Top 3 Reasons Why Dogs Chew and Bite their Tail Until it Bleeds

It’s not always an immediate red flag when dogs bite and chew their own tail. It does become a concern, however, if they are chewing their tail to the point when it bleeds or becomes ‘raw’. Here are the most common reasons that may explain why dogs may engage in destructive chewing behaviors.

1. Presence of fleas and other parasites

Is the dog only chewing his tail and no other parts of his body? This might indicate the presence of parasites on the dog’s tail. The most common being fleas and ticks. The dog may have gotten flea and tick bites around tail. The itchiness could be what’s causing your dog to chew until the tail bleeds.

Have a close look at the tail to see if there are any signs of flea or tick bites. Some dogs may suffer from an allergic reaction due to the insect bites. Watch out for symptoms such as scabs and inflamed skin. Internal parasites like tapeworms may also push dogs to bite their tail as they may cause irritation and discomfort around the dog’s bottom.

Bleeding dog tail

2. Impacted anal glands

Dogs may chew their tail until it bleeds due to impacted anal glands. This happens when the anal glands don’t empty themselves as they normally would. It can happen due to a number of reasons such as when the anal glands get clogged.

You may also notice an unusual fish-like smell from the dog’s body when they suffer from impacted anal glands. Impacted anal glands can make it painful for dogs to poop. This discomfort could be what’s causing your dog to bite their tail.

3. Stress and boredom

Bored dogs will engage in compulsive behaviors such as chewing their tails. It happens when a dog doesn’t get enough mental and physical stimulation. Dogs are social animals. You need to make sure their needs are being met so that they won’t have to satisfy their own boredom.

How to Stop Your Dog from Biting His Tail

The first step is to rule out any underlying health issues that could create a lot of irritation and discomfort around the base of the tail. Make sure there are no fleas and ticks around your dog’s body. Do the same check on the dog’s bedding, clothes, and collar.

A trip to the vet is recommended if your dog shows other concerning symptoms such as acting lethargic and losing appetite. Bleeding and raw tails also need to be treated properly to prevent the transmission of infections and diseases.

If the compulsive chewing behavior isn’t due to health reasons, make sure your dog is getting plenty of attention throughout the day. The dog should have enough chew toys to play with (ideally in rotation) and should be getting enough exercise so that they are happy and tired out by end of day.

Book an online vet appointment if your dog has an emergency but your local vet isn't available. Vetster is available 24/7 for video chat appointments.

Disclaimer: The content on MyPetChild.com is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian when in doubt.

Comments

  • Judith | 07/02/2020

    Hi, Thank you for your article. One of my dogs, Luffy, is biting his tail but instead of in the base, his doing it on the ending, to the point that he exposed the tail bone and almost ate 1.5 inches of it. All the vets says is because of fleas but he is already protected and everything is clean around him. Can this behaviour be because of one of the reasons you exposed previously or those reasson are just for biting the base of the tale. He is almost 10 years old and a mixed bread, looks like a giant Dachshunds.

  • Gwendolyn Scott | 05/04/2020

    this tail biting just occurred when spring officially came. Our grass a little high She has never before bitten an pulled all this hair out from her German shepherd thick tail You can see the actual tail bone. I have checked for fleas. I don’t see any. No vets available because of the covid-19 situation. I am using sulfodene hot spot and itch relief spray. It is so bad I wonder should I wrap the tail up with gauze. Her skin does have a tendency to get real flaky and dry when it starts to get warm weather. I will double check for parasites which she has never had any in the 10 years I’ve had her.

  • Harvey Duane | 13/06/2020

    Is your dog okay now? Im having the same problems with my dog. What can you suggest me to do. Im worried about my dog.

