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What is Rectal Itching?

Rectal itching in dogs is simply an itch in the anal area and is often noticed by pet parents when a dog licks or bites at the area, or scoots their behind across floors, grass or even pavement. While these behaviors are symptoms of rectal itching, the same signs can also indicate pain or discomfort in that area, all of which could be caused by a variety of issues. 

Generally, if rectal itching is infrequent, there's no cause for concern. But if your dog is often trying to scratch or scoot their anal area, they may have an issue with their anal glands, parasites, allergies, infection, or a tumor. If you feel that your furry family member is experiencing bouts of rectal itching that go on for prolonged periods of time, or that keep reoccurring, you will want to investigate the cause with your veterinarian. 

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Symptoms of Rectal Itching in Dogs

If your canine companion is experiencing rectal itching, you may see them: 

  • Scooting or rubbing their behind along the floor
  • Licking around the tail or anus
  • Scratching or biting the area around the tail or anus
  • Be restless or even distressed about the itching

There could also be additional symptoms accompanying the itching, which could help in diagnosing the cause. These could include:

  • Foul odor
  • Pain
  • Swollen or irritated tissue around anal area
  • Protrusion of tissue from anus
  • Diarrhea or bloody stool

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Causes of Rectal Itching in Dogs

Rectal itching is a sign of a medical issue affecting your dog. While it can be more common for a dog to exhibit behaviors related to rectal itching due to an issue with their anal glands, such as impaction or infection, there are several conditions which might also be the culprit. These can include:

  • Anal sacs could be full, impacted, or infected
  • Environmental, food or flea allergy or sensitivity
  • Yeast or bacterial infection in skin around anus
  • Perianal or rectal tumor
  • Perianal fissures (ulcers and cracks in the skin of the rectum)
  • Fecal contamination causing irritation of skin in anal area
  • Tapeworm or parasitic infection 
  • Ringworm infection
  • Grooming cuts or clipper burn

Some breeds are predisposed to certain issues that can cause rectal itching. These can include:

  • German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Chocolate Labs, Poodles, Boxers, and Weimaraners are predisposed to food sensitivities.
  • Basset Hounds, German Shepherds, West Highland White Terriers, Shih Tzus, Malteses, English Setters and Cocker Spaniels are prone to yeast infections around anus.
  • German shepherds

    Beagles, Bouvier des Flandres, Spaniels, Irish Setters, Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, Labrador Retrievers and English Bulldogs have higher risk of perianal fissures.

  • Smaller breeds tend to have anal gland impaction and other related problems.

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Diagnosis of Rectal Itching in Dogs

A diagnosis of rectal itching can be complex, as there could be several conditions that may be causing this sign in your dog. First, your veterinarian will need to know how long your dog has shown signs of rectal itching, how often they are displayed, and any other symptoms you may have noticed. Also tell your veterinarian if your dog has been itching other areas of their body, if they've been ill recently, and how distressed your dog seems to be about the itching. Your veterinarian may also ask if your dog has traveled recently, and about their diet. 

Next, your veterinarian will want to do a physical examination, checking the anal area for swelling, skin irritations, and any protrusions. Your veterinarian will likely check your dog's anal glands to see if they are full or swollen. If a bacterial or yeast infection may be the culprit, a skin scraping or swabbing might be taken for testing.

Other tests for various conditions could include fecal testing for parasitic infections, hair or skin testing for fungal infections, imaging for tumors, and blood and urine tests. Allergy testing may be needed to diagnose environmental or food allergies. If a food allergy is the likely culprit, a food elimination trial may be prescribed. 

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Treatment of Rectal Itching in Dogs

Treatment for rectal itching will wholly depend on the condition that is causing it. If the anal glands are full, they may be expressed. In some cases, a medication to soften hardened fluid may be injected. A prescription for antibiotics may be given for an infection. In severe cases, the anal glands can be surgically removed.

For food allergies and sensitivities, elimination of the offending food from your dog's diet will be required. The best treatment for flea and environmental allergies is to avoid the allergen. Flea medications and topical applications can help reduce or eliminate fleas from affecting your dog, while allergy medications can be prescribed for controlling symptoms of environmental allergies.

