There are many things that dogs do that we don’t understand.
And then there are some behaviors that we really don’t like.
One of those things is tail-licking.
In this article, we will look at what causes your dog to lick his tail, as well as the potential health risks associated with it.
- Dogs and licking
- Reasons why your dog might lick his tail
- Obsessing over taillicking
- The medical implications of taillicking
- How to stop your dog from licking his tail
Let’s start by looking at the reason why dogs may lick their tails.
Dogs can have a variety of different motivations for doing so.
Some dogs just love to feel the texture of their fur; others may enjoy the sensation of having their coat clean.
Others may simply want to cool down after exercise.
But if your dog does not normally like to lick his tail, you may notice that he suddenly starts doing so more often.
Or, perhaps, he licks it when he is excited or nervous.
So, let’s look at what might cause your dog to start licking his tail.
Dogs and licking
Dogs have very specific needs in order to stay healthy.
They require a variety of different foods, as well as certain supplements and vitamins.
A balanced diet also helps them avoid certain diseases caused by poor nutrition.
But when it comes to grooming, they need even more than that.
Dogs need regular baths, nail clipping, ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and much more.
When a dog is not receiving these treatments on a regular basis, their health can suffer significantly.
One thing that all dogs need to keep themselves clean and healthy, however, is water.
The human body requires water for proper functioning.
This is especially true for dogs because they do not sweat as humans do.
As such, they must drink water every day in order to maintain good health.
When it comes to drinking water, most dogs like to drink out of a bowl.
However, if they are going to be outside, they may prefer to drink out of a water bottle.
But no matter where they choose to drink, they need to be able to access it easily.
So one behavior that is often seen in dogs is tail-licking.
Reasons why your dog might lick his tail
A dog’s tail can be used in various ways.
It can act as a rudder for steering when he runs on water, or it can help him balance himself while he walks.
A dog’s tail also helps him communicate with other dogs and people by wagging it back and forth.
This is one of the primary reasons why a dog may lick his tail, which is often referred to as “tail-wagging.”
But sometimes, this behavior goes beyond a mere greeting, and becomes excessive.
If your dog is constantly licking his tail, even though nothing is wrong with it, this may be a sign of a problem.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your dog may be licking his tail:
When your dog is excited about something, he might start licking his tail.
He may be excited because of a new toy or food, or because he has just met someone new.
Or he may be excited because he is happy to see you after being away from home for a long time.
Either way, if your dog is licking his tail excessively, it could indicate that he is very excited.
If your dog is nervous, he may start licking his tail out of fear.
The reason could be that he is afraid of something, such as another dog, or a stranger.
Sometimes, dogs who are anxious or fearful tend to lick their tails more than others.
They may also try to cover up their anxiety by licking their tails.
Sometimes a dog may lick his tail when he is bored or frustrated.
For example, if he is left alone in the house all day, he may start licking his tail to keep himself busy.
Or he may have been locked outside for too long, and so he needs to relieve the stress by licking his tail.
This is similar to the previous point.
When a dog is anxious, he may start licking his tail to calm down.
However, if you notice that your dog is constantly licking his tail, it could mean that he is suffering from anxiety disorder.
Dogs who suffer from anxiety disorders may bite themselves, chew on objects, bark incessantly, or display other abnormal behaviors.
5. Other health problems
Your dog may lick his tail if he is experiencing any kind of discomfort.
For example, if he is overweight, his tail may become stiffer and thicker, and he may start licking it to get relief from the pain.
Another health issue that may cause your dog to lick his tail is hypothyroidism.
Dogs with this condition may not feel comfortable around other animals.
6. Obsessive behavior
If your dog is obsessed with anything, including his tail, it may indicate that he has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
An animal with OCD may obsess over certain actions or objects, and may repeat them over and over again without realizing that they are doing it.
Your dog may lick his tail compulsively, hoping that this action will make everything better.
7. Separation anxiety
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, he may start licking his tail whenever he sees you leave the house.
He may also be overly concerned about where you are going, and may start barking, whining, or jumping up on you in order to follow you wherever you go.
If you find that your dog is always licking his tail, especially if it starts off small and gradually increases, you should consult a veterinarian immediately.
Obsessing over taillicking
While most people know that dogs sometimes have their tails licked by other dogs (and even humans), they may not realize that their own pets can also do so.
According to The Humane Society, a pet owner can typically tell when their pet is doing it because they often “notice the dog rubbing its hindquarters against something solid.”
In addition, dogs who often lick their tail tend to hold on to it for long periods of time.
This behavior becomes especially noticeable if a dog is lying down in one place and begins to move around a lot, which is common in puppies.
While some dogs enjoy the sensation of being rubbed by another dog, others find it irritating.
When a dog does start to obsessively lick its tail, it can become a habit that has negative consequences.
For example, excessive tail-licking may indicate that your dog is nervous, anxious, aggressive, or stressed out.
If such stress is left untreated, it may lead to serious health problems, including heart disease.
If you notice that your dog is constantly licking his tail, you should take action before it gets worse.
Here are some tips to help keep your dog’s tail happy.
The medical implications of taillicking
Licking your dog’s tail can have serious consequences if not treated promptly.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has released a list of several health conditions that can arise from excessive tail-licking in dogs.
- Degenerative Joint Disease
- Severe skin infections
- Inflammation of the anal sacs
If left untreated, these conditions can lead to more serious problems such as loss of mobility, pain, and even death.
So now that we know how bad tail-licking can be, let’s look at ways to prevent it and treat it when it occurs.
How to stop your dog from licking his tail
If you have a dog who licks his tail excessively, you may want to try these tips for stopping him from doing so.
1) Try distraction training
To begin this training, start by giving your dog something he likes to eat.
Once he has eaten, place him in a room away from you where you can’t see him.
You can either close the door or keep it open.
Then, slowly move toward your dog until you are about 10 feet away from him.
Don’t walk straight towards him, but rather turn around and walk backwards to him.
As soon as you get close enough, give your dog a treat.
Repeat this process several times per day for a week or two.
2) Use a toy
Another method involves using a toy.
Place your dog in a room where he cannot see you.
Hold the toy above your head and slowly lower it down towards him.
When he sees the toy, give him a treat.
Repeat this exercise several times per day for several days.
Eventually, your dog will learn not to lick his tail while you are holding the toy above his head.
3) Use a leash
This technique works best if your dog is on a leash.
You can use a leash that is long enough to allow you to reach your dog’s tail without bending over.
Hold onto the end of the leash and gently pull it up to your dog’s tail.
Then, release the leash and repeat this exercise several times per day for several days.
You may need to practice this technique several times before your dog learns that he shouldn’t lick his tail while you are pulling on it.
4) Use a muzzle
If all else fails, you can also simply put a muzzle on your dog when he is out of sight of you.
This will prevent him from licking his tail, but you must remember that you will need to remove the muzzle every time you want to let him outside.
5) Get professional help
If none of these methods work, you might consider getting professional help.
A behaviorist or trainer can help you figure out which techniques will work best for you.
They can also teach you how to train your dog to not lick his tail even if he does it accidentally.
Licking the tail can be a normal behavior for a lot of dogs.
But if your dog is obsessively lapping his tail, it could be a sign of anxiety or other mental issues.
If your dog licks his tail excessively, it could also be a sign of an underlying health condition.
So, before you get too upset about your dog’s tail-licking habit, consult your veterinarian first.