Dogs don’t follow human etiquette. They have no problem doing things that we find embarrassing or downright disgusting, including licking their testicles.
It’s natural to wonder why your pooch has such a love affair with his gear. You may also wonder what you can do to get them to stop licking themselves, particularly when you have company over.
Why does my dog lick his testicles?
Your hanging out with your pooch. Suddenly, you realize that they are licking their testicles very enthusiastically. Why do dogs lick their testicles?
Grooming is the most common reason for a dog licking their testicles. This is a normal dog behavior, and nothing to be concerned about. You do want them to keep themselves clean, after all.
If they are simply grooming, the licking will be momentary. They won’t lick themselves obsessively.
Boredom is another reason your dog may lick his testicles. Just like humans, dogs get bored when they aren’t provided enough mental and physical stimulation.
Like human children, they will find something to entertain themselves. Licking is a comforting behavior for dogs, and it gives them something to do. Dogs who are often bored may become obsessed with licking because it’s a distraction from boredom.
Another sign of boredom is destructive behavior. When your pooch is bored, they will engage in behavior they normally wouldn’t. This can lead them to chew items that are off limits. Some dogs will also dig when bored, regardless of whether they are inside or outside.
A bored dog will also seek your attention. They may rub against you or bark excessively. They may also be hyperactive, because they have pent-up energy.
Stress or Anxiety
It may seem strange to think about your pooch being stressed or anxious, but it can happen to dogs just as it can to people. The triggers are different, but the basic feelings are the same.
When your dog is stressed or anxious, they may lick themselves as a self-comfort mechanism. Some dogs will lick themselves in many areas, but some will choose one area to lick excessively.
If you suspect your dog is stressed or anxious, you’ll need to watch for other signs in addition to licking their testicles.
Signs of anxiety in dogs include excessive drooling or panting, peeing or pooping in the house, excessive barking, and destructive behavior.
Dogs don’t have first aid kits. When their skin becomes irritated or injured, they lick the area to keep it clean. If your pooch’s testicles become irritated or scratched, they will naturally lick it to care for it.
Allergies are another reason your dog may lick their testicles. Allergies can cause skin irritation, which we know leads to licking. Because the testicles are exposed, they can come into contact with environmental allergens. This can cause a rash, which your dog will lick.
Anal Gland Problems
Dogs have an anal sac on each side of their anus. When they poop, the glands secrete a fluid that provides information about the dog and helps identify them. It’s their version of a signature and a Facebook profile.
These anal glands can become impacted. This causes the fluid to build up, which causes pain. Pain will prompt your pooch to lick the area. Even though the anal glands are the source of the pain, they will also lick the testicles, because they are close by.
Epididymitis or Other Infection
Epididymitis is an infection of the epididymis, which is a small tube at the back of the testicle. Epididymitis or other types of infections in the testicle or penis can prompt your pooch to lick them excessively. It’s their natural instinct to lick anything that causes them pain.
Other signs an infection is the cause of your pooch’s inappropriate licking include redness or swelling of the testicles, redness or swelling of the penis, and testicle pain.
Is it normal for a dog to lick his testicles?
Yes, it’s completely normal for your dog to lick his testicles. As mentioned earlier, it’s how they clean themselves. Just as a human male washes his testicles, your dog will lick his testicles to keep them clean and healthy.
However, it’s not normal for your dog to lick his testicles excessively. If they are spending an inordinate amount of time licking themselves, or the area is becoming red and irritated, this is abnormal behavior.
How to get my dog to stop licking his testicles?
It’s perfectly normal to want your pooch to stop licking his testicles. How to do so will largely depend on why he’s licking them in the first place.
Normal Testicle Licking vs. Problematic Licking
If your pooch gives himself an occasional lick, it’s best to leave him be. If he gets overenthusiastic, simply redirecting him may be the answer. However, he may think you are rewarding him for licking himself, which is the last thing you want.
If the licking isn’t problematic, it’s best to simply ignore it. You can also train him to lick himself when he’s alone, rather than with an audience.
The clearest sign the licking is problematic is irration of the testicles. If they look red, chapped, or otherwise uncomfortable, you may have a problematic licker.
The other sign your dog’s licking is problematic is that they do so obsessively. If your pooch is licking their testicles often or doesn’t want to stop once they start, this is problematic licking.
Finding the Cause
The best way to find the cause of your dog’s licking is a trip to the vet. How you and your vet handle treatment will vary greatly depending on the cause.
However, a vet visit will give you a clear answer as to what the problem is, and what you can do about it if there’s a physical cause. If there’s no physical cause, then you can focus on fixing the underlying behavioral issue.
If boredom is causing your pooch to lick their testicles, it’s relatively easy to fix. You’ll need to provide them with more physical and mental activity.
One way to do this is with regular play and walking sessions. These provide your pooch with both physical and mental exercise.
Puzzle feeders and toys are another option, particularly when you can’t interact with your pooch. A puzzle feeder allows your dog to manipulate the toy in order to get treats or kibble. This is a good way to entertain their mind.
Lastly, you may consider allowing your dog ot watch television. They don’t see TV exactly the way we do, but they can view the images on the screen.
Some dogs show more interest in TV than others, but most seem to enjoy it. Dogs prefer shows with other dogs or prey animals. You can even find dog tv channels.
It’s perfectly fine for your canine companion to watch TV. However, it should never be a replacement for other types of mental and physical activity.
Anxiety is a bit tougher to treat. In some cases, you may be able to identify and fix the underlying cause of the anxiety. In others, you’ll need to help your pooch cope with the stress.
Keeping your schedule and routine as normal as possible helps. It’s important to spend quality time with them, and do not scold or yell at them for bad behavior. This can increase their anxiety.
Some owners find essential oils or pheromone blends helpful for calming anxiety. Others turn to dietary supplements like CBD. If your pooch has severe anxiety, you can speak to your vet about prescription anxiety medication.
Simple skin irritation can be treated at home. Coconut oil, cocoa butter, and Shea butter are all safe to use on your pooch’s testicles. They can moisturize the skin and soothe irritation.
Paw wax, like Musher’s secret, can also be applied. This provides a barrier between your pooch’s testicles and the elements, just as it does when used on their paws.
If the allergen can be avoided, that’s the best course of action. If they can’t avoid the allergen, they may require allergy medication.
Paw wax or Shea butter may help prevent reactions by providing a barrier between the allergen and the skin.
Anal Gland Problems
The most common anal gland problem is simple impaction. In this case, the glands are simply over full and need to be expressed. You can do this yourself if you are brave enough.
To start, lubricate your index finger with Vaseline. Gloved, of course. Insert it into your dog’s anus. Place your thumb on the outside. Bring the thumb and finger together, and run them up and down the side of the anus. Placing your thumb on the outside of your dog’s anus. They should be found at about 4 and 8 o clock.
Once you’ve found them, squeeze gently with your thumb and finger to milk or express them. Glands vary from pee to plum size, and from soft to firm, depending on how full they are.
If you prefer not to expose yourself to your dog’s anal fluid, your vet can perform the procedure for you.
If your pooch has an infection of their testicle or other reproductive organ, it’s a serious matter. If you notice redness and swelling of the testicles or penis, get your pooch to the vet soon.
If they are having difficulty walking, seem to be in severe pain, or have a fever, they will need immediate veterinary care.