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Dr. Smith
Dr. Smith, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1368
Experience:  Veterinarian in Small Animal Practice for 13 years
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Why is my dog constantly licking his butt and tail area?

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Dog will lick and nibble his back butt where his tail starts.

Odds are he may have inflamed or infected anal sacs that may need to be expressed by your veterinarian. Do you also notice him scoot on his bum at anytime?? Anal sacs are two glandular sacs located just inside the rectum at 4 and 8 o'clock. Their job is to secrete a pungent/foul odor to the faeces everytime your dog defecates....this serves to "mark" the stool, so other dog's will know they are in another dog's territory. The sacs are often expressed when a pet is overly excited, agitated, or fearful. Perhaps you've smelled a distinctive odor on your dog and not known what that might be?? These sacs very often become blocked and can swell to a really uncomfortable size.... They can also become infected.. Dogs will definitely lick, chew, and bother this area to try and find some type of relief!

Aside from anal sac disease, fleas are notorious for congregating at the tail head and causing intense itching and irritation at that area. Are you seeing an evidence of fleas or any flea dirt on your dog's skin???

My bet is that it is one of these two problems!! Your vet will need to do the anal sac check and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatories that your pet might need to feel more comfortable.

If you see evidence of fleas, than you should use a long acting, SAFE, topical flea preventive such as Frontline Plus, Advantage, or Revolution immediately. Your pet may require antihistamines or anti-inflammatories to calm down any flea related dermatitis. Your vet should be able to determine what will work best for you and your pet!

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

There are no signs of fleas and I know it is not the anal sacks... He has never scooted and he doesn't lick the anus area (besides normal cleaning). He licks the top part of his tail/back. I have noticed dry scabby skin back by his back/tail area. he has licked his tail raw in that area as well. Last time I was at doctor he gave him an allergy shot. It didn't work. I am taking him back again but would like advise as to what things I need to point out to the vet instead of dishing out more money that is not going to solve the problem.

If an allergy injection ( I will presume steroidal), than that does exclude allergens in a big way, because typically steroids shut down inflammation fast! I wouldn't be too sure it was not the anal glands. When a dog feels pain they will lick/chew approximate to the pain. The fact that your dog is licking his tail raw concerns me.

More serious problems can now be considered if you want to exclude the top two most common differentials. That leads me to think of either a deep pyoderma or skin infection which would require antibiotics and medicated shampoos.

And then there is the possibility of deep pain secondary to degenerative arthritis in the lower lumbar spine or Coccygeal area of the vertebrae.

On the bottom of the list, we have cancer of deeper underlying tissues causing pain discomfort.

Mites can definitely cause intense itching, but typically the tail head is not a favorite distribution site for either scabies or Demodex.

I sense your frustration about not getting a quick fix for your pet. You must understand that there are many entities that could cause the syndromes your dog is displaying. Your vet did what most of us do based on history and clinical signs... Treated for allergy related dermatitis. That it showed a poor response means that more diagnostics need to be done. We are doctors, not magicians. We can only intuitively presume so much before we must rely on scientific fact to help support our diagnoses. It can be extremely frustrating for us as well when our clients only want the problem to stop immediately, but aren't willing to invest in the tests that need to be done in order for us to find the proper treatment.

I stand firm in checking the anal glands and the prostate. Sorry, I don't believe anything until I see it for myself :) I would also consider having a skin scrape done, a culture and sensitivity of the affected area, and possibly an x-ray of the lower lumbar/coccygeal area to see if there is any evidence of underlying disease in the bone.

As a professional, I do think your pet is likely uncomfortable, and do wish for you that you find the answers you seek. Just realize that they do not come fast, cheap, or easy.

Dr. Smith, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1368
Experience: Veterinarian in Small Animal Practice for 13 years
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