Being a dog parent isn’t complete without the embarrassing moments…
Including when your pooch sniffs their own bum.
It just makes you think:
“Why do they do it?”
I have the answers for that and more.
Keep reading to discover:
- If you should worry when your dog keeps sniffing their behind.
- 9 surprising reasons why dogs sniff their own bum (#7 is concerning).
- 3 worrying issues that cause discomfort around your dog’s rear area (which gets them sniffing).
- And much, much, more…
Table of contents
Why do dogs sniff their own bum?
Dogs sniff their own bum because they’re inspecting it. For example, they might investigate its smell because they farted. Sometimes, they sniff it due to anal gland problems, allergies, or tumors. Other times it’s because of stress, discomfort, or a simple force of habit.
9 reasons why dogs sniff their own bum
#1: They’re grooming themselves
According to VCA Hospitals, licking is part of regular grooming in dogs. Especially around their genitals.
So when you saw your pooch sniff their own bum…
What you didn’t catch them doing is licking their rear area as well.
However, it’s rare for a pooch to both sniff and lick their bum for grooming purposes.
So they only do it if they need to…
When that happens, it has something to do with how their poop looks.
First of all, PetMD says a healthy dog’s stool is firm and chocolate brown.
So when Fido is ill with intestinal parasites. Or they ate food they shouldn’t consume…
Their poop will be watery or sticky.
And with that consistency, there’d be some of it left around their anal area…
Then, your pooch will sniff their bum before cleaning around it.
#2: It’s a coping mechanism
Your pooch is capable of feeling stressed too.
But their way of showing and handling it is different.
So they won’t bite their nails or tap their foot repeatedly…
Instead, vets say they’d display these signs:
Moreover, they’ll develop displacement behaviors…
Those are coping mechanisms that help them escape stressful situations.
An example of that is excessive sniffing.
And in this case, your pooch constantly smells their bum.
“Should I stop them?”
I recommend you not to go with that…
It’s not the best way to deal with this.
Since stress is causing your pooch to sniff their own bum…
You must get rid of their stressor instead.
Because if you just tell your dog off for smelling their butt…
It can only get your pup more stressed.
Moreover, they might listen to you and stop sniffing their bum…
But they’ll find another way to cope with their stress.
If, before, it was only harmless sniffing…
Their displacement behavior could turn into:
- Biting their body.
- Shaking (like they do when they’re wet).
- Scratching themself or objects like the couch or carpet.
#3: They just farted
What was that?”
Says your pupper who had just farted.
So, they sniffed their bum as they felt it came from there.
Just like what happened with this gassy dog:
So, when a dog farts…
Not only are they trying to figure out what just happened…
They’re also curious about the smell that came out.
Remember that dogs don’t understand their body the way we know ours.
That’s why their own fart surprises and intrigues them.
Fun fact: Dog farts are stinky due to hydrogen sulfide. But this research found a way to lessen it when your dog’s gassy. And that’s by giving your pooch a treat with activated charcoal.
“What made them fart in the first place?”
The simplest reason is swallowing too much air.
But if you recently changed their diet…
Then their digestive system is shocked by the sudden shift.
So, it reacts by making your pooch fart.
Lastly, gas could be due to an underlying illness. Some examples are:
- Stomach infection.
- Intestinal parasites.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
You might also be interested in: Why Does My Dog Smell Like Ammonia? 5 Questions Answered
#4: They’re exploring the smell
Trivia: A dog’s nose is powerful enough to detect a concentration of 1 part per trillion. That’s a single drop of liquid in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
And according to vets, a canine has 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose.
Now, dogs are compelled to use that superpower…
That’s why they’re enthusiastic sniffers.
Moreover, your pooch is naturally curious.
So they’ll explore all the smells that come in their way…
Including the scent of their own bum.
You might also want to know: Dog Constantly Sniffing The Ground: 7 Reasons + 7 Tips
#5: Anal sac disease
Not only do they use their nose to explore smells…
Fido also sniffs around to inspect objects and their oddity.
And when your pooch has anal sac disease…
They feel pain in their rear area.
So, you’ll catch them sniffing their own bum.
As they try to figure out what’s going on.
“What’s anal sac disease?”
First of all, your dog has 2 anal sacs on their anus.
