Reproductive system diseases

My Dog Keeps Licking His Butt and It Smells

Anaëlle Laurent
By Anaëlle Laurent. Updated: March 21, 2024
My Dog Keeps Licking His Butt and It Smells

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Dogs have all sorts of strange behaviour, such as sniffing each other's butt to greet and learn more about another dog. However, if our dog keeps licking their own butt, it can be a sign that something is wrong. More so if they are releasing smelly odors.

In this AnimalWised article, we're going to explain why your dog keeps licking their smelly butt and what you can do about it.

You may also be interested in: My Cat Keeps Licking Her Private Area
  1. Why your dog has a smelly butt
  2. Why dogs lick their butt
  3. Impacted anal glands
  4. Infected anal glands
  5. What you can do to help

Why your dog has a smelly butt

Your dog has a smelly “fish” smell because of the secretion coming out of their anal glands. This is often associated with impacted and infected anal glands as it is one of the symptoms of these health issues. Continue reading to learn more about these two gland problems.

Why dogs lick their butt

Dogs commonly lick their butt to groom themselves. However, if your dog is excessively licking their butt, it is most likely to impacted anal glands or infected anal glands. This is caused by inflammation of the ducts, that make the sacs swollen and distended, making it very painful for your dog to pass feces.

In normal situations, the bacteria are flushed out when the secretions are expelled during a bowel movement. However, if the anal glands are impacted, the fluid does not empty normally and they become infected. This leads to the dog experiencing pain when trying to defecate and having pus or blood come out of their anus.

Some dogs can experience reoccurring impacted or infected anal glands, however, it is not normal. Those prone to this health issue are overweight dogs. The treatment consists of expressing your dog's anal glands (which we will explain down below), as well as the use of antibiotics and pain killers.

In extreme cases, where the anal glands are heavily infected, your veterinarian will conclude that they will need to surgically remove your dog's anal glands. This is a safe operation that shouldn't affect your pet's capacity to control their bowel movements. Some dogs experience loose stools or lack of bowel control after the surgery. Nevertheless, after one to three weeks after the surgery, they gain the control back.

Lastly, older dogs can develop cancer of the glands within the anal sacs called adenocarinoma.

My Dog Keeps Licking His Butt and It Smells - Why dogs lick their butt

Impacted anal glands

Impacted anal glands is when the secretions stored within the glands aren't able to be expressed. Impaction is uncomfortable and increases the chances of infection. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive licking and chewing anus.
  • Fish and faeces smell.
  • Scooting and dragging butt.
  • Pain defecating.
  • Discharge left on the floor.
  • Reluctance to have their hind end touched.
  • Diarrhea or other digestive issues.

Infected anal glands

Also known as anal sac diseases, this is when the anal glands become infected. This can be extremely painful for dogs. If an infection has developed, symptoms may also include:

  • Red spots in discharge on floor.
  • Pus visible in discharge on floor.
  • Pus coming out of their anus.
  • Swollen area near anus.
  • Hole near anus with bloody or pus discharge.
  • Pain in their hind end.

Learn more in our article about impacted and infected anal glands in dogs.

What you can do to help

Take your dog to the veterinarian

First, you will need to take your dog to the veterinarian to be properly examined and diagnosed. This way, your veterinarian will be able to tell you with certainty what the issue is and the best treatment for your dog.

If your dog has an impacted anal gland, your veterinarian will express your dog's anal glands and perhaps give them pain killers or antibiotics. However, if you do not get it treated in time, they may develop an infection. This infection will also be treated through expressing your dog's anal glands and treating it with antibiotics and/or pain killers. However, in serious cases, dogs will need to have their anal glands surgically removed.

Express your dog's anal glands

Normally, a veterinarian will express their patient's anal glands. However, some dog companions prefer to learn how to do it themselves to save time and money. When you take your dog to the veterinarian to get properly diagnosed and treated, you can have them do it or they can teach you how to do it at home.

To express your dog's anal glands, follow these instructions and watch the video below where a veterinarian will also explain how to do it at home.

  1. Wear latex gloves and have a warm cloth nearby.
  2. Find their anal glands at 4 and 8 o'clock when looking at their anus.
  3. Apply firm but gentle pressure to the glands under the skin. Do this while moving upwards and back towards the anus.
  4. Use the cloth by placing it over the anus while you apply pressure in order to avoid their discharge from squirting everywhere.
  5. Wipe them clean with another cloth and give them a small treat.

If your dog continues to have this issue, speak to your veterinarian as there could be more to their issue. Here we leave a video where a veterinarian teaches you how to safely express your dog's anal glands at home. As a warning, this video is graphic.

Change your dog's diet

Other than expressing your dog's anal glands and taking them to the veterinarian, you can also change your dog's diet to help them secrete whatever is stored in their anal glands. Their new diet should be highly digestible, full of fibre, high quality and have limited ingredients.

In fact, you can find dog food specifically formulated for dogs with impacted anal glands online or at local pet shops. Ask your veterinarian for more information about a new diet.

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 His Butt and It Smells, we recommend you visit our Reproductive system diseases category.

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My Dog Keeps Licking His Butt and It Smells