Both yeast and ringworm are fungal infections that can be treated with topical therapies such as medicated cream or shampoo, and oral mediations. Ringworm is contagious to other dogs, cats and humans, so decontamination of the environment will be needed. 

Tapeworms are treated by oral or injectable medications that will dissolve the tapeworms inside your dog's body. 

Perianal fissures are treated with stool softeners, antibiotic therapy, and perianal cleansing. If benign, tumors can often be resolved in intact male dogs with neutering. Malignant tumors may require chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Rectal tumors generally require surgery.

    Any other conditions may require different treatment strategies.

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    Recovery of Rectal Itching in Dogs

    Depending on the cause of the rectal itching, your dog may require topical or oral treatments to be administered at home. If surgery was performed, be sure to keep your dog calm during recovery. It is important to finish any medication or treatment prescribed by your veterinarian in full. Your dog may also need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from scratching or biting the anal area while recovering. 

    Be sure to keep an eye on your dog, and report any changes, signs or issues during a follow-up appointment. Rectal itching can return if the initial cause or underlying disease is not resolved. Recovery rates vary depending on the cause of the itching, but in many cases are good with treatment.

    Dietary adjustments may be prescribed, including eliminating problem foods or adding fiber. Diligent flea control will be part of preventing a flea allergy or the recurrence of a tapeworm infection. Good grooming practices, which include ensuring the anal area is clean, can help to prevent further irritation for your dog.

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    Rectal Itching Average Cost

    From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $500

    Average Cost

    $350

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    Written by Michele K.

    Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

    Published: 12/27/2015, edited: 02/24/2021

    Rectal Itching Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

    Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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    Ask a Vet

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Pomeranian mix

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    Seven Years

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    Unknown severity

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    2 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Irritation & Itching

    My dog has experienced irritation in and off for almost two years on her butt. She seems very bothered and is always licking/scooting. She has been to the vet three times but the treatments aren’t working. Are there other options to tell the vet, or ways I can help her? Because everything the vet has prescribed, hasn’t worked. Thank you!

    Feb. 4, 2021

    Owner

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    Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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    2 Recommendations

    Hi, sorry about that. Has she had her anal glands expressed? Scouting is usually indicative of compacted or full anal glands. If the itching is persistent maybe check for allergies, worms, or wounds around the perineum. For the time being steroids can help ease the itching.

    Feb. 4, 2021

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    dog-name-icon

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    English B

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    Two Years

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    Unknown severity

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    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Itching, Biting Paws, Rubbing Her Bottom On Things

    She does seem to have a corkscrew tail and tail pocket. I was hopeful after the last appointment a few months ago that everything would be better being able to stay on top of everything. I got sick and wasn't able to clean her up for a few days maybe a bit over a week so when I realised I had forgotten to do that she's backI recently started making them homemade food chicken rice and a veggie. I started putting their fish oil in their food. I can see that the skin around her tail is a bit inflamed. How can I go about doing this and caimum discomfort? Do I clean the same as normal?

    Dec. 27, 2020

    Owner

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    Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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    0 Recommendations

    This does look inflamed and infected. I would see veterinary attention as she likely needs prescribed antibiotics and anti inflammatories.w We do need to clean these rails regularly and then dry thoroughly. Saline or dilute chlorhexidine work well to wash. In extreme cases if we cannot get things under control, surgery may be considered.

    Dec. 27, 2020

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    shorkie

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    Three Years

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    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Redness And Slight Swollen Underneath The Rectum And Constant It Hing

    My dog keeps scooting his bum and constantly itching the area underneath his anus which appears to be swollen and looks a little bruised. What should I do, is this a serious matter. He is not in pain but it’s really itchy. He also has patches of what appears to be rash spots on his back, head and stomach that is scabby.