These are small pouches that produce a foul-smelling liquid.
According to VCA Hospitals, the scent from that fluid is distinct for every pooch.
That’s why dogs use the liquid’s smell as identification.
So you might notice when canines meet, they sniff each other’s bums.
And that’s also the reason vets call the fluid “dog calling cards.”
Now, your pupper secretes that liquid along with their poop.
But when the fluid builds up on their anal sacs…
The pouches become the perfect home for bacterial growth. Which gets the sacs impacted.
Then, it leads to bum-sniffing, along with these other signs:
- Licking their rear area.
- Scooting their bum on the floor.
- Biting around the base of their tail.
- Sudden aggression when you touch them near their anal area.
As I said, your pooch will examine odd things or feelings using their nose.
That’s why when they’re uncomfortable around their rear area…
They’ll start sniffing their own bum.
“But what’s causing them discomfort?”
Your pupper might be feeling a tinge of pain around their anus.
With that, sniffing might also be accompanied by itching in that spot.
And that’s because of 1 of these 3 reasons:
Flea allergy dermatitis
These are small, wingless parasites that feed on your dog’s blood.
Fleas will bite your canine wherever they can.
Moreover, they inject their saliva into your pup when they bite your pooch.
And since most dogs are allergic to the protein found in flea saliva…
Fido’s body reacts poorly, which leads to flea allergy dermatitis.
So when your pooch is uneasy due to flea bites around their tail…
You’ll catch them sniffing their own bum.
Moreover, the MSDVM says your pooch will also react by:
- Chewing or nibbling the itchy part of their skin.
Yet another blood-sucking parasite.
And ticks like to attach themselves to their host until they feel full.
So, you’ll see different sizes of them burrowed in your dog’s skin.
Moreover, the MSDVM states that ticks have a favored feeding area.
They prefer clinging to these spots:
- Under the tail.
- Near the anus.
- Around the pubic area.
And when they attach themself in those parts…
The spot instantly feels hot and becomes itchy.
So if your pooch has ticks hidden under their tail and around their anus…
You’ll see them sniffing their own bum. Especially before they try to relieve the area through itching.
Your pup will smell their bum when there’s poop left around it.
Not only because they intend to groom it in a while…
But also due to discomfort.
And if your pooch can’t reach the area properly, which prevents them from cleaning it…
The poop remnants will dry and harden over time.
They could turn the hair around the anus into matted fur.
Then, that could lead to pseudocoprostasis or anal blockage.
According to PetMD, a dog with anal blockage will start:
- Pooping less.
- Not eating anymore.
- Develop a rash under the matted fur.
#7: Food allergies
Sniffing their own bum is a subtle sign of food allergy in dogs.
And this is how the condition led to the behavior:
Vets say food allergies cause an overreaction in your canine’s immune system.
That’s because Fido’s body can’t tolerate some food.
According to research, these are the most common food allergen in dogs:
- Dairy products.
So when these allergens trigger an overreaction, Fido begins to show these signs:
- Weight loss.
- Sudden aggression.
As shown above, food allergies lead to watery stools.
When that happens, there’ll be lots of poop left over around your dog’s bum.
And as you learned, that’s uncomfortable for your pooch. Which makes them sniff their own bum to inspect it.
Then Fido will also want to groom their bum area…
So, they smell it first before cleaning it.
#8: A developing tumor
Tumor of the anal sacs is an uncommon condition in dogs.
Regardless, it remains a serious one.
An anal tumor invades the surrounding tissues in the anal sacs.
Usually, it affects only 1 of the pouches.
So in most cases, only 1 side is enlarged due to the tumor.
But it can spread in distant tissues, affecting the second sac.
Now, your pooch might find the tumor mass odd.
Moreover, it causes discomfort.
So, you’ll see them sniff their own bum when they’re checking it out.
As for other signs of this condition, ACVS says those are:
- Loss of appetite.
- Blood in the stool.
- Pain or straining to defecate.
- Excessive thirst and urination.
#9: It’s a weird habit
Admittedly, humans don’t know everything about dogs yet.
We can only explain a little about why they do certain things.
And when it comes to sniffing their own bum…
Some puppers do it because they want to.
Now, as long as it doesn’t endanger their well-being…
You can let your pooch keep this weird habit.