Why Do Dogs Lick Their Butts?

Although our dogs are love, light, and everything good, sometimes they engage in rather disgusting behaviors. Rolling on dead things, snarfing down “mudpies,” and licking their butts are a few actions everyone could do without. And why do dogs lick their butts anyway? The main reason might seem obvious, but it’s not always that cut and dry.

Why do dogs lick their butts? In between baths, dogs keep their entire bodies clean with their tongue, butt included. If the butt licking seems excessive, then licking could point to a medical problem, like parasites, infections, or swollen anal glands.

How can you tell between simple grooming activities and signs of a medical problem? If you’re ever in doubt, then a vet visit is in order. But you can also get more insights from this helpful article. We’ll go over all the signs and symptoms of problems that have butt licking as a red flag.

Why Should You Listen To Me?

When my Border Collie Bandit was a puppy, he had a rather nasty case of worms. Although he got his full course of dewormer, these internal parasites were not going away fast, but I didn’t know it at that time.

At first glance, he seemed rather fastidious in the grooming department, especially when it came to his hind end. Unfortunately, I missed that red flag, resulting in a rather distressing sight during the daily poop sweep.

Upon taking him into the vet, I got the full rundown on how his incessant butt licking was my first sign of an issue. Since then, I have dedicated a good part of my free time to learning all I can to avoid that disturbing scenario in the future. With that move, I now have a lovely knowledge base on all the reasons dogs lick their butts — and I’m here to share it all with you.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Butts?

Basic grooming

Although they are not as meticulous as cats, dogs also like to keep themselves clean. They will use their tongue and teeth to clean between their paw pads, wash their nether regions, and tidy up everything in between.

Some dogs will even clean each other’s ears during their daily grooming routine.

From beginning to end, the grooming process shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, especially if your dogs are as busy as mine are.

And when it comes to the hind end, they should be done with all that within a few minutes tops. If their licking seems to go on and on, then you might be looking at something that goes beyond grooming.

Finish toileting

Although not all dogs care this much, some will clean their butts after going potty.

They may even have a full routine, going from their favorite potty spot to their cleaning area without missing a beat.

These dogs would love the ability to use a bit of toilet paper instead, but they have to work with what they’ve got. If you notice your dog makes a regular habit of this but doesn’t spend too much time cleaning up, it’s likely a regular part of their day.

My Dog Keeps Licking Her Butt Excessively, Why?

Although grooming is the most common reason dogs lick their butts, this task doesn’t take them that long. If they lick their butts for longer or with more frequency, perhaps the problem is a medical one like parasites, infections, or swollen anal glands.

Internal parasites

Dogs are prone to developing internal parasites at any point in their lives.

Dogs have to ingest a few eggs from their surrounding environment, and the parasite party starts in earnest. For the dogs, however, it’s anything but a joyous affair. For starters, parasites often make their butts itch, leading to constant licking.

Beyond that, these critters can cause:

  • Stomach aches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

In the early stages, internal parasites do not show any signs, which is why it’s important to give your dog a preventative worming medication.

For best results, use one that protects against hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Our recommendations below target these 4 types of worms. You need to know your dog’s weight before administering a dose of the medications below.

BrandTypeMinimum ageCheck latest price on Amazon.com
Excel Safe Guard (for small, medium and large dogs)Powdered granules that mix into wet food6 weeks of age. Includes pregnant dogs.Check price 
Panacur C  (for small, medium and large dogs)Powdered granules that mix into wet food6 weeks of age. Includes pregnant dogs.Check price
Bayer Quad dewormer (small dogs only)Chewable tablet (beef flavoured)4 weeks of age. Check price

If you’re not sure which worming solution to buy or want a professional touch, ask your vet for recommendations. I find it’s cheaper buying the medication online rather than from the vet.

Skin infections

Whether caused by bacteria or yeast, skin infections in dogs are often rather itchy.

If the infected area is near their bum, they will engage in butt licking to relieve their discomfort.

In addition to licking the area, they may nibble at their skin, often causing the infection to worsen.

If you take a peek, you’ll likely see the area looks red and inflamed.

Once they start, skin infections do not usually go away on their own.

You will need to get your veterinarian involved to confirm the cause and get the right treatments started. In most cases, your dog may need to wear an Elizabethan or e-collar around its neck to keep them from bothering the area while it heals.

