I came across a question recently about why an owners dog was continuously licking and chewing his rear raw. That is known as self mutilation, and it should be addressed immediately. Self mutilation in dogs can be caused by a variety of issues, some more serious than others. It’s even more important to find the root cause of the self mutilation when it occurs at the dogs rear end.
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What is Self Mutilation
Self mutilation in dogs occurs when a dog has an irritation at some spot on its body. Whether it is caused by itching or pain, the dog will lick and chew excessively at the area trying to get some relief. This excessive licking and chewing invariably leads to tissue breakdown. The tissue breakdown leads to more irritation and more licking and chewing. It’s a vicious cycle that can result in some extremely nasty skin infections, and in the case of the irritation being in the rectum area, it can also be an indicator of serious problems.
What Can Self Mutilation Signify
Self mutilation in dogs can be a symptom of a variety of conditions ranging from the benign to life threatening conditions. It’s important to see a vet in any case of self mutilation, but it’s even more so in the case of a dog attacking it’s hind end.
- Allergies: An easily treatable condition that often presents with varying degrees of self mutilation, allergies cause extreme itching. This itching causes the dog to lick and chew. You will most often see this behavior concentrated at your dog’s feet and rectum.
- Irritated anal glands: All dogs have anal glands located just inside their rectum at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions. Normally, these glands are expressed when the dog defecates, however this doesn’t happen in some dogs. That leads to extremely full anal glands which can be itchy and uncomfortable, causing the dog to lick and chew to attempt to relieve the irritation.
- Infected anal glands: Infected anal glands are generally secondary to a prolonged inability of the anal glands to drain. Infected anal glands are intensely painful. When a dog has infected anal glands, you will see aggressive licking and chewing as well as a reluctance to sit and defecate.
- Anal Tumors: These occur most commonly in un-neutered dogs, and they are bad, bad, bad. If left untreated, anal tumors can be deadly. The metastasize rapidly, so early detection is key.
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Self Mutilation is Never Good – See Your Vet
Self mutilation is never good. Even the mildest case can cause a painful hot spot, and the worst case scenario can be deadly. If your dog is excessively licking and chewing – especially at its rear – get it to your vet immediately. I’m talking take off work if you have to. All self mutilation is bad, but self mutilation that focuses on the rear can be a sign of something terrible.
Have you ever dealt with self mutilation in your dog? What did your vet recommend?