Many, if not all of us, have seen a dog chasing its tail in circles or a dog chewing tail. It might be an amusing sight to see, but what does it mean when a dog is chewing or biting its tail? Does it merely say that the dog is having fun, or does it have underlying issues? Usually, a dog bites or chews on its tail to remove fleas and ticks.
In some cases, it is possible for a dog biting its tail until it bleeds, or a dog chewing the hair off the tail for reasons the dog owner might not know like OCD. If you are here with a concern like “My dog keeps biting his bum and tail,” this article will help you learn why it is behaving that way and what you should do to help your dog.
To know more about how you can stop this tail chewing behavior, click on this link: Is your dog biting tail? Learn how to stop it. There, we discuss the methods and steps to stop your dog chewing tail habits in detail.
Why should your dog chewing tail be a concern for you?
It is not unusual for dogs to chew on their tails sometimes. This behavior becomes a concern when the biting turns from “dog chases and bites its tail sometimes while playing” to “dog chewing tail raw.” Persistent chewing of the tail may cause infections, which will be challenging to heal and mend.
If a dog owner does not check this habit and allows the dog to bite its tail until it starts to bleed, the skin on the tail will tear and get contaminated. The worst-case scenario is; your dog might need to cut off its tail to stop the infection from spreading to other parts of its body. This situation would be unfortunate for both the dog owner and the dog.
The following topics of this article will discuss the reasons why your dog is chewing its tail. We will also briefly skim through how to prevent this behavior from turning into a compulsive habit.
Reasons for your dog chewing tail behavior
If your dog is chewing on its tail a little too frequently, you will need to find out why. Getting to the root of the problem will have to be your number one priority so that you can stop your dog from causing further damage to itself. Given below are some reasons why a dog may be chewing its tail:
Existence of parasites
Parasites are living organisms that feed off another living organism for survival. Two types of parasites may be feeding off your dog’s body, and they are external parasites and internal parasites. Your dog chewing tail raw is a common symptom of an external parasite infestation on the tail.
Fleas and ticks are the most common external pests and cause a lot of problems for many dogs and their owners. Getting rid of fleas and ticks is not that difficult once you identify it as the root cause behind why your dog is chewing its tail.
Some dogs are allergic to the saliva of fleas and ticks. Even after getting rid of the parasites, a dog biting tail until it bleeds and starts to hurt is standard behavior to relieve themselves from the itch that the fleas and ticks leave behind.
After you get rid of the fleas and ticks and treat their bites, your dog might still chew on its tail. The reason for your issue,” my dog keeps biting his bum and tail even after I exterminated the parasites,” is that there might be tapeworms near the dog’s anus. A dog will chew at the base of its tail because of the discomfort tapeworms cause.
As mentioned in the previous point, some dogs get allergic reactions to a flea or tick bite. Severe flea and tick allergies cause a dog to have adverse reactions if it comes in contact with a dead flea or tick. These external parasites cause inflammation on the skin and even dermatitis due to which the dog chewing tail becomes a common occurrence.
Dogs, especially young adults and puppies, are prone to getting allergies from environmental allergens like dust mites, mold, and other animals and their dander. It is a dog’s first instinct to scratch on allergic reactions, which is why dogs chew on their tails if they get allergies on that part of the body.
Your dog might react with allergies to some cleaning products. Some shampoos and soaps might not suit them and cause dry skin or allergies. If the dog already has an active allergic reaction, these products may intensify it.
Uncomfortable hot spots
Dog owners should know what precisely hot spots are so that they can identify them on a dog’s body. When a dog scratches on a body part for too long, it creates an open wound, which becomes a breeding area for bacteria and infections. These open wounds are called hot spots. They thrive in a moist and warm environment.
The failure to treat hot spots will lead to more infections and provide bacteria with the best breeding conditions. Secondary infections will only make hot spots worse. Identifying hot spots on a dog’s body is easy; a patch on a dog’s body which has bloody, matted hair is a clear sign of a hot spot. The presence of pus is another hint of the existence of a hot spot.
When humans are under stress or feel anxiety, they act in strange ways, like biting their nails or tugging on their hair. For dogs, when they feel stressed and anxious, one common reaction to distract or comfort themselves is to start chewing on things around it.
If there is no chew toy or thing to chew on, dogs resort to chewing themselves. Usually, the places an anxious dog chew is the tail and paws. A dog chewing the hair off the tail is a symptom of a stressed or anxious dog. If a dog has separation anxiety, it may chew on its tail to keep itself distracted while you are away.