In addition to an e-collar, you may need to clean the area with medicated wipes plus apply topical creams on the advised schedule.

Urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infections are outright painful and often cause intense itching all around the genitals.

Your dog may find some relief by licking or nibbling at that area right after urinating and throughout the day.

You might also notice that they have to pee more often and can barely seem to hold it long enough to make it outside.

If any of those symptoms come up, it’s important to get vet care right away. Otherwise, the infection could damage the bladder or even spread to the kidneys.

Depending on the vet’s findings, you may need to give your dog oral antibiotics several times a day and even switch their food to a different formula.

Swollen anal glands

Out of all the medical answers as to why do dogs lick their butts, swollen anal glands is the most common one. The glands at either side of their rectum fill up with stinky fluid that should empty when they poop. Unfortunately, that does not always happen as intended, causing the glands to swell up and hurt.

Your dog may start to scoot around on the floor in an effort to clear them out and lick the area whenever they can. You may notice a strong, noxious odor as the glands release the fluid, causing everyone nearby to run for the hills.

You can take your dog to the vet to have these glands emptied.

Don’t wait too long to see a vet, or they could get infected. Then, you’ll need to give your dog antibiotics, pain medication, and warm compresses to help them recover.

When Should You Be Concerned?

In the end, your dog’s butt licking should be brief and intermittent, or it could point to a medical issue.

If they engage in the licking more often than usual or it occurs alongside other strange symptoms, then it’s time to scoot off to the vet. And of course, if you’re ever in doubt, get to the vet for a quick checkup.

As the vet knows about your dog’s symptoms, they can use that info to perform an examination and tests to see if something is awry. Catching the problem early makes it easier to treat and reduces the time your dog spends in distress.

I can tell you that Bandit was relieved to have those worms dispatched with the quickness once the vet got involved. After that occurred, I committed to learning all the reasons dogs lick their butts, so I could intervene sooner and keep all my dogs comfortable.

Now, if I have the slightest question about a new behavior, off to the vet we go, to get some answers and ensure my pups are healthy.

How to Remedy Your Dog’s Excessive Licking

If your dog is licking for a medical reason and needs to stop so it can heal, you can have them fitted with an Elizabethan or e-collar (also known as a dog cone).

There are several different e-collar designs on the market, that block them from getting to their nether regions while healing.

  • Rigid e-collar. This is shaped like a lampshade with stiff (and clear) plastic sides. When my dogs wear these e-collars, they tend to bump into things because the bottom of the cone is wide and rigid. This design is usually the cheapest and is often provided by vets.
  • Flexible e-collar. This version is still shaped like a lampshade, but it has a soft side. This is the design that my dogs prefer. It’s soft and comfortable to sleep on.
  • Donut-shaped e-collar. These are inflatable. My dogs found this design more comfortable than the rigid design.
Example of an e-collar with a rigid design

Here are our recommendations on which e-collars to buy.

Latest price on Amazon
Flexible e-collarComfy Cone e-collarCheck price
Inflatable donut-shaped e-collarKong Cloud e-collarCheck price
Rigid e-collarRemedy and Recovery dog e-collarCheck price

You may need to use wipes to help your pup stay clean in the meantime, but it’s well worth the effort in assisting them to get healthy.


When the licking is a natural part of your dog’s daily grooming routine, let them do it.

If the sound bothers you, it’s okay to send them to their beds for a bit to take care of business out of earshot. Make sure to follow through with a treat or praise to reinforce their good behavior.

With your dog by your side, you’ll get used to their regular routine, butt licking included.

Watch for any changes to their typical behavior to see if they might need a trip to the vet.

You can always schedule an appointment if you’re unsure. Veterinarians have heard it all and are happy to help figure it all out.

Author - Marie

With 2 Border Collies (Nyx and Bandit) and a Red Heeler (Ruby). With no livestock, Marie spends most of her time outdoors with her dogs, letting them release all their energy as farm dogs. They are fiends for fetch - even in the snow. Marie has started formal flyball training with Nyx, with the other dog likely follow. Marie is also interested in joining dock diving, sheep herding, and agility activities so that her dogs can burn more energy. All three are adept trick dogs with the ability to wave, shake hands, roll over, sit pretty, walk like people and much more. She has much to share with this community of outdoor dog lovers.

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