Menstrual Waste and Infections That Can Come With It
Most unspayed female dogs will go through heat cycles (similar to a human’s menstruation or “period”) twice a year. During this time, you may notice she has some bloody discharge - this is normal and usually is not cause for alarm. But your dog’s menstrual waste is not just blood -. About half of it is blood and the other half is fluid from the reproductive system. While it may seem gross to think about - the fluid contains cervical mucus, extra tissues, and vaginal secretions, as well as blood. The blood is made up of minerals like iron, chloride, sodium, phosphate, and calcium.
"When your dog is grooming, she will not solely focus on her private area but will move to lick other parts of her body."
Menstrual waste is a natural and normal body function and your dog licking it may not be something you should worry about. But why is your dog doing this?
In this article, we will talk more about your furbaby's menstrual waste, why she may lick the area, and whether it is cause for concern.
The Normal Reasons Your Dog Might Lick Her Private Areas
Before judging your dog for going way too far, know that her licking might be for completely natural reasons.
As a standard part of grooming in the canine community, your dog licking her private area (and the menstrual waste that comes with it) is a way of grooming. This is a normal process at any time, not just during her heat cycle, but you may find she licks more during her heat cycle.
When your dog is grooming, she will not solely focus on her private area but will move to lick other parts of her body. If you notice, however, that she is licking her private area excessively or if she develops a rash, then it might be a sign that something is wrong.
Sexual maturity comes with your furbaby's first heat. With your dog’s first heat, you may begin to notice some new behaviors, like your dog licking her private area. Know that this is one of the most common behaviors of dog nature. Why? Because this is your furbaby's simple way to pleasure themselves!
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® , dogs do masturbate and they do it in various ways. Your furbaby may mount and thrust against other animals, people, and objects, such as wadded-up blankets, dog beds, and toys. Sometimes, they may just rub against people or objects (without mounting them), or yes, they lick themselves.
Your furbaby will keep doing this because they have learned that the behavior feels good. As mentioned by Wag Walking, female dogs will lick their vulva quite vigorously sometimes as they derive pleasure from this activity. Also, because it is their way of coping with play, stress, excitement, compulsive disorders, and some social behaviors.
Dog Licking her Privates: Is Something Wrong?
After watching her constant grooming for the past day or so, you might be saying, "my dog keeps licking her private area". Your dog in heat may be licking her private area because of the following:
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
Can dogs get UTIs? Indeed they can and if your dog licking her private areas more frequently, it can be the sign of a UTI. If your dog is focusing more on licking her private area even after she has cleaned it from menstrual waste, she may have a urinary tract infection. You might wonder, "How do I know if my dog has a UTI?" You should watch for things like straining when she urinates, producing small amounts of urine, cloudy or odd-smelling discharge, or an increased frequency in how often she needs to urinate. Consult your vet to confirm if your dog really has an infection through urinalysis. If she does, she will likely be given antibiotics to clear the infection away. It is important to give her the entire course of antibiotics even if you see improvement after a few days - there is often still lingering bacteria that the antibiotic is still taking care of.
How do dogs get UTIs? A dog can develop a urinary tract infection due to bacteria making its way into a usually sterile environment in the urinary tracts. This could be an infection in the bladder, but more serious infections can track up to the kidneys as well. Dehydration can also lead to an increased risk of UTIs. So make sure that your dog always has access to plenty of fresh water and keep her private areas clean, especially when in heat. Other factors like conformation or anatomical abnormalities, or even underlying diseases like diabetes can predispose your dog to developing UTIs as well.
If your dog is excessively licking her private area, it is possible that she may have developed a rash around her privates. Rashes can be triggered by allergens in the environment, from food, and from insect bites. It is usually best to have your veterinarian take a look at any new rashes or red spots on your pup, but here is something you can do at home while waiting for an appointment.
Clean the affected area with cool water and a mild antibacterial soap. You typically only need to do this once a day. If the rash is getting worse, you may need to put a cone on her as well. This prevents further trauma to the surrounding skin. If your dog keeps licking and the rash worsens, you will have to take your dog to see her vet.
Your dog licking her privates can be because of stress. If you find your dog doing this, it may be her way of dealing with the stress that comes with being in heat. Have her evaluated by her vet to make sure there are not any underlying reasons for her licking. If other medical causes are ruled out and your vet suspects anxiety or behavioral causes, you can provide your dog with different products and supplements that will calm her down. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian though before starting any supplements - they know your pup’s medical history best, and they will also know if the supplements might interact with any medications as well.
It is also good to take note that if your furbaby pleasures herself (while in heat) by licking once or twice a day, there is nothing to worry about. But if her licking behavior causes some skin irritation, it is better if you try to distract her whenever you see her starting to lick again. You may distract her, like toss in Gnawtlers®, give her a toy, play a game, ask her to show the new tricks she have recently learned, and a lot more. You can also try getting your furbaby's attention by calling her name, or moving her to another location in the house.
Infections from Dogs Licking Her Private Areas
It's not necessarily bad for your dog to lick her menstrual waste but know it can possibly lead to bacterial infections. For example if she has been in a dirty environment, like out in the mud, she may be more at risk. There are multiple types of infections that your veterinarian may diagnose including:
This is commonly concentrated in your dog's ears, rectum and private areas. When your dog constantly cleans herself, a yeast infection might develop from the inflamed skin because of over-grooming. The skin is your dog’s physical barrier to prevent bacteria from flourishing; if the skin is damaged or irritated, it is more likely to become infected.
Staph infections usually develop when your dog excessively licks a certain body part to the point that the skin in that area becomes red and irritated. Staph bacteria are already present in your dog's skin but once the skin is irritated, the bacteria will overrun the area.
Preventing Excess Licking
Menstrual waste can never be avoided as it naturally comes with your dog's heat cycle. The good news is that the bleeding typically only lasts about 7-10 days. If you are bothered and don't want your dog to be licking her menstrual waste, you can always opt to let her wear washable dog diapers. These dog diapers are strong and don't easily tear off. They prevent your dog from licking her private area, prevent any more irritations, and prevent your home from being soiled by your dog's menstrual waste. Just remember to change them frequently since she will have to urinate in them as well. Leaving a wet diaper on too long causes the private area and surrounding skin to stay moist - an unfortunately perfect environment for bacterial growth.
Another way to prevent your dog from licking her private areas excessively is to keep the area nice and clean for her. You can use Pet WiPees™ Dog All Purpose + Skin & Coat Wipes to keep her clean without constant baths after changing her diaper or if she seems irritated. These bio-based bamboo wipes contain beneficial ingredients like Vitamin B Complex, Keratin, Omega oils, and hydrating moisturizers. Plus they contain only LickSafe™ ingredients, so if your furbaby does lick herself, it will not irritate her stomach.
"Staph infections usually develop when your dog excessive licks a certain body part to the point that the skin in that area becomes red and irritated."
Why do female dogs lick their privates? It can be as simple as grooming or a sign of an underlying UTI or more serious medical issue. If you believe that your dog is licking herself more than normal or see signs of discomfort, take her to the vet for a check-up.
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