Q I’ve noticed that dogs with whom my dog has always been friends have taken to sniffing his private parts over the last few weeks. He seems to have taken to them, too — by licking them. Sometimes he even lies down in the middle of a walk to lick. What’s with the sudden preoccupation with his penis? He has been neutered since he was a puppy years ago.
La Jolla, California
Dear Mr. Tully,
A Take your dog to the veterinarian’s office for a check-up. If the interest in your dog’s genitals is new, and it’s specifically about sniffing, other dogs may be picking up on the scent of some kind of infection that you can’t detect. Your dog’s licking further suggests the presence of an infection. He is probably trying to sooth the burning or other unpleasant sensation. A urinary tract infection is high on the list of possibilities.
The vet will probably run some tests and then prescribe an antibiotic to fight whatever “bug” is ailing your dog, and your pet may have to wear a cone for a while, too. That frequent licking is probably only exacerbating the situation.
It’s easy to dismiss a change in a dog’s habits as a behavioral issue. But the longer you delay on what might be a medical issue, the worse the problem could become — and the more costly the solution.