Why Do Female Dogs Lick Their Vulvas?

Why do female dogs lick their vulvas?
Why Do Female Dogs Lick Their Vulvas?
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 21 December, 2022


You may have noticed that your female dog sometimes licks her vulva. Lots of pet owners consider this to be totally normal behavior and a sign of a neat and healthy dog, but others consider it to be a bad habit. Keep your dog happy and healthy by paying attention to this type of behavior.

Female dogs (and females from all species!) are fascinating, because they are often fiercely protective, highly nurturing and affectionate. Female dogs do need special attention for their specific needs, especially in regards to their genitals.

Why does your dog lick her vulva? When a female dog licks her vulva intensely and frequently, it can be a sign that something is going wrong in her body. Check with your veterinarian if you have concerns before opting for any treatment.

Female dogs lick their genitals to clean them and also when they are experiencing discomfort in their genital region. Dogs often irritate the vulva by intensely licking it, which causes more discomfort and could cause complications.

What is the vulva and what is its function?

The vulva is the external opening in the female urinary and reproductive system. It is designed to prevent toxins from getting into the body and is also involved in reproduction.

dog fertility

As the vulva is exposed, harmful microorganisms and chemical substances from the external environment can irritate it. This can lead to allergies, infections and complications in the urinary tract and reproductive system.

It is important to notice if your dog often licks her vulva (especially if this is a new behavior), to catch any issues in your pet’s body as early as possible.

-If your dog licks her vulva, do not punish or ignore this behavior.-

Why does your dog lick her vulva?

It is totally natural for dogs to lick themselves, and licking the vulva does not necessarily mean that the dog is experiencing an issue. There are many possible causes for this behavior, but this habit can also be a symptom of a larger problem.

Reasons why your dog licks her vulva

1. Stress

Dogs suffer a lot from stress. It is not uncommon for dogs to be just as restless and anxious as their owners. Some dogs even get stressed from the environment in which they live, such as, the hustle and bustle of big cities.

At its root, stress is an excessive accumulation of tension. All animals, including dogs and people need to find escape valves for their stress. Some dogs bark, some need lots of exercise, and some lick themselves compulsively when restless or stressed.

If your dog licks herself when stressed, you should investigate what is causing her stress.

2. Hormones

Some female dogs have abnormal hormonal levels or autoimmune diseases. These conditions can cause hyperactivity, stress or anxiety. As a result, your dog ends up licking her vulva to calm herself.

3. Infections or inflammations

If the dog constantly licks herself and her vulva has pus, bleeding, redness or swelling, her vulva could be inflamed or infected. Either way, there could be something serious going on with your dog’s body.

If your dog has genital swelling and starts urinating more than usual or in unusual places, she might have a urinary tract infection.

If she is not in heat and her vulva appears swollen or red, she might be suffering from inflammation or an allergy. This is common in polluted or poorly sanitized environments.

If you see these symptoms, take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Microorganisms or bacteria reproduce quickly and any infection could spread through her bloodstream to the rest of her body. It is especially important to make sure that the infection does not reach her uterus or ovaries, as an infection there, could affect her ability to reproduce.

4. Masturbation

Like humans, both male and female dogs masturbate. This is not an evil or perverse behavior — instead, think of it as a natural step in a dog’s sexual development. Just as a human baby touches himself to explore and discover his body, puppies lick themselves.

Little by little, puppies begin to recognize themselves as individuals different from their mothers. As puppies, male and female dogs behave equally and do not yet have a reproductive drive.

female dogs lick themselves
Source: AcousticTrench on Facebook

When a female dog is in heat for the first time — which is one of the most important moments in her reproductive cycle — she is ready to mate. Sexual development ensures survival of the species.

It is normal for dogs to start licking their genitals to arouse themselves at six or seven months old. Your dog is discovering herself and maturing into a sexually active adult.


  • Sant’Anna, M. C., Fabretti, A. K., & Martins, M. I. M. (2012). Clinical approach to canine vaginitis. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 33(4), 1543-1553.
  • Baños, J. C. O., Trujillo, M. Á. S., & Becerril, I. P. G. (2018). Mielotoxicidad inducida por estrógenos de origen ovárico y leiomiosarcoma vulvar en una perra. Comunicación de caso. Analecta Veterinaria, 38(2), 32-37.
  • Olivares, R., & Adaro, L. (2000). Algunas consideraciones anatómicas del aparato reproductor de la perra. TecnoVet, 6(3).

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.