Dog Licking Base of Tail

dog licking base of his tail

If you’re a new dog owner, you’ll likely notice your puppy licks their body, including the base of its tail. In most cases, this is considered normal grooming behavior.

However, there are some instances where excessive licking or biting, especially around the base of the tail, can be a cause for concern.

When you notice this habit becomes more frequent, causing agitation or discomfort in your pet, this could be a symptom of something more serious, such as an infestation, infection, or skin condition, among other reasons. The following conditions are the most underlying causes for licking the base of its tail.

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Common Grooming Behavior

The most likely cause for your dog’s behavior is due to grooming. It is common for some dogs, including puppies, to lick the base of their tails during this process, though this tends to occur occasionally instead of excessively.

If you notice your pup performing this activity once or twice during their grooming routine, there should be no concern.

However, if this behavior becomes persistent, accompanied by tail biting, your pup may be cleaning an infected or injured area so that it heals properly.

You must monitor and contact your veterinarian for recommendations if you notice a wound or infection. Dogs also clean this area when they groom to maintain a healthy coat, and it’s a vital part of their routine.

Your Dog Needs Their Anal Sac Expressed

Dogs need to express their anal sacs or anal glands, which are often used to mark territory or may occur when your dog feels anxious or stressed.

During this process, your pup will emit a strong odor, though in some cases, your pet may have difficulty expressing the anal sacs and may need the assistance of a veterinarian.

Your vet can also determine if any health or medical conditions are causing this problem and advise treatment. In many cases, pet owners can perform this technique for their dog by following instructions from a veterinarian. If you suspect your pet has a serious anal gland problem, it’s important to visit your vet as soon as possible.

Fleas, Tapeworms, or Parasites

Excessive licking and biting can signify a parasitic infection, resulting in flea bites, rashes, and skin irritation.

You may notice small, red bumps or an inflamed area around the base of the tail, which appears even after the fleas are gone, or parasitic infection has been successfully treated. The anal area of your pet may also become irritated if there is flea dirt or residue from a prior infestation.

If your dog only gets fleas occasionally, which results in significant rash or skin irritation, your pet might have a flea allergy. Biting and licking the affected area might cause further irritation, which can be treated with medication if this problem persists without any healing progress.

These allergic reactions are often caused by flea saliva, which can cause discomfort and itchiness. Tapeworms, ringworms, and other parasites can similarly cause significant discomfort when your dog receives treatment or medication to remove the infestation.

The resulting sensation is often painful and may last until your pup is healed completely. Your dog may continue to lick their back end and the base of the tail for relief during the treatment and healing process.

Food and Environmental Allergies

Sometimes, your dog’s skin may develop a rash or reaction in response to a food allergy or other environmental elements. Food is often the reason for allergic reactions in dogs, with lamb, wheat, gluten, and beef as the most common allergens in dog food products.

An allergy test at your vet’s office will confirm which foods or ingredients to avoid, which can help prevent symptoms in the future.

A change in diet may also resolve other health conditions your pet may have while eliminating or reducing allergic reactions, including itchiness and redness.

If your home or local environment contains allergens such as pollens, grass, molds, or dust, this may irritate your dog. Your pet may groom and lick certain parts of their body as a means to cope and soothe unpleasant symptoms, especially if they are still on grass or an irritating surface.

If you observe that your dog’s reactions are the result of their environment, you can use air filters in your home or limit pesticides or other treatments on your lawn to prevent or reduce allergic symptoms.

border collie looking back

A Sign of Anxiety

When your pup feels anxious, licking excessively can reduce tension and stress, which relieves anxiety. Licking the base of the tail can help release hormones that increase their comfort levels and make them feel relaxed and content.

Your dog may behave this way if there is a sudden change in their routine, a new pet is introduced at home or moving into another house or location. Excessive licking may ease your dog’s anxiousness when they experience a stressful situation, such as a visit to the vet, separation anxiety, or a change at home.

Your pet may benefit from comfort during a difficult situation, though if anxiety persists, medication may be helpful.

Hormone Imbalances in Your Dog

Your dog may lick excessively when there is a hormone imbalance, which regulates many functions in your dog’s body. When hormones are not properly balanced, they can impact your dog’s health in various ways, such as developing a thyroid condition, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and skin and fur health.

Your pet’s skin and fur may become dry, irritated, and patchy, leading to bald spots and itchiness. There are additional signs that your pup may be developing a hormone-related disease, such as increased thirst, vomiting, changes in appetite, fatigue, and diarrhea.


Most dogs will lick the base of their tail more often for various reasons, which is a natural part of their grooming process.

When it becomes excessive, it’s important to pay attention to their habits, your dog’s health, and other factors around your home and environment that can impact your pet’s well-being.

Where there’s a more serious reason for the excessive licking or tail biting, your vet can successfully treat an infestation, skin infection, and other medical conditions so your dog can enjoy greater comfort.

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