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.

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10 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

  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 ?

  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…..

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