Does your dog greet you with a wagging tail and a lick of your hands or face if you let her? Dogs lick as a sign of affection, so take it as a compliment if your dog licks you! But if your dog licks other areas, particularly her privates, it can make things a bit awkward. Plus, you'll think twice about letting your dog lick you when she greets you! Many dogs lick their privates, but if your female dog seems to be taking things a bit too far, there are a few potential causes for her behavior.
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Dogs do lick their genital areas as a standard part of grooming. Usually, this is a pretty quick pass, and your dog won't focus intensely on the area, but it's pretty common for them to groom after urinating. If your dog grooms this area multiple times a day or seems to focus on the area for long periods of time, there may be something else going on.
She’s in heat
Female dogs tend to lick their privates when they go into heat. You may notice a bloody discharge from your dog's vulva, which is normal for an intact (not spayed) dog during her heat cycle. Dogs go into heat one to three times each year. In most cases, your dog's licking should stop once she is out of her heat cycle.
However, if you notice bloody discharge in a dog who is spayed, or in a dog who shouldn't be going into heat, you should take your dog to the vet. This discharge could signify any number of issues, such as a tumor, a traumatic injury, an infection, or even a blood-clotting disorder.
She has a UTI
If a dog who doesn't normally groom her privates starts focusing on them after urinating, she may have a urinary tract infection or UTI. A female dog with a UTI may strain to urinate or need to urinate more frequently, and they sometimes lick themselves excessively after urinating.
If your dog does have a UTI, your vet will prescribe oral or injectable antibiotics to help clear up the infection. To diagnose and decide on the best treatment for your dog's condition, plan on your vet running a urinalysis and possibly some bloodwork.
She has an allergy
Is your dog licking at a rash around her privates? It's possible for this area to develop a rash when it's irritated by allergens or even insects. A rash can also indicate a parasite problem or skin infection. You can try washing your dog's rash with cool water and a gentle soap, but if the rash lasts for more than a couple of days, you'll need to take your dog to the vet to be checked out.
She has impacted anal glands
A female dog licking at her privates may be reacting to the irritation caused by impacted anal glands. If your dog's anal glands become impacted, they can get swollen and emit a strong smell. In an attempt to relieve her discomfort, your dog may lick at them excessively or scoot her rear end across the floor.
If your dog's anal glands are impacted, your vet can manually express them, which will relieve the pressure and discomfort. Letting the issue go too long can result in an infection.
Generally speaking, if you think your dog is licking at her privates too much, it's a good idea to call your vet. Your vet can investigate the issue more and determine if there's a cause that needs treatment.
Your dog's behavior of licking her privates may be caused by stress. If your dog is anxious, licking herself may be a way to cope with her nerves. Before deciding that your dog's licking is behavior-based, take her to the vet for an evaluation to make sure there isn't another cause.
If your vet determines that your dog's licking is caused by anxiety, you can use many different products to help calm your dog. These can be anything from calming treats to thunder shirts and pheromone collars.
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.