In some cases, even bored dogs chew their tails to keep themselves busy. Some dog breeds are very active by nature, and if they do not get the required amount of exercise, they start to show signs of boredom. The consequences a bored dog has is immense; they may become hyperactive at home and show destructive behavior.
Broken bones and other injuries
If a person breaks or fractures a bone, or sprain an ankle, they can verbally voice their pain out and get it checked. Dogs cannot tell their owners that they broke a bone because they can’t talk. The only way they can get their owner to notice their injury is by whining or chewing on the pain.
Your dog chewing tail might be because it has broken a tail bone or suffered a tail injury of some sort. Any problem with the hind legs will also cause the dog to chew on their tail to get your attention. You will need a vet’s aid and expertise to check if your dog has a broken bone using the help of x-rays.
In case the dog does not chew its tail, the dog owner would not know that something is wrong with it. The failure to treat any injury may make matters worse and add secondary issues on top of the primary problem.
Anal gland problems
Anal glands play a vital role in a dog’s life. They are responsible for secreting scents through which other dogs can know about that particular dog’s health, sex, and age. That is why dogs like to sniff each other’s behinds.
If the anal glands malfunction, that is similar to a person losing his or her identity. Dogs may start to chew their tails and around the base as a result of anal gland problems. If left untreated, this problem may cause the dog to excrete pus and blood along with their feces.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and learned behavior
Some dogs may have OCD, and the dog chewing tail might be the human equivalent to washing hands. OCD is an observed problem, and symptoms include tail and fly biting, as well as tail chasing.
Dog owners who fail to stop their dog chewing the tail behavior should not be surprised if it continues to exhibit the self-damaging behavior even in its later years.
If your dog’s thyroid gland is malfunctioning or if the cortisol amount in the dog’s body is over the limit, it may contract skin diseases that spread to the tail. The dog may gnaw on the tail to find relief from the discomfort.
Should you use a dog chewing deterrent to stop a dog chewing tail?
There is no harm in using dog chewing deterrents to stop tail chewing as long as the spray is not harmful to the dog. If your dog is chewing its tail out of habit, boredom, anxiety, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, chew deterrent sprays might be the only answer to help you in stopping the dog chewing tail problem.
You can find several alcohol-free, and non-toxic dog chew deterrent sprays in the market. Some of the best dog chewing deterrent sprays are:
- Grannicks taste deterrent for dogsPetsVV anti-chew spray
- Pets Are Kids Too anti-chew spray
- Fooey! Anti-chew spray
All the products mentioned above are available on the online shopping website, Amazon. Dog owners must remember to buy deterrent sprays that are not harmful to the health of the dog. Also, check if the dog has any allergic reactions to the chew deterrent spray.
Home remedies for dog biting tail because of hot spots
Hot spots can be a significant source of pain and discomfort for your dog. Dogs will bite their tails if there is a hot spot on it. Dog owners can try some home remedies to cure hot spots before requiring to spend time, effort, and money on visiting the vet. Some natural yet effective home remedies to treat hot spots are as follows:
If the hot spot on your dog is small or mild, giving it an oatmeal bath will effectively cure the wound. This type of shower is very soothing to the skin and also helps to keep it moisturized. All you have to do is grind the oatmeal into powder and add it to your dog’s bathwater. Some people add Epsom salt to the oatmeal bath because that ingredient also helps with itches.
If your dog likes to drink its bathwater, you should refrain from adding the Epsom salt. Ingesting Epsom salt will make your dog go through a terrible spell of diarrhea and add another problem on top of the dog chewing tail problem.
Teabags as cooling packs
Another natural home remedy to treat hot spots is using a teabag. The only thing to keep in mind is that the tea should be black. The use of herbal tea will not be useful as it does not contain the antibacterial qualities that black tea has. This antibacterial property will help to keep the wound dry, as moist and warm conditions are where hot spots thrive.
Calendula tincture spray
Another effective remedy for taking care of hot spots in dogs is spraying calendula tincture on the open wound. This treatment has cooling and soothing effects on the skin and fights hotspots as well as other skin problems like dermatitis, flea and tick bites, and sunburn.
The home remedies for dog biting tails, as given above, are so effective that shaving off the hair around the open wound is unnecessary. However, if you notice your dog to have a fever or behaves lethargically after getting a hot spot, you might want to take it to the vet and get it checked. Also, if the hot spot starts to produce pus or bleeds profusely, it will be in everyone’s best interest to visit the doctor and get advice on how to proceed.