it’s an issue. A visit to the vet can help you determine the cause and course of treatment.
How Do You Get Your Dog to Stop Licking?
You’ll need to figure out why your dog is licking the base of its tail. If it’s normal grooming, you don’t need to intervene.
When something else is the problem, you’ll have to figure out what it is and likely arrange a trip to the vet. Monitor your dog closely to ensure that the treatment is working.
Can You Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands?
You can express your dog’s anal glands at home, but it’s better to go to the vet. A vet or vet technician will know how to express the anal glands without hurting your dog.
If your dog has been incessantly licking the base of its tail, it’s best to figure out why. Not every reason is a cause for alarm, but it’s important to ensure that there isn’t something serious behind the habit. Finding the cause will be a process, but the result will be a happier and healthier dog.