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7 Reasons Why Dogs Look At Their Back End: (Vet Advice)

Has your dog been obsessed with their back end lately?

A dog that keeps looking at their back end and tail could be dealing with anything from uncomfortable gas to infected anal glands, so let’s discuss each potential factor that could be leading to your pup’s distress!

why dogs look at their back end

Is This Behavior Normal In Dogs?

Before we dive into the potential factors behind this behavior, let’s first answer the question of whether or not it is normal.

Our canine friends are curious critters by nature, so the occasional perplexing look toward their tail or back end can be completely normal. They may have a sudden itch or tingle in the area, causing them to focus on the area for a brief moment. 

However, if this behavior is occurring frequently or constantly, it could be a sign of serious irritation in the area. If your pup can’t seem to keep their eyes off their back end, this could be a sign of something more. 

Additional info: Dog Body Language AKC

7 Reasons Your Dog Constantly Looks At Their Back End

Now that you are aware of the fact that this behavior is not entirely normal, let’s dive into the potential causes of this strange habit in our pups!

  1. Impacted anal glands
  2. Fleas
  3. Gas
  4. Constipation
  5. Skin infections
  6. Pain
  7. Entertainment

1. They Have Impacted Anal Glands

Impacted anal glands are likely the most common factor behind a dog that is obsessed with their back end. These sacs sit just inside of the dog’s anus, excreting small amounts of scented fluid with each bowel movement. The scent of the fluid is unique to your pup, and acts as a canine identification system. 

When the anal glands are functioning properly, a small amount of anal sac fluid will be excreted each time the dog passes stool.

This process allows the anal sacs to empty completely, and it prevents the fluid from building up within the sac. However, if anything is inhibiting the anal gland’s ability to empty properly, this can quickly lead to an impaction. 

When the anal sacs are unable to empty, this causes the fluid in the sacs to harden. This makes it impossible for the glands to empty and causes them to fill to the point of discomfort. 

Not only will this be painful for the pup affected, but it can lead to an anal gland abscess. If this is the case for your dog, they will certainly be looking at their back end frequently. 

A dog with impacted anal glands will typically look at their back end, lick their back end, scoot across the ground, and even struggle to pass stool. If you think this may be the case for your furry friend, it’s time to make an appointment to have their anal glands expressed.

2. They Have Fleas

Fleas love to set up camp on our canine friends. These crawling critters will burrow into our pet’s fur and bite their skin, causing an intense itching sensation with each bite. The more fleas your pup has, the itchier they will become. 

Fleas love to spend time in the area around the base of your dog’s tail, so if this is the case, you may catch your pup looking back at their hind end often. These pups may even bite at the area and appear frantic, as fleas can cause serious discomfort as they feed on your pup. 

If you think your dog may have fleas, we suggest looking through their fur for any tiny crawling friends. You can also look for any evidence of flea dirt, which looks like tiny specks of dirt spread throughout your dog’s fur. If you find any evidence of fleas, we suggest reaching out to your vet to purchase an approved flea treatment and prevention. 

3. They Have Gas

Gas is very difficult for our pups to comprehend. While we may understand the process and what to expect when our stomach grumbles, our dogs don’t have this comprehension. Because of this, the presence of gas can startle a dog. 

If your dog is actively having gas, you may notice them staring at their back end with a perplexed look on their face. This should end once their stomach settles, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, you may want to reach out to your vet for guidance. 

Frequent gas can be a sign of everything from food allergies to intestinal parasites, so we always recommend scheduling a vet appointment for a chronically gassy pup. 

4. They Are Constipated

A dog with optimal gut health should pass stool at least once a day. Any back up in this schedule can not only lead to constipation for these pups, but it can lead to some significant discomfort as well. 

If your dog is experiencing any GI upset from constipation, you may notice them staring at their back end more than usual. This can be a result of the fullness they may feel in their GI tract, as well as any soreness from straining to pass hard stool. 

Dogs with constipation may strain as they are passing stool, pass dehydrated or hard stool, have blood in their stool, or be unable to pass their stool altogether.

While minor constipation can sometimes be resolved with the addition of pumpkin to their diet or increased water intake, other cases will require veterinary help. 

If you think your furry friend is struggling with constipation, we always suggest giving your vet a call and asking for their guidance. They may have some additional at home tips!

5. They Have A Skin Infection

Skin infections are absolutely unbearable for our canine friends. They are typically secondary to a condition that causes itching, and develop as a result of a dog’s constant scratching of the skin.

When a dog is constantly scratching and biting at their skin, they are introducing an array of bacteria to the damaged portions of the skin. This can quickly lead to a localized infection or an infected sore known as a hot spot. 

Hot spots often occur on a dog’s hind end right at the base of the tail, as this is an easy area for our dogs to reach with their mouths.

They are incredibly painful for our pups, and often make it hard for them to concentrate on anything else. If this happens to your pup, you may see them constantly looking at the area. 

The symptoms of a skin infection in dogs include skin redness, itching, skin odor, dry skin, and sores on the skin. Skin infections require medical intervention to properly treat, so we always suggest having your pup seen in these situations. 

6. They Have Painful Joints

If your pup keeps looking at their back end and tail, it’s very possible that they are actually acknowledging their painful joints. Our dogs can’t always comprehend the pain they are experiencing, so they may simply look to that region in effort to figure out what’s going on. 

Dogs with painful joints and arthritis may also experience limping, difficulty getting up and down, stiffness, disinterest in physical activity, crying out with certain movements, and painful joints. 

If you think your dog is experiencing painful joints, we suggest speaking with your vet about a pain control plan going forward. This may include joint supplements, long term pain management, special diets, physical therapy, and more. 

7. Their Tail Is Enticing

Some pups just think their tail is a fun toy! Some pups will watch their tail as it moves back and forth, occasionally snapping at the tail in an effort to catch it.

If this happens from time to time, this is simply a goofy canine behavior that should not cause any concern. 

However, if your dog is constantly chasing their tail, this could be a sign of an underlying compulsive disorder. If your dog’s love of their tail seems a bit extreme, we suggest making an appointment with your vet to discuss the behavior. 

Additional info on OCD (habits) behavior in dogs. Veterinary Partner.

Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

So when should you be worried about your dog’s sudden interest in their back end?  While you may not need to worry if this occurs from time to time, it can point to underlying discomfort if it becomes a regular habit. 

If you catch your dog staring at their back end multiple days in a row, or if they are displaying other strange symptoms, we suggest giving your vet a call.

Your veterinary team will ask you a few questions about your pup’s behavior, and based on your answers, they can determine whether or not they need to be seen. 

At the end of the day, we always suggest giving your vet a call if you are ever concerned about a change in your dog’s behavior. It’s always best to be safe!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a list of potential factors behind your dog’s sudden interest in their back end. Be sure to take note of any strange behaviors your pup is displaying, as this will help your vet determine the best plan of action if they need to be seen. 

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.