If your dog has been biting or chewing its tail, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what you can to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog chew its tail? Possible reasons why your dog chews its tail are that it has fleas, allergies, something stuck on its tail, it is a compulsive behavior, injury, anxiety or it might have been just doing it due to an itch.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog chews its tail
Below are some reasons why your dog might have been chewing its tail and what would make each of them more likely.
The reason why it has been biting its tail could be that it has fleas. This would be more likely if you have noticed fleas around the home, if your dog doesn’t only bite its tail and if it has started doing it suddenly.
It might also be the case that your dog has gotten allergies or a rash. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).
When trying to figure out why your dog has been doing it, think about what happened at around the same time that it started doing it. For example, if it started doing it when you changed its shampoo then that could be the cause.
Impacted anal glands
Dogs have two sacs where their anus is that produce an excretion that has a scent that allows other dogs to know its age, sex and health. Sometimes, the anal glands will become impacted which is where the excretion is not able to escape.
This could be the cause of your dog’s tail biting. This would be more likely if it also started to do other things such as to rub its bottom along the ground or to have blood in its poop.
If it does seem like impacted anal glands could be the cause then it would help to take it to a vet.
Something stuck there
The reason why it has been doing it could be that it has something stuck on its tail. This would be more likely if your dog has started doing it a lot, suddenly.
The reason why your dog does it could be that it is an obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is where your dog feels an irresistible urge to do it and it cannot control itself. This would be more likely if your dog has been doing it constantly, it is losing fur and if it has caused itself to start bleeding.
It would also be more likely your dig started biting its tail excessively when something happened that would cause it to do so.
Possible things that might have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
The cause might also be that it has gotten an injury. This would be more likely if it has been showing signs of injury such as fatigue or limping and if it has started doing it suddenly.
If it seems like injury might be the cause, then the best option would be to take it to a vet.
The cause could be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and it becomes anxious when it is left alone. This would be more likely if your dog tends to start biting its tail when you are about to leave and if it acts anxious in other ways as well.
It was just playing
If your dog just did it once then it could be the case that it was just playing, that it was grooming itself or that it was itchy at the time. However, this would be less likely if it has been doing it repeatedly over a short time period.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when it first started
If your dog did not always chew its tail, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as fleas, allergies, a rash or becoming anxious.
What is different when your dog chews its tail
The timing and location would be another thing to consider.
If it tends to do it when you are about to leave then it would be more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it seems to do it at random times then it would be more likely to be due to fleas, a rash, allergies or something being stuck in its fur.
What to do about your dog chewing its tail
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop biting its tail.
Take it to a vet
If your dog has been biting its tail excessively, you cannot figure out why it has been doing it or you can’t get it to stop then the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert guidance tailored towards your particular dog and to rule out medical causes.
It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by doing things such as:
- Washing the dog’s bedding with hot soapy water
- Vacuuming the carpets
- Applying an environmental flee control
- Treating your dog with a monthly preventative
Reduce reasons why it might be anxious
If it seems like it might be doing it due to being anxious, it would help to limit possible reasons why it might be anxious. You can do this by doing things such as letting it out to pee, giving it exercise and letting it eat before leaving it for long time periods and periodically checking up on it if possible.
Avoid encouraging it
Instead of giving your dog rewards when it bites its tail, try to redirect its focus when it is about to do it, to give it distractions before it starts biting them and to reward it when it behaves the way that you want it to.