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