Watching our furry friends chase their own tails can be quite amusing. Rooting for them to catch it and seeing the absolute bliss on their faces when they do — ah, happy times! However, chasing the tail can also be a serious issue. While amusing from time to time, if your dog continually chases, catches, and bites its tail, you might have a real problem on your hands. Dogs that are prone to constant and obsessive tail chasing will not stop at a little nip once they catch it. They will continuously bite and gnaw at it, which will result in a severe injury, most often than not and that is why I am going to show you How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail.
So if we see our pups bite their tails, we have to correct this behavior immediately. However, we must also consider that our dogs might be trying to tell us something by chewing on their tails, as this can be an indicator of many conditions and diseases.
But even if it’s just a symptom, tail chewing has to stop as soon as possible. So, how to stop a dog from biting its tail? To be able to address this issue appropriately, we have to determine the cause of it.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail — Causes and Treatments
How to stop a dog from biting its tail is a much bigger problem than determining why it’s doing that. However, finding out the why is, as mentioned, equally important. There are a few different reasons why a dog might go head over heels for its tail and start gnawing at it. Luckily, we can quickly go down the list of potential causes to determine what’s eating at our dog — or what’s making it eat itself.
Anal Gland Issues
Impacted anal glands are one of the most common causes of dogs chewing their little tails off. As most dog owners know, anal glands are essential for the well-being of any dog. Not only is their proper function crucial for health, but they also play a vital role in dog-on-dog social interaction. When you see your pooch sniff another one’s behind, it’s actually sniffing anal gland discharge.
If the anal glands get impacted, they get itchy. Thus, our doggies do their very best to scratch at them — they scoot over the floor or try to gnaw at them. Usually both.
You’ll notice an impacted anal gland quite quickly. Aside from the weird behavior, your dog will also have a very smelly butt.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail to Ease Anal Gland Issues
Even though anal gland issues are relatively easy to spot, it’s still vital that you have a professional confirm the diagnosis. After all, there’s little you can do on your own.
So if you see your dog scooting or chewing its tail, pay a visit to the doggie’s least favorite place — the vet. Make sure you explain the behavior and ask for advice. More often than not, a vet will prescribe medication and other treatment. If the gland is severely impacted, your furry friend will have to receive a round of antibiotics. Once those kick in, the chewing should stop.
If the gland isn’t severely impacted, there’s a chance that it will empty itself. The gland gets emptied every time the dog goes potty. Therefore, minor impaction can be solved quite quickly. In those cases, a vet will prescribe a high-fiber diet. That will make pooping much easier on your pooch, and the anal gland sacks will once again play their nature-assigned role. However, if you’re a seasoned dog owner, you can also solve the problem yourself. If the gland isn’t severely impacted, you can empty it manually, by massaging it with your fingers. Ah, the things we do for our best friends!
Most first-time dog owners are quite surprised when they hear their dogs are allergic to something. Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to the most ordinary (and sometimes inconvenient) things — poultry, eggs, pork, etc. What’s more, they can also be allergic to something from their environment, like plant life, other animal hair, chemicals, mold, etc.
Allergic irritation may cause your furry buddies to chew their own behinds. What’s more, insects like fleas, ticks, or mites can also create an allergic reaction. These little creatures are the most common cause of dogs chewing themselves all over the body (tail included). Not to mention, insect bites can also lead to inflamed skin and other irritation, which is why it’s vital that you treat them, rather than letting your dog chew its way through them. Thus, that’s something you should pay strict attention to.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail Due to Allergies
This particular cause of dogs biting their tails warrants another trip to the vet. Your vet can do an allergy test to determine if your dog is allergic to something. Once you have that information, the best (and only really) solution is to remove the triggers from the environment. Food allergies are the easiest to deal with, as all you have to do is change the pooch’s diet.
As mentioned, various skin issues can cause irritation, inflammation, swelling, and itchiness. Therefore, it’s no surprise that your dogs will see chewing and scratching as the only solution to this problem. While it will provide relief, you can’t chew an infection away. But, because our doggies don’t understand that, we have to stop them from making a bad situation worse. If your dog has allergic dermatitis, neurodermatitis, dermatitis, or stud tail, chewing the tail will make the condition worse. That can lead to severe infections and even sepsis.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail Due to Skin Issues
Again, the solution is quite simple — seek professional advice. Your vet will quickly determine the cause of the infection and treat it with medication. However, because the medication isn’t magical, it will take some time before it kicks in. While you wait, you must do everything you can to stop your dog from chewing its tail (and other affected spots).
