Have you noticed that your four-legged friend licks his genital area a lot? Don't worry, at first it's completely normal for dogs to groom themselves - yes, even there. But if grooming becomes an obsession, then there could be more to it. I'll tell you what the causes could be and how you can help your dog.
Possible causes of intense licking in the intimate area of dogs
- Hygiene: Dogs are naturally clean animals and licking is part of their personal hygiene. So a little licking is nothing to worry about.
- Medical problems: Infections, inflammation or skin problems can cause itching and discomfort, which your dog will try to relieve by licking the affected area.
- Parasites: Fleas, ticks or mites are uncomfortable and can cause itching in the genital area.
- Allergies: Yes, dogs can also have allergic reactions to food or environmental substances. Frequent licking can be an indication of this.
- Behavioral problems: Boredom, anxiety or stress can lead to compulsive licking.
- Pain: If there is pain in the hips or lower back, dogs sometimes try to relieve it by licking.
- Sexual behavior: Especially in non-neutered dogs, licking can also be a part of normal sexual behavior.
Differences between male and female dogs
In male dogs, licking is often associated with their sex drive. Male dogs that are not neutered are more likely to exhibit such behavior, especially when they detect the scent of a female dog in heat. It can also be a marking behavior, but less through the licking itself than through the subsequent urination.
Female dogs lick for similar reasons to males, but there may be additional factors. Being in heat and the associated increased blood flow and secretions can lead to more licking. Bitches also lick more after giving birth to keep the genital area clean.
Finally, it can also indicate incontinence in both sexes, especially in older dogs. They lick themselves to remove unintentional traces of urine or secretions.
Deepening the possibilities for help
If you notice that your dog is licking himself excessively often, this may be a sign that something is wrong. Here are a few tips on how you can take a more thorough approach:
Visit the vet
A visit to the vet should always be your first port of call when it comes to your dog's health. Explain to the vet exactly what you have observed: How often does the dog lick itself, have there been any changes in behavior, is there a change in urination or feces? The vet can carry out a thorough examination, take samples and determine whether there is an infection, skin disease or other medical problems. If necessary, the vet will initiate treatment, which can range from medication to special cleanings or ointments.
Parasites are not only a nuisance, they can also cause serious health problems. Regular preventative treatments are therefore not a luxury, but a necessity. These include flea and tick products, which are available either as spot-on preparations, tablets or collars. Talk to your vet about the best course of action, as not every product is suitable for every dog. Regular worming is also important, as some types of worms can also cause itching in the anal area.
Check for allergies
Allergies can manifest themselves through itchy skin, digestive problems or general discomfort. If you suspect that your dog may have an allergy, an allergy test should be carried out. This can be done via blood tests or special elimination diets, where the diet is gradually adjusted to identify the allergy trigger. Together with your vet, you can then plan a hypoallergenic diet or adjust your dog's environment to minimize allergens.
A busy dog is a happy dog. Mental and physical activity is essential to prevent boredom and stress-related behavior. This can range from daily walks and play sessions to training sessions. Also think about dog sports or interactive games that challenge and encourage your dog. Intelligence toys that get your dog thinking are also a good way to keep him busy.
If you notice your dog starting to lick himself, gently distract him. Show him his favorite toy or give him a chew bone to help redirect his attention. It is important that this distraction is not perceived as a reward for licking, but as part of normal play and activity. This way your dog can learn that there are more enjoyable and rewarding activities than constant licking.
Remember, licking is not always a cause for concern. But if it gets out of hand, these are the steps you can take to help your faithful companion. It's important to be patient and consistent and adjust strategies until you find what works best for your dog.