Louie didn’t exactly get a “clean” bill of health while at the vet for his annual checkup. He’s as healthy as a 2-year-old Frenchie should be, but apparently I need to help him with personal hygiene. While the vet was doing a flea check, where she ruffles the hair up from the base of the tail, she noticed that Louie needed his backside wiped.
I am aware that Louie can have a messy backside on occasion and have scrubbed at that mess many times. And when he has a bath, I use a washcloth and really wipe him well. The term “mess” is a bit misleading, though, as that implies he’s caked with fecal matter. It’s more like a few very small brown spots here and there in a ring around his bottom. But I wipe them away because cleanliness is good.
What I wasn’t aware of is that Louie also has fecal matter under his tail. Having a tiny little nub, he can’t wag that thing, nor does it move much. It had never occurred to me to actually lift that nub to check under it. I mean, who really looks for poop under their dog’s tail? It’s evident that I do not. I am now conscientious about wiping more vigilantly.
So what’s the big deal if I don’t wipe? That’s a good question. Besides the fact that the dog is dirty and may smell like the fecal matter he’s hiding, the crusty mess could easily cause irritation, his vet says, making a dog drag his backside to itch it away. While a dog also scoots across a floor when his anal glands need to be expressed, checking for crusty messes under the tail is a cheaper and easier fix to try first. (And then, of course, get anal glands taken care of if need be.) If left uncleaned for too long of a period, the irritation could lead to a rash, which could cause more discomfort to your dog.
It may sound easy to clean, but here’s a quick run-down in case you are new to this chore:
Of course you’ll want to lift your dog’s tail to see what’s going on under there. Then take a damp washcloth and wipe well, being sure to get rid of all the dirty matter. Follow up by drying the area thoroughly; the tail may trap moisture, which also can cause a rash. Daily cleaning is good, but at least weekly is probably necessary in most cases. Give special attention when bathing.
If your dog is long haired, you’ll want to use a fine-tooth comb around this area to remove any crusty matter stuck around the base of the tail. Wetting the hair first will help soften any matter and also keep from pulling the hair if you snag something in your comb. Your dog will appreciate this.
Final tip: There is a product called The Stuff that I use on my dogs after a bath. It creates a protective barrier on the hair that helps repel dirt. You can spray it on your dog’s back side to keep fecal matter from clinging, and it will make clean up in the future much easier for you and your dog.