To do that, you can try some behavioral tricks that we’ll speak of later in the text. However, if the situation is severe, and your dog has been chewing its tail for quite some time, you may have to get it a cone to stop it from messing with the healing process.
A hot spot is a spot on the skin that your dog has been scratching and chewing for a while. In fact, some of our furry friends are so persistent with their naughty behavior, that they create open wounds on the skin.
You won’t have any trouble noticing a hot spot. Namely, after they chew at it for a while, the affected area will have either matted hair or no hair at all, and the skin will be irritated, red and scabbed. With severe hot spots, there will probably be a lot of blood and puss.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail Due to Hot Spots
Before we dive into figuring out why our dog chose that particular spot to gnaw on, we have to treat the wound. Your best bet is to go to a vet. Yes, a visit to a professional is always a good option. However, you can also treat the wound yourself. Clean it, put antibiotic cream on it, and make sure your doggie doesn’t lick it off. If your dog is a stubborn beast, you might have to employ the good, old cone to stop it from tearing into the wound again.
It’s vital that we know when we have to ask for additional help. If you live in humid conditions, an open wound like that is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If you didn’t catch a hot spot in time, you probably have quite an infected wound on your hands, so to speak. In that case, the best course of action is to go to the vet. They will give you the necessary medications and treat the wound probably better than you could.
Of course, after the wound is treated, try to figure out why your dog chewed on its tail in the first place. That will help you curb that behavior and stop hot spots from happening in the future.
An imbalance of the thyroid hormones might be the culprit when it comes to dogs chewing their tails. Hypo or hyperthyroidism can lead to skin infections. If one develops on or near the rear, your dog will nibble at it to relieve the discomfort. Hormonal imbalance is one of the potential causes of hot spots that we mentioned earlier.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail Due to Hormonal Imbalance
Doing full blood work and additional hormonal tests will help your vet determine whether something’s wrong with your dog’s hormonal system. If there’s an imbalance, the vet will prescribe medication.
Various parasites, such as fleas and tapeworms, may cause your dog to bite its tail. Parasites cause severe itchiness and discomfort. If you don’t see any on your dog’s skin, don’t move on to the next chapter. Parasites are sneaky! Just because you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. That’s especially true if your dog has thick fur, with plenty of hiding spots that fleas and ticks will take advantage of.
Tapeworms can also cause itchiness and, thus, biting of the tail. They release their eggs through the dog’s digestive system. They are relatively easy to spot, as they resemble rice grains. Therefore, if you see something that looks like rice stuck to your dog’s derriere, and you see that it won’t stop obsessively biting at its tail — consider tapeworms as the main suspect.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail Due to Parasites
Fleas and ticks are no strangers to dog owners, especially during warm seasons. Hence, most dog owners know that flea control is vital. Protect your dog from those pesky insects and save its tail from persistent chewing. But pay attention to the reactions your dog might have to the parasites. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva. That means that their immune systems will have more significant reactions. If that happens, pay a quick visit to the vet to see what you should do.
In the case of tapeworms, the medicine of choice is usually praziquantel. It can be taken orally or via an injection. Either way, it’s vital that you follow through with the treatment, and give your dog the full, prescribed dose. Just like with fleas, just because you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean they are entirely gone. A full medication dose will assure the complete destruction of the parasite.
Stress and Anxiety
Tail biting can be one of the repetitive behaviors your dog engages in due to stress, anxiety, or boredom.
Boredom and Attention Seeking
If you leave your dog alone for too long, or if you aren’t stimulating it enough, it may turn to other means of entertainment, such as chasing its own tail. And, once it catches said tail, chewing is just around the corner. That may lead to hot spots and other serious issues.
Another reason why your dog might be chewing its tail is attention seeking. Imagine you’re left in a crate all day. Not only would you be bored out of your wits, but you’d also try to find any way to capture someone’s attention. That’s precisely what dogs do with tail biting.