    Dec. 7, 2020

    Owner

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    Dr. Michele K. DVM

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    Thank you for your question. From your pictures, your dog does look very uncomfortable and itchy. He may have parasites, allergies, or a bacterial or fungal infection. There are also glands near his rectum that can become impacted and rupture, and can be quite painful. It would be best to have him seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible, today if they are able to see him. They will be able to check his anal glands, see what might be going on, and get treatment for him so that he is more comfortable. I hope that all goes well for him!

    Dec. 7, 2020

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    Australian Shepherd

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    Ten Months

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    11 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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    My dog has been experiencing a few odd symptoms: (1) lots of licking his butt and scooting on the ground, (2) wet poo, (3) biting at his paws, (4) a small spot above his eye is balding.

    Dec. 1, 2020

    Owner

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    Dr. Sara O. DVM

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    11 Recommendations

    Hello, this may be allergies. You can try Benadryl. The dosage is 1mg/pound. Also changing his diet to a sensitive skin digest would help.

    Dec. 1, 2020

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    Pit Bull

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    Two Years

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    7 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Itching

    My dog is like itching her back on everything the couch the bed its like her butt itches she is not dragging her butt on ground but shes always trying to itch by the butt and every time u pet her she like tenses up like her back got stiff and wants me to scratch it

    Nov. 19, 2020

    Owner

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    Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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    7 Recommendations

    An itchy rump can have a few causes including allergies, fleas, mites or impacted anal glands. She needs to be seen by a vet who can get to the bottom of things. She may well need some prescription medicine such as anti itch medicine and/or antibiotics. We also need to ensure she is up to date with a good quality parasite prevention. Protect her skin by using a buster collar and consider bathing in a medicated shampoo, especially if the skin is pink or scabby.

    Nov. 19, 2020

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    Celine

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    American Pit Bull Terrier

    dog-age-icon

    9 Years

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    Mild severity

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    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    Has Symptoms

    Licking At Genitals

    My dog Celine has had a couple medical issues in the past prior to us adopting her however, everything has been going well and treated thus far apart from her separation anxiety. When left alone she tends to lick her butt for a good 5-10 min at a time at random almost to calm herself then she goes about her day. However when we are home all day with her she never licks her butt. Sometimes when we are gonna she licks it to the point that makes it irritated and red. Our vets have her on Prozac currently but it just continues to happen when we leave. We have tried to have her anal glands expressed but there was nothing in them.

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    Nico

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    Miniature Pinscher

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    10 Years

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    Serious severity

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    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Serious severity

    Has Symptoms

    Excessive Licking
    Excessive Licking, Distressed

    My Miniature Pinscher, Nico, was diagnosed with something similar to Colitis. His anal glands were checked by the Vet and nothing expressed. He was placed on medication for approx 8 weeks. It finally cleared up however, his stool and habits have changed. Since that time he has been obsessively licking his butt. He even becomes angry if you try to stop him. He seems very stressed over this and after each bowl movement he immediately licks. He does this constantly. He has even foregone eating to continue licking. He does have a strange smell now as well. I give him baths and that doesn't calm him either. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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    Heidi

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    German Shepherd

    dog-age-icon

    3 Years

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    Mild severity

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    4 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    Has Symptoms

    Licking

    My dog has been recently in the last week licking her anus and tail area, that area seems more red than normal. There is no sign of fleas or anything else wrong in the area, just the redness. She is on a good diet, normal exercise and monthly flea prevention medicine. She has never had issues in the past.

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    Buster Helms

    dog-breed-icon

    Dachshund

    dog-age-icon

    13 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Moderate severity

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    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Moderate severity

    Has Symptoms

    Licking Of Butt

    My mini dachshund, buster, has always had anal gland issues. He has to have them expressed at dr Boyce’s every 2-3 weeks. He has now started licking his behind constantly. Did not do this before, as I was looking him over I touched where his glands are so lightly and a light lime green/yellowish color liquid came out. His glands secretions are red/brown colors. I am worried he has an infection, it’s Sunday so no vet til morning. Suggestions ?? He is blind now, has been for 3-5 months. But this just started. Help.

    Rectal Itching Average Cost

    From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $500

    Average Cost

    $350

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    Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

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