Does your dog eat hair? It sounds peculiar, but this can be a very common condition among dogs and cats. While eating hair is not necessarily dangerous or hazardous to a pet, persistent and prolonged hair-eating could cause gastrointestinal issues and is a sign of an underlying problem that merits veterinary attention. If your dog eats hair regularly, discuss the situation with your vet.

Why does my dog eat hair?

The most common reason why dogs eat hair is anxiety. This is how some dogs cope with stress- stress related to changes in their environment, a new addition to the home, or a physical malady that is causing them discomfort. Most dogs that eat hair due to anxiety eat their own hair or fur, chewing on themselves and often causing bald spots on their coat.

There are some other reasons that could explain why your dog is eating hair, including these:

Boredom 

A bored dog will find something to get into- even if it is to eat their own hair. This behavior is similar to dogs that chase their tails or get in the trash; they are bored and entertaining themselves.

Attention 

Some dogs will eat hair off the floor to get attention from their humans. If your dog is eating your hair off the floor, stealing hairbrushes, or gnawing on your hair when you are close, it may be a cry for your attention and time.

Exploration 

Puppies often eat things as a way of exploring the world around them- even hair! Some dogs simply never outgrow the habit of eating hair that they find in their home and environment.

Pica 

Pica is a condition where dogs- or humans- eat things that are not edible, like hair. It could be a compulsive behavior or a bad habit that merits working with a professional dog trainer. If you notice your dog continuing to eat non-edible things, like hair, speak with your veterinary provider.

Allergies 

Dogs with allergies and sensitivities may chew on their coat or eat their fur due to an itch. When they scratch, they may bite or gnaw due to their skin’s condition.

Parasites 

Is it possible that your dog has fleas or ticks? This could make your dog itch, which in turn, could result in them gnawing at or chewing their fur and skin. Make sure to protect your pet with flea and ticks preventatives to resolve this issue.

Why does my dog eat human hair?

Some reasons why your dog is eating human hair could be boredom, development, pica, or a need for attention; it could also be due to allergies, anxiety, stress, or parasites, including fleas and ticks. Most of the time, dogs eat hair due to anxiety and boredom- both of which are preventable! Make sure that your pets are getting ample exercise throughout the day to eliminate feelings of boredom and to prevent them from some of the compulsions that stressed dogs engage in- like eating hair.

The question remains: is it harmful to your dog to eat human hair? Typically, eating hair does not hurt your dog and hair is able to pass through your pet’s digestive tract well.

If you find that this behavior persists or if your pet eats a lot of hair, there could be problems. Hairballs can cause a blockage in the intestines gastrointestinal issues.

Furthermore, human hair is often treated with chemicals, colorants, and products that could be toxic to pets if ingested. If you believe that your pet has eaten toxic hair products, contact your veterinarian right away.

Why does my dog eat his own hair?

If a dog is itchy, uncomfortable, or in pain, they may chew at their coat and fur- which could look like they are eating their own hair. This behavior may be caused by an underlying condition, like an allergy or fleas, or it could be a behavioral issue. Some reasons behind the behavior could include boredom or anxiety.

Biting themselves or gnawing on their fur could be a sign that they are stressed-out. Is your dog getting enough exercise? Rigorous activity can help alleviate many symptoms of anxiety and stress in pets- while also preventing them from becoming bored. Tire them out with daily walks- it is good for both of you!

When dogs eat other dogs’ hair, it is considered a compulsion. This may relate to how the dog was socialized as a puppy and could require the assistance of a professional dog trainer to help. 

Why does my dog eat hair off the floor?

If your dog starts eating other pets’ hair, it could be due to a compulsion. This compulsive behavior may be a result of anxiety or boredom. The truth is that dogs often eat nasty things and hair from the floor is just one of them!

Some dogs will sniff the floor and lick up hair and dust that they find there. While this may seem peculiar, it is how they explore and connect with their surroundings. If the behavior seems out of character or they are constantly doing it, talk to your vet about how to stop this compulsive act and whether an underlying medical issue- like chronic pain- could be the cause of the behavior.

How to stop my dog from eating hair?

Take your dog to a vet if they are persistently chewing or eating their own fur or hair; treatment or medication may resolve the underlying reason why your dog is eating hair. Additionally,there are ways to deter and hinder your dog from eating human hair, too.

Provide your pet with plenty of toys to keep them busy so they do not become bored. A bored pet can sometimes become stressed. Get your pet outside on brisk walks daily. This will not only wear them out but also fulfill their natural desire to explore and sniff everything around them- it may lower incidences of hair-eating when they are back home.

Also, do your part by keeping hair cleaned up off floors and bedding, and make sure that hairbrushes are put away and inaccessible to your dog.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.