If our dogs notice that we pay attention to them after they’ve nibbled on their tails for a while, it’s only natural that they employ this behavior in the future when they are lonely, anxious, or just want to play. By constantly leaving them alone, and then paying them the much-needed attention once they chew their tails, you are enforcing this behavior and encouraging it.
Separation Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior, and Excess Energy
Leaving your dog alone can have more significant consequences than just boredom. Your dog might get anxious because it’s alone, or stressed because they think that you’re never coming back. And because our pups might not know how to deal with these feelings, they might engage in an activity that we are less than fond of, such as tail biting.
Obsessive-compulsive tendencies as well as excess energy — all fueled by separation anxiety, boredom, and loneliness — can also cause tail biting.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting Its Tail Due to Psychological Issues
If we, along with our vets, have exhausted all potential medical issues that could cause tail biting — the previously mentioned parasites, skin conditions, and other issues — we have to start looking into the psyche when searching for the cause of tail biting.
Correcting negative behavior is vital when it comes to dogs biting their tails. So, what to do if tail chewing is caused by stress, boredom, or other environmental and psychological issues? How to stop a dog from biting its tail?
Solution #1 — Exercise
There’s a strong possibility that your dog is understimulated and has too much energy. That may lead to tail biting because our dogs simply don’t know what to do with themselves. The most natural solution is to pay more attention to our dogs and their energy levels.
If you see that your dog is getting restless, take it out for a walk or a run. By releasing the pent-up energy, there’s a good chance that your dog will be too tired or simply content, and it won’t engage in negative behavior. Regular walks and playtime are essential for the well being of your dog, and they will impact much more than just tail biting.
Solution #2 — Chew Toys
So you take your dog for regular walks, play with it every day, engage it, and yet, it still bites its tail? Now what? Well, consider investing in some chew toys. Your dog might have a chewing obsession. If that’s the case, you have to do your best to redirect this compulsive behavior to something that won’t hurt it as tail biting will.
If your dog has plenty of chew toys but is still ignoring them in favor of its own derriere, try enticing it a bit. A chew toy or a puzzle toy with some treats hidden inside will do wonders to redirect the dog’s attention from the tail to more appropriate items. Hide some peanut butter in a puzzle toy or smear some on a chew toy to occupy your dog.
Solution #3 — Correcting the Behavior With Positive Reinforcement
Chew toys are a great solution, but if your dog has obsessive-compulsive biting tendencies, the chew toys won’t work on their own. Just like with everything else, teaching our dogs not to bite their own tails takes time and effort.
Pay close attention to your dog. Each time it starts to chew on its behind — stop it. Tell the dog to do something else — sit or lie down — and reward the correct behavior. By stopping the negative behavior and rewarding the positive one, you’re teaching your dog to avoid a particular activity. In this case, that’s tail biting.
You can also use bitter sprays to dissuade your furry friends from gnawing at their tails. That’s an effective tactic, although training the dog to engage in a positive activity instead of the negative is always a better choice than just stopping the harmful action.
How to stop a dog from biting its tail? Be consistent! As with any other negative behavior, consistency is vital. You can’t stop your dog from biting its tail one day and then allow it the next. Also, no matter the cause, you shouldn’t reward negative behavior. Even if a medical condition causes tail biting and you’re tempted to allow a nibble or two to your dog — you shouldn’t. When trying to diminish a specific activity, we have to take a firm stand.
It’s vital that we stop our dogs from biting their tails whenever we see them do it. However, our furry buddies can sometimes be sneaky. They’ll go into hiding and chew their tails in peace, or they’ll wait until we go to bed so we can’t stop them.
To outsmart your dog, put a bell on its collar. That way, when it inevitably starts chewing, you’ll notice it because the erratic head movements will trigger the bell. No more hiding behind the corner for a bite or two for your buddy!
If we know what triggers tail biting in our dogs, we have to do our best to avoid exposing them to it. Whether it’s an environmental, physical, or emotional issue, we have to solve it. Removing triggers along with positive reinforcement will go a long way to resolving the problem of how to stop a dog from biting its tail.
A Few Parting Words
Just like people, dogs differ quite significantly in behavior. That’s why it’s vital that we approach any issue on an individual level. If your dog is biting its tail, figure out the cause and try to find the solution that’s most appropriate for your dog.