If you have a dog, you’ve probably seen it time and time again: Your pooch plops down on the floor, and immediately starts licking their private parts. Not, this can be pretty embarrassing… especially if you have company in your home! But the good news is: This behavior is completely normal for dogs. However, there are a few exceptions when this IS a problem. So before I tell you what to look out for, first it’s important you understand why dogs even do this in the first place.

Why Do They Do It?

dog licking pawsDogs will normally lick themselves as a part of their grooming routine. Your pet might do this after going to the bathroom, in order to “clean up.” This will usually consist of one or two licks.1

Now, all of this is normal canine behavior. However, there are some times when licking is much more than a grooming issue. It could be the sign of a health problem.

Here are a few examples:

Allergies

Now, there are two types of allergies that could be affecting your pup. Food allergies, and seasonal allergies. A food allergy will cause itching throughout the year, while an environmental allergy will usually be seasonal. It could be an allergy to a particular type of plant, or to pollen coming off of a tree.2

If your dog has a seasonal allergy, there are a few things you can do to reduce licking. For example, try walking your pet during the times of the day when there is less pollen in the air, such as early morning or late in the evening. Wipe your pet’s feet and belly before going back inside to get allergens off of their body. This might not completely eliminate all of the pollen, but it will reduce it substantially.3

If the culprit is a food allergy, talk to your vet about changing to a new type of dog food. A hypoallergenic diet could go a long way toward solving the issue.4

Skin Infection

dog licking private parts skin infectionJust like humans, dogs normally have a certain amount of yeast and bacteria on their skin. However, if there are too many of these microbes, or the dog has a weakened immune system, that can lead to an infection. The area around the genitals can become discolored, or emit a foul odor.5 In order to find relief, the dog may constantly lick the skin in the area. Take your dog to the vet to get the problem addressed.

Urinary Tract Infection

When a dog has a urinary tract infection, they may lick the affected area on a regular basis. One of the most common signs of this type of problem is straining to urinate, or urinating more frequently than normal. While this issue is relatively common, it’s also easily treated. Your vet will perform a thorough examination and then let you know the best plan of action.6

The Last Word

Dogs are going to lick their private areas. However, too much licking can be a sign that there’s a larger problem at play… and you should take your pup to the vet. Not only will it take care of your dog’s discomfort, it will also reduce the chances you’ll have to deal with embarrassment when friends or family members stop by.

To learn more about your dog’s behaviors, keep reading here:

3 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Licking The Carpet

Gurgling Stomach in Dogs: What Does It Mean?


Sources
1. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/why-dogs-lick-their-privates
2. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/food-allergies-vs-seasonal-allergies-dogs
3. http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/03/19/pet.allergies.mnn/index.html
4. https://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/food-allergies-101/15131
5. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/pyoderma/overview-of-pyoderma
6. http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/urinary-tract-infections-uti-in-dogs/