Your dog is usually a good girl; sure, she can be a little loud in the morning, and she tracks mud on the carpet, but she’s usually the best – except maybe when she licks her privates. The genital licking may seem gross to the average human, but there is a reason for it. You just have to figure out what it is.
Dogs lick their privates for various reasons, and some of them could be causes for concern. For example, if your dog doesn’t typically lick her genital area, she may have a UTI. If there’s a bloody discharge, then she may be in heat – which is a normal process. Your dog could also be grooming.
If you’ve ever been curious why your dog licks her privates or you have a dog that’s been going at it a little much lately, keep reading.
What Could Cause Genital Licking in Female Dogs?
A dog licking her privates is pretty standard behavior. You might find it embarrassing, but dogs do this to groom themselves. Male dogs lick the penis, female dogs lick the vulva, and anal licking is unisex. Your pup can’t use toilet paper like us, so licking is how they keep clean.
There may be other reasons your lady dog is licking “below the belt,” though, and that’s what we’re going to discuss here. Female dogs, in particular, have a few more reasons to lick themselves than male dogs do.
Your dog’s genital licking could be due to a urinary tract infection or her normal heat cycle. UTIs are more common in female dogs, and heat is something only female dogs experience. You can identify reasons for licking with enough knowledge and observation.
Let’s examine these and other reasons for genital licking in female dogs:
Your Dog May Have a UTI
One day, you look over at your dog and see that she’s licking herself somewhere rather personal. If this is uncommon behavior, she might be trying to relieve pain or irritation associated with a urinary tract infection. UTIs are common in canines (especially older female dogs and those with Diabetes Mellitus), and the symptoms include:
- Interrupted housetraining (your previously trained dog suddenly peeing throughout the house)
- Constant attempts to urinate while outside
- Dripping, strong-smelling urine trails
- Strain and difficulty while urinating
- Painful sounding cries when trying to pee
- Constant genital licking
If you suspect your pup of having a UTI, take her to the vet. Your veterinarian will likely run a urinalysis – analysis on the urine for glucose, crystals (possibly indicating kidney stones), ketones, and pH levels. If the vet finds an infection, they will give you either oral or injectable antibiotics to get rid of it.
Your Dog Has Impacted Anal Glands
Technically, your dog isn’t licking her genitals in this instance, but her anus. The anal glands fill with a bad-smelling liquid that empties when dogs have bowel movements. Normally, you won’t even know they’re there. Sometimes, the glands can swell with too much fluid, become foul-smelling, and visibly swollen.
Once the anal glands swell, a dog may lick the area or scoot across the floor to relieve the irritation. A vet can manually excise the liquid to solve the issue. Infections can occur if you leave the problem for too long.
Make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately if your dog is rubbing their rear against the floor and you see swelling near the anus.
Your Dog Is in Heat
If your dog hasn’t been spayed, licks her privates more often, and has bloody discharge from her vulva, she’s likely in heat. Going into heat is a natural occurrence for female dogs and happens one to three times a year. Bleeding could be a severe issue for a spayed dog, however.
Seeing blood from the genitals in spayed dogs could mean infections, tumors, clotting disorders, or an injury of some kind. You won’t know for sure until you take your dog to the vet. If your dog has been spayed and is bleeding from the privates, do not hesitate. Go to the vet quickly.
Your Dog Is Stressed
Dogs can stress lick if they’re feeling on edge. It’s still a good idea, though, to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any physical ailments first. If your pup does turn out to be stress-licking, try setting an exercise regimen or providing more cuddles. Other signs of anxiety are destructive behaviors, whining, and hostility.
Your Dog Has a Skin Infection
Yeast and bacteria on the skin are normal, but there can be too much of a good thing. If there’s too much of either or your dog has immunodeficiency, skin infections may happen. A skin infection usually leads to itching and irritation. Licking is your dog’s way of soothing herself.
Look out for red, pus-filled bumps or dank-smelling, red-black discoloration. These are signs of bacterial and yeast infections, respectively. Your vet will likely give you a mix of topical and oral medications as both types of conditions are easier to get rid of this way.
Your Dog Has Allergies
Allergic skin reactions are another cause of itchy skin. If your dog has developed a rash around her genitals, it could explain the constant licking. The reaction may be from an insect bite, skin disorder, or parasites. A rinse with cool, soapy water may solve the issue.
You need to take your dog to the vet if the rash doesn’t disappear after two days. A good rule is if your dog is licking more often, you might want to go to the vet.
It’s normal for your dog to lick her privates as it’s the only way she can effectively groom herself. If there’s more licking than usual, there could be an issue. If there’s blood from the genital area and you didn’t spay your dog, she’s likely in heat.
If you see swelling near the anus, she likely has impacted anal glands. If there’s no identifiable physical problem, and your dog has displayed destructive behavior, she could be stressed. Think of it this way, if you’re in doubt, see a vet. They can diagnose the issue better than you likely could.
And as always, Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often!
Love you guys,
P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.
This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.
- VCA Hospitals: Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) In Dogs
- VCA Hospitals: Why Dogs Lick Their Privates
- CCSPA: 7 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog
- Cuteness: What Does It Mean If Your Female Dog Keeps Licking Its Privates?
- Wag Walking: Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs
- American Kennel Club: How to Tell If Your Dog Is Stressed
- The Spruce Pets: 7 Signs Your Dog Is in Heat