  • Mrs sharon e powell | 02/10/2020

    My staffy has bitten then end of his tail (about 2cm of tail missing ) it was bleeding but now stopped was adviced to fit a buster collar but now my dog is constantly going round in circles try to catch his tail any advice will help

  • Tony | 11/09/2021

    Hi, my name is tony I have a staffy who’s done the exact same thing as your dog and the vet won’t do anything as I don’t work said it would cost 4 hundred quid to have it docked.

  • Lin | 16/09/2021

    Have you tried PDSA? That’s where I had to take my dog during Covid as I was on benefits. You just make a donation of what you can afford. It might be worth having a look if you live in a catchment area. Good luck hope you get sorted.

  • Sylvia | 23/10/2020

    Our 10 yr old German Shepard will spin and bite her tail to the point it is now bleeding . Hers is behavior related , any old noises trigger her . What can I do to stop her ?

  • Sharron Hamilton | 17/08/2021

    My dog bites her tail after she is placed in her pen and I began to drive off. If I drive very slow, she will not bite her tail. She knows that I will put med’s on her tail but she will luck it off. She takes once a month flea meds and a pill for anxiety due to a storm that caused a tree to fall on the electric pole at the house pulling the wires loose and causing a a lot of damage within 5 ft. of her. She has seen the vet in which she suggested that my dog be placed in a small kennel. She is an outside dog and I do not want her in a kennel all day.

  • glenda morgan | 19/10/2021

    My dog is biting the base of his tail and cratching he is biting the base of his tail until it bleeds I sprayed him down with apple cider viniger but he is still acting the same way can you tell me what can be wrong?

  • MR ANDREW COSGROVE | 02/11/2020

    My loving dog has fleas we can’t seem to shift and he’s biting his tail can’t get him to a vet tried many flea stuff for house and him nothing working please help

  • L Jennings | 31/12/2020

    I’ve also got a flea problem with one of my JRTs who constantly chews her tail. We dose her every month as recommended and she saw the vet recently to have her glands expressed but the fleas (only one or two) are a problem we’ve NEVER had before, in the history of 30 years of having dogs.
    It *has* to be the warm mild winter, that isn’t killing them OR a new, hardier strain, but we’re at our wit’s end and so is she, hence the biting. I treat her hotspots daily but without a vet (we’re in lockdown) I just don’t know what else I can do.

  • Kimberly | 14/04/2022

    Do you think that her bedding or areas around the house have eggs or fleas? This happened to my Daughters Cockapoo and what I did was wash the bedding and vacuum baseboards and areas the dog spent time in, and I used a bug digger in the apartment and a spray for fleas around carpet and bedding. I washed and treated the dog for fleas with advantage, and have been consistent every month to dose the pup. As a hairdresser I have learned that it’s not the head louse I need to kill as much as I need to break the egg laying cycle. Fleas are the same. We had a terrible time with this pup until I took over! My Daughter was not following through with complete process and as a result the fleas or eggs never really left. Good luck!

  • mary boyd | 15/11/2020

    I have a 12 yr old chiweenie. I noticed one day that the end of his tail was raw it looked like he had been licking it. The next day it was bleeding really bad. I doctored it and went to change the bandage and half of his tail fell off. What would have caused it?

  • Peter Hooper | 28/12/2020

    My Parsons Russell chews his tail about three times a day, when we are having breakfast, lunch or sitting relaxing. We are the third owner other homes getting rid of him. He turns and grabs his tail and turns into a vicious little fellow, he loves when we have company and cannot stop jumping up at them, but after a while he turns and starts biting his tail, which would appear to be jealousy, we are at a wits end with him. He has been to the vets who have checked his glans and they are fine, any advice please?

  • Carissa Martinez | 31/12/2020

    My dog is a miniature pincher mix. He had his tail amputated when he was 6 months old. It’s a stub now. He’s almost 2 and he is now constantly licking under tail until it turns red, then going after tail until it bleeds. I have a vet appointment on Dec 31 2020. Hopefully its nothing serious that needs surgery. Just glands need expressing or maybe fleas.

