It is not always easy to tell when dogs and cats have a rear-end rash because their tails can get in the way. But if your dog is sitting a little funny or if your cat keeps sitting down to lick her backside, it is worth lifting the tail to take a look.
When rashes result in sore, broken skin, bacteria may take up residence, resulting in a nasty infection, says Terri McGinnis, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in the San Francisco area and author of The Well Cat Book and The Well Dog Book.
In cats, rashes sometimes occur because they are a little too conscientious about keeping themselves clean. It is normal for cats to lick their backsides after using the litter box, but generally it is a "lick, lick -- I'm done" routine. "Some cats, though, get a little carried away, which can break down the skin," says Dr. McGinnis.
Both cats and dogs will sometimes get rashes after a spell of diarrhea or when they have had a hard bowel movement. This is especially common in dogs because of their penchant for chomping bones. When bone fragments pass out in their stools, the pieces can scrape the anal area, setting the stage for rash and possible infection.
Insect bites and stings are a common cause of under-the-tail rashes. So are tapeworms, unpleasant parasites that can irritate the anal area. Any irritation can induce dogs and cats to lick and scratch themselves, and this can lead to a painful rash.
See Your Vet If...
- Your pet has diarrhea or constipation
- There are white specks in the stool
- She has been noshing on bones
- Your cat is licking her backside more frequently than usual
- Your pet's tail is limp
- A discharge from the anus, penis, or vagina has lasted two days or more
- Your pet is constantly licking his back end
- The vagina or anal area is red and swollen
- There is a growth on the anus or genitals
- Urine is dribbling while your pet sleeps
- There has been a change in your pet's urinating habits, or he is unable to urinate
- There is blood in the urine
- He's lost fur on the top or base of the tail
- The tail is greasy or infected, or it is getting thicker
- The anal opening stays open
- Your pet has been scooting for two days or more
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