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My Dog Keeps Licking Her Private Area - All Possible Reasons

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 12, 2020
My Dog Keeps Licking Her Private Area - All Possible Reasons

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Is your female dog licking her private area constantly? If this is the case you may want to know if it is normal behavior or not. In this AnimalWised article we explain all the possible reasons why a female dog may be licking her genital area. We will also tell you what to do in each case.

There are several causes that can lead a female dog to lick her vulva, some of which are a normal and natural part of dog behavior. Others indicate the presence of a problem or disease. Keep reading to find out why your dog keeps licking her private area, as well as what to do in this situation.

You may also be interested in: My Dog Has a Bump on Her Private Area

Reasons why female dogs lick their private areas

The first thing we need to know is that it is normal for a dog to lick her privates under many circumstances. Dogs are self-grooming and will lick and bite any part of their body they think needs to be cleaned. There are some circumstances were licking their genitals may be a sign of a problem. Whether normal or abnormal, a dog will lick her privates due to:

  • Pleasure
  • Stress and hormones
  • Infection
  • Vaginitis

We look at all the possible reasons for a dog licking her private area in more detail in the sections below. Licking their privates is not the only reason they may lick. Check out our article on why my dog keeps licking me to find out more.

Pleasure

A female dog or bitch usually reaches sexual maturity between six months and one year of age. Sexual maturity comes with the arrival of their first heat. From this moment onward you may begin to notice new behaviors in your dog, such as humping stuffed animals, blankets or other dogs and intense licking of her private parts. This behavior is normal and part of canine nature, but why? The answer is simple: to masturbate and give themselves pleasure. Female dogs also lick their privates more often each time they are in heat, as we will explain later.

Like women, bitches have a clitoris inside of their vulva, an organ whose sole function is to give pleasure. Being located inside the vagina, we rarely see it, but in some dogs it is visible as a round and reddish bump. If you see this, you shouldn't worry. You should only be alarmed if practically the whole clitoris of is protruding through the vulva or if you notice an unusual lump on the dog's vulva. In addition, if your dog’s vagina is swollen, irritated or presents abnormalities we suggest consulting a specialist as soon as possible.

Therefore, once a dog has experienced the pleasure of licking her vagina, which can be at any point in her life, it is completely normal to see her licking it often. This licking might last for a few seconds or minutes with intensity and your female dog might also emit a kind of moaning sound. However, if this action becomes habitual or compulsive, we recommend consulting a professional.

My Dog Keeps Licking Her Private Area - All Possible Reasons - Pleasure

Stress and hormones

In relation to the previous point, if we observe a female dog licking her genital area extensively and does it compulsively, it may be an indicator of stress. When a dog is stressed, they try to release tension through behaviors that, in many cases, can be misdiagnosed. In the case of female dogs, one of the ways to relieve tension, stress or anxiety is by licking the vagina. Thus, it is essential to identify what is causing your dog stress to both avoid and solve the problem. If not enough attention is given and the dog's stress is not treated, this habit may become a stereotypy - persistent abnormal behavior - making it more difficult to treat[1].

Another reason that may explain why your dog is licking her vagina with great intensity is hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalances in dogs can also cause the development of stress, resulting in the aforementioned consequences. This happens in bitches that have not yet been sterilized. Therefore, if you suspect that your dog may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance, you will have to go to the vet to evaluate the option of having surgery.

Infection

If your female dog licks her private area a lot and is also experiencing whitish or slightly yellowish vaginal discharge she may be suffering a serious health problem. In such cases you should consult the vet immediately. The most common diseases and conditions cause excessive vaginal licking along with abnormal discharge are:

  • Pyometra (infection of the uterus)[2]
  • Matrix infection
  • Ovarian infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Wounds in the vagina and/or cervix

However, these are not the only diseases that can cause pus secretion from the vulva. In fact, almost any infection of a bitch's lower reproductive apparatus can present this symptom. The exact type of infection needs to be diagnosed and treated by a professional, so it is best to consult your vet at once.

Pyometra is both a relatively common and potentially life threatening disease which affects the canine uterus. For this and other reasons, it is common to sterilize the dog. In fact, most of the possible reasons why a dog licks her privates can be address through ovariohysterectomy. Our article on whether a spayed dog can get pyometra can help you learn more.

Vaginitis

If you notice that the bitch's vulva is swollen (vaginitis), this generally indicates she is on her estrus period. From the first stage of her period, the dog's vulva increases in size and you will see initial bleeding, which causes her to lick her genital area constantly. If you notice this behavior while the dog is on her heat period, you can be sure that this is the reason for both the licking and inflammation of her vagina.

However, if your dog is not presenting typical heat symptoms, but presents with vaginitis and licks her vagina constantly, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Increased urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Crying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood changes

These symptoms indicate that she may be suffering from a urinary tract infection or canine cystitis. Such diseases, along with vaginal tumors, ovarian cysts or other pathologies, can only be diagnosed by a specialist. Therefore, if you suspect that any of these may be the reason for your dog licking her private area, do not hesitate to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

My Dog Keeps Licking Her Private Area - All Possible Reasons - Vaginitis

What to do if my dog keeps licking her private area?

Now that you know all the possible reasons why a dog will lick her private area, we need to know what to do about it. Depending on the causes which are making your female dog lick her private area, treatment will differ. If it is a case of masturbation, there is no need for treatment, as this is an instinctual action for female dogs. However, if you observe that this licking behavior is becoming compulsive, consult a professional.