  • Sarah | 29/05/2021

    My dog has bitten his tail to where it bleeds. I’ve been cleaning it everyday and putting Manuka honey on it. I have also put a cone on him to prevent him from chewing on it. His anxiety has gotten really bad to the point where he won’t let us sleep. What do I do? He cries and wants to keep biting it.

  • Tom Johner | 23/07/2021

    I have a 13 year old black lab and yesterday when I got home, the wife and I were only gone for less than a hour, I noticed that he had chewed the end of his tail off. He has chewed about a inch or so off now, he has never done this before so why all of a sudden would he do this. What should I do to stop it he has me quite concerned. He will go into another room now and chew at it.

  • Robin Dawson | 09/08/2021

    I have a black lab and this year he has started chewing his tail since my husband and I divorced and more so since we moved into this new place. I’m putting zinc on his tail and hot spots. It just has gotten a lot worse since we moved into this new place. He has no fleas but did have a bad case of dandruff since last spa day. I am at a loss in what to do. There’s been no food change on environment other than the husband gone.

  • Jeff | 19/08/2021

    I’m not sure what to do either. We’ve given our bischon aloe vera on his tail and a cone on his head. The minute the cone comes off he goes after it. Vet put him on Benadryl and still no luck.

  • Mama | 11/08/2021

    My 17 year old Pit mix has been having difficulty walking and squatting to poop. She recently has started having seizures. During one seizure in her sleep, she pooped. Another time, she was walking, had a seizure and fell over, peeing on herself. When she squats to poop, she winds up sitting down. She did this and got poop on herself. This is when she started gnawing at her tail. Despite being bathed, she started licking her tail (about 1/4 of the way down, so not at the base of her tail) I noticed the tail being wet and within an hour, she had it chewed up and bleeding. I put a cone on her and when we take her4 out, the cone comes off. If we do not immediately get the cone back on her when she comes in, she will obsessively chew her tail and lick. I know the end is near and some of her behaviours are like an adult with dementia. 🙁

  • Elizabeth J Carter | 06/09/2021

    I have a 7yr old Shih Tzu that has bitten the end of his tail until the hair is gone and the tip of his tail is bleeding. I think it is an emotional/jealous situation because I have two small children/toddlers that I watch daily. I think he is jealous because I have to attend them often. He has been the baby for a long time. I think its just a jealous thing. He did this once before when my son and his family had to move in for a while, a couple years ago. He is wearing a cone and I have applied DOGMX a Liquid Bandage for fast relief. If I remove the cone he goes right back at the tail.

  • John | 06/09/2021

    Dog, a ‘walker’ was adopted from county shelter…..think the shampoo I used to bathe him may have caused the tail biting which now is incessant, but E-collar is helpful…..he doesn’t want anything put on his wounded tail exposure from his biting…..what to do!! ?? bottom line though, how do I get him to STOP BITING HIS TAIL beyond the e-collar cause once it’s off the biting resumes!! He won’t let me put any ointments of any kind on the wounded areas!! THANK YOU!!!

  • Neno benm | 14/09/2021

    Hey my dog doesn’t have fleas or that but she has recently started rubbing her but on the ground and biting at her tail and the back of her back legs near her anal passage it has got to the point she has cause a wound on her tail we have treated her for worm and fleas but she is still doing it I have dressed the wound but she still is biting and has a rash what is wrong with her. Any advice? thanks.

  • Kathy Arnold | 12/01/2022

    My pitbull female want stop licking and chewing her tail. She has got it bleeding and I think also pussy stuff might be coming out to.

  • Jim Young | 10/05/2022

    Our dog has been biting the base of his tail until it bleeds. He also drags his bum on the carpet. There is no sign of fleas and he has recently been wormed. Could it be glands?

  • Trisha Hatfield | 14/05/2022

    My Chihuahua attacks her tail until it bleeds. Is there a home remedy I can give her?

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