What Does It Mean When a Dog Sits & Licks Its Buttocks?

An irritated behind makes Rover uncomfortable.
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When your pooch sits and licks at his buttocks, it means that the area is either itchy or painful to him. There are many possible causes for irritation of the anal area in your canine companion, all of which require a visit to the veterinarian for treatment of Rover's discomfort.

Anal Gland Issues

One of the main reasons a dog licks at his buttocks is that his anal glands have become impacted or infected. Rover may also scoot along the ground to help scratch the area because of the itching caused by the impacted glands. A dog's anal glands normally expel a smelly fluid when he defecates. If this doesn't happen, the glands can become swollen and impacted, possibly leading to a bacterial infection or even an abscess. Your vet must expel the fluid from the glands manually and prescribe medications to treat any infections present.

Intestinal Parasites

When a dog licks at his anal area, it could mean that he's suffering from an infestation of intestinal parasites. Internal parasites like roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms and hookworms live inside your pup's intestines, leading to anal irritation, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia and nutritional deficiencies. You may even find the parasitic worms themselves and their segments in your pooch's stool or around the anus. Your vet will take a fecal sample to test for worms and prescribe a medication to give him that will completely eliminate them.

External Parasites and Allergies

Fleas, ticks and mites can all cause a dog’s rear area to itch. Topical flea treatments eliminate fleas and other types of parasites from your dog's coat and continue to protect him from these pests, usually for up to a month. If parasites aren't to blame, both contact allergies and food allergies can result in dermatitis of your dog's anal area. Your vet can determine what is causing itching by prescribing a hypoallergenic diet or frequent bathing for Rover to eliminate potential allergens. She may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or creams to help alleviate the itching caused by allergies.

Skin Infections

Bacterial or fungal infections of the skin can occur in the anal area, especially if the skin was broken in some way. The area is especially prone to infection because of the presence of fecal matter after your pup defecates. Unfortunately, by licking the area excessively to soothe the pain and itching, the skin becomes more irritated and these infections can become worse. Your vet can take a skin scraping of the area to determine if any harmful microorganisms are present. Antibiotics or anti-fungal drugs and creams can help rid your pooch of these infections.


Your pooch may occasionally lick his backside to groom himself, but excessive or persistent licking of this area isn't normal and requires a veterinary diagnosis. You might need to put an Elizabethan collar on your pooch to protect the area he's licking, if it's irritated or infected, until it heals. Sometimes Rover's excessive licking of his backside might indicate an issue with anxiety if no medical cause is determined. Consult with your vet about administering psychoactive medication to your pup, which may help reduce his anxiety.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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