If the reason your female dog licking her vagina is due to stress or anxiety, you need to find out the root cause of her stress to eradicate it. If you can successfully do so, the licking behavior should slowly subside. If it does not, consult the vet on how to proceed.

If you believe that your dog is licking her private area due to hormonal imbalances or health problems, we suggest you consult your veterinarian immediately. The vet will be able to diagnose the exact cause of your dog's behavior and prescribe the best treatment for the problem.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Keeps Licking Her Private Area - All Possible Reasons, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

References
  1. Luescher, U. A., McKeown, D. B., and Halip, J. (1991). Stereotypic or obsessive-complusive disorders in dog and cats. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 21(2), 401-413.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195561691500413
  2. Gibson, A., et al. (2013). A retrospective study of pyometra at five RSPCA hospitals in the UK: 1728 cases from 2006 to 2011. Veterinary Record, 173(16), 396.
    https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/173/16/396

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10 comments
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sandra k. sweeney
my dog is licking her private area and blood is coming out. She is drinking a lot of water and vomiting
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Sandra,

Please take your dog to a veterinarian to diagnose this problem. It is likely a serious and life threatening issue given the symptoms.
Rating:
Dawn edwards
My dog has a small bump on her vulva. She is sitting all the time and doesn’t want to get up. Licking constantly. Looks red from licking. Otherwise alert and has appetite
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Dawn,

If your dog has a bump on her vulva, you might find this article useful:
https://www.animalwised.com/my-dog-has-a-bump-on-her-private-area-3345.html

We cannot diagnose her from here, so if you are worried it is best to consult a vet. Good luck!
Azul Ruiz
My male bullmasive is an ok see dog , and he constantly looks at his but, and starts licking it. I say about every 20 min bot so.
Pam
Had my fur baby spayed about 6 mos ago,all went well! Dixie, 5 yr old Maltese, prior to surgery Never Licked her private area (even tho its common and normal to a degree, she just DID NOT DO IT) unless going into heat and/or during heat. Well, ever since being spayed, she compulsively licks herself!! Total change in this behavior! Help!
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Pam,

We cannot diagnose your animal, only a vet can do this. Have you considered the possibilities mentioned in the article? Are there any which might seem feasible in your dog's situation? It is designed to give you an idea, but if you are worried there is a serious problem, then the vet is the answer.
Rating:
Brianna
My 8 month old Shi tzu has been licking her privates for about a week now and it's pretty swollen but no pus. Her eyes however, are releasing an amount of mucus, don't know if its related. Unsure of whether it's just her first heat period or infection of some sort.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Brianna,

Shih Tzu dogs are particularly prone to eye infections. If they have pus coming from their eyes, this is what is likely the problem. However, we cannot give an accurate diagnosis, only a veterinary health professional can do this. They are also the only ones who can prescribe the right medication (likely antibiotics). The licking of her privates may or may not be related, but if one infection exists, it is possible for it to spread. Please take your dog to a vet if you want them treated.
Shirley Jean
Our 9 month old golden mountain berniedoodle has been licking her private area lots in the past few day and she has been spaded in April
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Shirely,

This is not uncommon for a dog to be licking after being spayed (some dogs will also lick more out of personal preference). However, if you feel there may be an underlying health concern, please seek a vet for advice as only they will be able to run the appropriate tests or achieve the right diagnosis.
Victoria
My German shepherd is about to start her 3rd heat this month and she keeps licking but no blood or swelling. Does this mean she about to start or something
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Victoria,

We are unsure of your question. You said she is about to start her 3rd heat period and then asked is she about to start. Do you mean is it imminent? If so, it is certainly possible as it is common for dogs to lick this area due to the swelling caused by heat. However, it is important to look to see if any of the other symptoms present in case there are any other possible reasons. Check with the points in the article and, as always, visit a vet if you are unsure.
Malea Mcknight
My 7yr. Old chihuahua is always licking her private area and has a little bit of an oder, also if I try to pick her up she yelps like it hurts, she also walks kind of funny with her back sort of hunched but her butt seems to be tucked down, should this be a concern because I'm a little worried ,please help
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Malea

If your dog is in pain we suggest visiting your veterinarian as soon as possible to find out what is the problem and treat it accordingly!

Regards

AnimalWised
M.E. Dillon
Her anal sac may be full and needs to be expressed. If this is the case and it is not soon done it could lead to an abcess which will require surgery. My Chihuahua has already gone through this. We now have her anal sac checked and expressed every couple of months. Very important.
Maria Joseph
My 4 year old chiwawa is in her estrus period. She is not eating as much. Is this normal? She just smells her food then walk away. Then later on she will eventually comes back later and eat. Please advice. Thank you
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Maria

It is completely normal for a dog in heat to experience either an increase or decrease in appetite. If for whatever reason you believe it is a problem, we recommend taking her to the vet.

Regards

AnimalWised
Eileen Caraccia
My Maltese she is nine years old and has been spaded she keeps licking her private part and I had a urine test done and it came back fine what could be the problem and how can I stop at during turn around put them on the back turn her around
Alice Tapiol Breeze (AnimalWised editor)
Hi Eileen,
How long ago was she spayed? Have you made sure there is no pus or the vulva is swollen? There are other reasons apart from a urinary infection that may be causing your dog to lick her private area, so you should ask the vet for a closer look at her so you can determine the cause.

Hope this helps and best wishes.

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