Why Do Female Dogs Lick Their Privates? Causes and Concerns

페이지 정보


A female puppy licking their privates on a couch draped with a fabric and several pillows

A female puppy licking their privates on a couch draped with a fabric and several pillows

Why a female dog keeps licking her vulva

Licking around the vulva or anus is a common behavior observed in female dogs. This may be a normal part of their grooming ritual, such as cleaning up after urination, or for unspayed females during menstruation. However, frequent or excessive licking of the privates may indicate a health problem in your dog. The causes of this behavior can range from medical issues such as vaginitis, empyema, or infections to behavioral issues.

Common causes for female dogs licking their privates excessively

The reasons for female puppies licking their genitalia can range from normal grooming activities to both medical and simply behavioral issues.

  • Estrus

    In non-spayed females, there is the cycle known as estrus in which the vulva may become swollen and there may be a discharge of blood. During this time, they may also engage in self-grooming habits by licking their vulva. Estrus typically occurs every 4 to 12 months and lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Grooming

    When grooming, itching may occur due to the hair around the genital area being cut too short or as a result of irritation caused by foreign substances.

  • Vaginitis

    Vaginitis caused by trauma, foreign bodies, tumors, clotting disorders, anatomical abnormalities, or hormonal abnormalities can cause a female dog to lick their privates. Young female puppies who are not yet in heat can often develop 'puppy vaginitis'. In these cases, the problem usually resolves after estrus, but a veterinarian consultation is necessary.

  • Pyometra

    Pyometra is a condition that occurs when bacteria invade the uterus through an open cervix during estrus (heat) and the endometrium (lining of the uterus) becomes infected. This can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and cause symptoms such as licking privates and abnormal vaginal discharge.

  • Allergies

    Both environmental and food allergies can lead to itching in the genital area. Environmental allergies, such as those caused by seasonal changes in pollen, can also cause itching in the genital area.

  • Skin infection

    It is normal for some bacteria to be present on the skin. However, infections can occur when there is an abnormal growth of bacteria or yeast, a weakening of the skin barrier, or a decrease in immunity. In the case of a bacterial infection, pustules or bumps are often observed. In the case of a fungal infection, the skin may appear dark red and have an odor.

  • UTI (urinary tract infection & stones)

  • Stress, anxiety, and behavioral problems

Symptoms associated with a female dog licking their privates

You may suspect a medical problem if your dog experiences any of the following symptoms along with genital licking:

  • Redness or swelling around the genitalia
  • Observe pustules or bumps on the skin around the genitalia
  • Discoloration of the skin around the genitalia
  • Difficulty urinating or increased urination frequency
  • Rubbing or scooting the genitalia or perianal region on the floor
  • A bad smell when urinating
  • Pus or blood-like discharge from genitalia

When to see a vet for a female dog licking her vulva

Unspayed females are more likely to engage in licking their privates as they have an increased risk for vaginal and cervical diseases. It is advised to seek veterinary care if any other symptoms such as loss of appetite, high fever, vomiting, or diarrhea are present.

How to treat a female dog licking their privates at home

If you find your dog licking her genitalia excessively, it's recommended to give them a gentle rinse beforehand to maintain cleanliness in the area around her vulva. To prevent excessive licking, consider using a neck collar. Additionally, if this behavior is a result of stress or anxiety, try to identify and remove the inducing stimuli.

A female papillon puppy receiving an ultrasound at a veterinarian office

How a veterinarian will diagnose a female dog licking her privates

When a female dog is brought to the hospital because of excessive licking of her genitalia, the veterinarian will perform a medical examination and work with the owner to conduct a physical examination to make an accurate diagnosis.

Your veterinarian may ask you the following questions:

  • When did the symptoms start?
  • Under what circumstances do symptoms often appear?
  • If your dog has not been spayed, when was her most recent heat?
  • Are there any other symptoms besides genitalia licking?

The following tests can be performed to accurately diagnose a cause:

  • Physical examination

    A physical examination to look inside the vulva and vagina.

  • Imaging tests

    Imaging tests are used to check for vaginal and uterine abnormalities and problems with the urinary system.

  • Blood and urine test

    Blood and urine tests can check for other potential problems in the body and evaluate the condition of your dog’s urinary system.

  • Skin cytology test

    If an infection is suspected, it is confirmed by skin cytology.

Treatment process for excessive licking of the genitalia in female dogs

Once the cause is identified, treatment methods will vary depending on the cause of the symptoms.

  • Vaginal and cervical diseases

    Excessive licking of the privates due to these diseases can usually be resolved through spaying surgery.

  • Urinary system infection

    Because it is a relatively common condition caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are often prescribed. For infections that affect the upper urinary tract, such as the kidneys and ureters, the treatment period may be longer, lasting up to 4 to 6 weeks.

  • Allergies

    If a food allergy is suspected, a restriction on that food or alternatives may be prescribed. To avoid environmental allergens, such as pollen, it may be helpful to adjust the time spent outdoors. In the case of severe allergies, medications such as antihistamines or steroids may be prescribed in combination.

  • Skin infections

    Antibiotic or antifungal ointments can be applied topically or, in severe cases, taken orally.

How to prevent a female dog from licking her vulva

If you're not planning on breeding your pet, spaying can help prevent a variety of diseases. If your pet starts showing symptoms that may be related to changes in their environment, such as a change in season or food, it's a good idea to change the environment or food back and try to eliminate the suspected cause.

To prevent infection, it is recommended to wash the area around your pet's vulva after outdoor activities such as walks or after sitting in dirty places for a long time.

Find out more about your dog’s symptoms on the Buddydoc app!

Buddydoc dog symptom checker infographic

The Buddydoc library is filled with everything you’d want to know about each symptom and disease your pet may experience. If you would like to find out more about the causes, signs, treatments, preventions, and more for your dog’s disease. Try out the Buddydoc app and search your pet’s symptom or disease in the Buddydoc library.