What Does It Mean if Your Female Dog Keeps Licking Its Privates?

Dogs often enjoy licking things, and if you're lucky, you're familiar with the concept of sloppy and sweet canine kisses. If you notice that your female dog excessively keeps licking her genital area, however, it's definitely time to sit up and pay attention. In canines, this licking behavior can indicate anything from the heat cycle to vaginitis.

close-up of a dog
Many dogs start going into heat beginning at 6 months in age.
credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images


If a female dog is unfixed, then heat cycles are an inevitable part of life. In most cases, dogs enter into heat every six months, although it always depends on factors such as breed. At the beginning of the canine heat cycle, licking of the privates is common. This action often arises because of the vulva swelling. By licking the vulva, dogs can attempt to manage the unpleasant feeling. Yellow genital discharge often appears, and occasionally even consists of small amounts of blood. Dogs who are spayed do not go into heat, and therefore do not partake in this type of genital licking. Other common indications of heat are anxious behavior, vigilance and lack of attention span and concentration.


Licking of the privates also can signify urinary issues, namely incontinence and urinary tract infection. If your precious pooch has difficulties in handling her bladder, it could lead to leakage -- and therefore immoderate licking because of the disturbance to the skin. These conditions can also cause male dogs to lick their genitals a lot, as well.


In female dogs, vaginitis is another common cause for private licking behaviors. The condition, which entails inflammation of the female genitals, is particularly prevalent in puppies who have not yet reached reproductive maturity. However, it also routinely affects adult canines. Bacterial infection often triggers vaginitis. Apart from noticeable private licking, discharge is a typical symptom of the condition, as is inordinate urination.


Excessive licking in dogs of both genders can also signify compulsion -- a seemingly uncontrollable need to do something that has no clear point. Whether your female dog licks her privates, paws or any other body part, the habit could be a coping mechanism and effect of stress in her life. The possible culprits behind compulsive actions run the gamut, from inadequate interaction with other people and animals to past mistreatment. The only way to know for sure what is causing your adorable pet to lick her privates so much is by setting up an appointment with the veterinarian -- immediately. Don't wait around for even a second.