3 Things to Do When Your Dog Bites His Tail Until It Bleeds

Dog Biting

Dogs love chasing their own tail, but some dogs have a tendency to chew and gnaw at the base of it. Sometimes, they’ll even do it to the point where it starts to bleed. The lacerations could become infected, and generally, this is a behavior you’ll want to discourage.

Here’s what you need to know about why dogs bite their own tails, and how you can stop them from hurting themselves by doing it.

Why Does My Dog Bite His Tail?

Tail biting is generally classified as a compulsive behavior, which dogs continue to engage in consistently. In severe cases, they can inflict serious injuries on themselves, with their teeth creating lacerations that bleed and are prone to infection. There are several underlying reasons that cause this abnormal behavior in dogs.

External Parasites

Tail biting behavior often arises as a response to itching and discomfort caused by parasites, usually arthropods like fleas and ticks. These parasites cause allergic reactions at the bite site, with itching and burning sensations associated with histamine release. The dog bites in an attempt to scratch at the affected area and relieve the discomfort, which can cause the bites to bleed. In some cases, tapeworms causing itching around the anus can also lead to a dog chewing at the base of their tail.

If fleas or ticks are causing your dog to bite their tail, the best way to get them to stop is to treat them with medicated shampoos and other products that remove the ticks or fleas.

Other Allergic Reactions

Dogs can also develop dermatitis on their tail from various environmental allergies, including pollen, household cleaning chemicals, mold, or dust mites. Some dog shampoos can also cause dermatitis in dogs with sensitive skin.

Hot Spots

Hot spots are places on a dog’s body where repeated chewing and biting has led to an open wound, which can develop a secondary bacterial infection that causes further discomfort, and as a result, more chewing. If you’re not sure what the root cause is, your veterinarian can help you figure it out so you can treat it.

Stress or Boredom

Emotional stress and anxiety can also lead to compulsive behaviors like tail biting. Even boredom can lead to it. This is often seen in dogs that are crated for long periods of time during the day, without enough mental stimulation and room to move around. If your dog is chewing on its tail because it’s stressed, you may be able to eliminate the behavior by making sure your dog’s getting enough exercise and enough entertainment.

Impacted Anal Glands

Another cause of tail chewing is an impacted anal gland. This condition arises in dogs when their anal glands – which secrete smelly fluids used in social signaling – don’t empty themselves normally. This can occur if the duct is clogged, or if the anal fluid is unusually thick.

Signs of an impacted anal gland- other than tail chewing – can include scooting, foul odors, and in some cases, visible blood and pus in your dog’s bowel movements. If the gland is impacted, you or your vet may need to express it manually to push out the fluid.

How to Stop Your Dog From Biting His Tail

Identify and treat the underlying cause

Fleas, dermatitis, and impacted anal glands can all cause your dog to compulsively bite and chew on the base of their tail. If there’s a clear cause, treating the problem will generally stop the tail biting. You may need to let your vet take a look to help you diagnose the problem.

Remove behavioral triggers of tail biting

If the tail biting behavior is related to boredom or stress, you may be able to identify your dog’s triggers. For example, some dogs may chew their tails when they’re crated, or in response to a distressing stimulus like a doorbell ringing.

Provide your dog with safe toys to chew on

Chew toys, Kong products and other treat dispensers, and rawhide can all provide your dog with something safer and healthier to chew on.

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.

22 Comments

  1. Judith February 7, 2020 at 6:23 am

    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.

  2. Gwendolyn Scott April 5, 2020 at 2:48 am

    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.

    1. Harvey Duane June 13, 2020 at 2:07 pm

      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.

  3. Mrs sharon e powell October 2, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    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

    1. Tony September 11, 2021 at 7:52 pm

      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 07517524083 text me or you find out how to cure it please many thanks

      1. Lin September 16, 2021 at 8:29 pm

        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.

  4. Sylvia October 23, 2020 at 12:23 am

    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 ?

    1. Sharron Hamilton August 17, 2021 at 5:54 am

      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 causinga a lot of damage within 5 ft. of her. She has seen the vet in which she suggested that my dog be placed ina small kennel. She is an outside dog and I do not want her in a kennel all day.

    2. glenda morgan October 19, 2021 at 6:56 am

      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?

  5. MR ANDREW COSGROVE November 2, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    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

    1. L Jennings December 31, 2020 at 7:36 pm

      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 she 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.

  6. mary boyd November 15, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    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?

  7. Peter Hooper December 28, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    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?

  8. Carissa Martinez December 31, 2020 at 5:15 am

    My dog is a miniature pincher mix…he had his tail amputated when he was 6 months old..its a stub now…hes almost 2 and he is now constantly licking under tail til red then going after tail till it bleeds..I have a vet appointment on Dec 31 2020..hopefully its nothing serious for surgery..just glands need express and maybe fleas…..

  9. Sarah May 29, 2021 at 3:59 am

    My. Dog has bitten his tail to were it bleed. I 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

  10. Tom Johner July 23, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    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.

  11. Robin Dawson August 9, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    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 zink 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 and husband gone

    1. Jeff August 19, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      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.

  12. Mama August 11, 2021 at 3:28 am

    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. 🙁

  13. Elizabeth J Carter September 6, 2021 at 12:22 am

    I have a 7yr old ShitZu 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.

  14. John September 6, 2021 at 11:23 am

    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 oinments of any kind on the wounded areas!! THANK YOU!!!

  15. Neno benm September 14, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    Hey my dog doesn’t have flees 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 advise thanks

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