If you can't make head nor tail of your dog's obsession with his bottom, you know it's time to thoroughly investigate the potential cause. However, we're guessing that many of you don't feel up to the task of taking a magnifying glass to your pup's nether regions! And even if you do, it's always best to have a vet rule out any potentially serious medical problems.
Anal Sac Problems
When Scruffy defecates, normally the two small glands found just inside your dog's rectum secrete a thick, oily secretion. However, a time may come when normal defecation is not enough to empty those sacks. Soon, the anal glands become impacted and uncomfortable. The bottom line is your dog may chase his tail and chew his bottom in an attempt to empty those sacks. Take him to the vet who can express the glands and even show you how to do it in the future.
It doesn't hurt to inspect your pooch's bottom to get some clues on what may be going on. Look for any skin problems that may be causing the itchy affair. If you find a red and weepy sore, suspect a hot spot. Several other skin disorders are known for causing itching and even a small cut can cause your dog to lick and chew at it to get some relief. See your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
In some cases, dogs may feel compelled to lick and nip their bottoms if something is bothering them down there. Sometimes pain caused by an orthopedic problem such as hip dysplasia or back pain may trigger a bout of chewing. Dogs who are docked may develop a painful neuroma and may also develop phantom pains which may cause repeated chewing.
Believe it or not, some tiny, pesky parasites may be at the bottom of your dog's bottom problem. If your dog uses his teeth to chew at the base of the tail, fleas may be a culprit. Don't assume your dog has no fleas just because you don't see them; fleas are excellent camouflagers that tend to go unnoticed. Too add to the yuck factor, consider that if Rufus ingests an infected flea, he may develop tapeworms. These worms then attach to your dog's gut and release segments resembling kernels of rice which may crawl out your dog's butt, causing the itchy fit.
If your dog comes out of the vet clinic with a clean bill of health, Rufus may be dealing with the canine version of an obsessive compulsive disorder. This doesn't necessarily mean your dog needs to see a doggie therapist. Sometimes providing your dog with more exercise and mental stimulation may help keep his mind away from his bum. In more severe cases though, anxiety medication and behavior modification may be necessary.
By Adrienne Farricelli
Web MD: Dogs and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing
Web MD: Tapeworm in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments
Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Anal Sacs
Healthy Pets: Top Two Painful Procedures Your Puppy Should Never Have to Endure
Pet MD: Anxiety and Compulsive Disorders in Dogs
About the Author
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.