Why Your Dog is Licking Their Back Near the Tail


A dog who spends a lot of time licking near the base of his tail is often suffering from anal gland issues, allergies, or both. Allergies, especially a food allergy, can cause inflammation of the anal glands, which is irritating to the dog.

Other potential causes of a dog licking the base of the tail include fleas in the area, hot spots, perianal fistulas, and perianal tumors. If your dog is licking back there a lot, take a good look at the general area yourself.

The dog’s licking implies something is uncomfortable. The sooner you get a veterinary diagnosis and appropriate treatment the sooner your best friend and companion is feeling better and can get back to living his best life.

Anal Gland Inflammation

The anal glands are two natural scent glands that sit at approximately 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock, if the anus was a clock face. Each time the dog has a bowel movement, a little of the anal gland secretions are squeezed out, keeping the glands from uncomfortably overfilling. Some dogs, depending on how the gland and its opening are anatomically situated, are unable to achieve this natural anal gland expression.

These dogs will either scoot on their behinds or lick obsessively at the area to try and relieve the uncomfortable pressure. For these dogs, routine manual anal gland expression is usually recommended to keep them comfortable. In addition to overfilling, anal glands can become inflamed, impacted, or infected.

For these dogs, working with your veterinarian is critical to getting the problem diagnosed and controlled. Additionally, your dog may need to have his inflamed anal glands flushed and an anti-inflammatory ointment infused into the gland. Impacted anal glands require manual expression by your veterinarian. Infected anal glands are usually treated with a flush, oral antibiotics, oral anti-inflammatory medications, and warm water soaks or sitz baths to encourage draining.

Allergies and Inflammation

Dogs with allergies lick and scratch a lot, sometimes all over, sometimes only in certain areas, such as around the base of the tail. If your dog is licking or chewing a lot back near the tail, the first thing to do is check for fleas, and if he is not on an effective flea control product, get him on one. Itching, licking, and chewing in the rump area, where the tail is, is frequently due to flea allergy dermatitis (FAD).

Licking under the base of tail and around the sides is often associated with food allergy. Your veterinarian will likely recommend a special diet trial to see if the urge to lick goes away while on a hypoallergenic food. If it does, keeping your dog on that food should resolve the licking.