As simple as they are, dogs are equally pretty complex creatures. With them, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between behavioral patterns and actual medical conditions. Take the case of tail biting, if you have been asking yourself lately why ‘my dog keeps biting his tail’, though it could be undoubtedly amusing at first, it could be a tell-tale sign of a deep-rooted issue. The compulsive and repetitive biting and gnawing of the tail is an obvious cry for help and always has a root cause. It would profit pet owners to be conversant with them and for that reason, here are all the dog chewing tail causes.
Stress and Anxiety
Some people may not know this but dogs, like humans, have the ability to experience stress and anxiety. What could possibly stress a dog out? Being apart from their owners for extended periods of time, or equally being confined to one space for a long time can cause these creatures to practically lose it. This could lead them to manifest a whole lot of destructive behavior such as chewing slippers, tearing up a pillow and soiling themselves. While some dogs take it out on their immediate environment, others internalize these actions and take it out on themselves. One way of internalizing this destruction is by biting or gnawing on their tails.
Additionally, dogs that are not physically or mentally stimulated on a regular basis could start engaging in tail biting. Just like human beings, they can get bored and the occasional run in the park or frisbee session could help keep them on their paws. All in all, giving a dog the adequate amount of attention could help alleviate a whole lot of stress and in the long run, eliminate destructive behavior such as tail biting and gnawing.
Again, just like humans, dogs can have aversions and allergies; allergies from food, environmental factors you name it. A common tell-tale sign that your dog is experiencing allergies of some sort manifests itself in the form of tail biting. On the environmental front, things such as pollen and even cleaning agents could have adverse on your pet. Then in terms of food, it could be wheat, carbs, vegetables and even some forms of protein. Additionally, they could equally be reacting to parasites such as fleas and ticks which result in allergic inflammation.
Also, your pet could be reacting to actual products you use on them such as shampoo and other hygiene product, the list is endless. All in all, there are a range of things that could set your pup off and get them misbehaving. To better know what is specifically ailing your pet the best option is to visit your vet. A basic allergy test could easily be used to determine exactly what kind of allergies your dog is suffering from. All the gnawing and biting is most likely a way for dogs to alleviate the discomfort caused by itching and inflammation.
Impacted Anal Glands
Yes, it is as horrible as it actually sounds because impacted anal glands are no joke. In the canine world, anal glands are quite important body parts. Not only are they indicative of their health, but they are also a vital social tool. Sniffing each other’s behinds is a way for them to know more about themselves. The same way humans shake hands and exchange pleasantries, canines give off secretion of fluids back there for their counterparts to sniff on whenever they meet.
So, back to the tail biting, a dog biting at the base of his/her tail is a clear indicator that their anal gland is impacted. This is such destructive behavior and the biting could even lead to bleeding in the anal gland. Apart from the biting, there are other signs that are indicative of your pup having an impacted anal gland, and one of them is scooting. If he/she repeatedly sits and drags their butt across the ground, then it is highly likely that there’s something going on in their nether regions. In addition to that, if they are constipated or start spotting blood or pus in their stool, then something is definitely wrong. Finally, having a more putrid smell coming from their hindquarters is also a major pointer. So, if your pet is tail biting and has any of these accompanying symptoms, then the issue is with the anal glands.
As much as they are loved, dogs can pretty much be a danger to themselves; be it intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes, for one reason or the other, dogs repeatedly scratch themselves, they even chew and bite till the skin is broken. It could be as a result of fleas or some other external influence, nevertheless, the results are pretty much the same. If they live in places that are warm and humid, the areas with broken skin are highly likely to turn into hot spots. Unfortunately, it does not end there, since these hotspots form in temperate, humid environments, the dogs affected are prone to infections once bacteria is introduced into the mix. The time frame for this is not very long and as such, bacteria creeps in long before it can be properly attended to.
So, what does a hotspot look like exactly? It is mostly characterized by an area with matted hair, a bald spot and/or bloodied and pus-filled skin. Also, the presence of scabs and discolored irritated skin is a clear indicator that your pup has a hotspot. How exactly does this link to tail biting? Well, once a dog has formed a hot spot, a whole cycle of chewing and gnawing begins. So, if one is located on the tail, then that could be the reason for all the tail biting.
Parasitic infestations are quite common in dogs and pets that have fur in general. At some point, every dog owner has had to deal with one form of parasite or the other, be it fleas, mites or ticks. Thankfully, this affliction has become easier to treat over the years with the introduction of medicated collars and prescription medication to the mix. Despite their treatability, these infestations can wreak a whole lot more havoc than just the occasional itchiness. Some dogs and even cats can experience allergic reactions to the saliva present in the bites of the parasites and best believe that they will make attempts to alleviate the sensation.
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Most times, there’s a lot of biting, chewing or scratching going on in an attempt to either rid themselves of the parasite or simply alleviate some of the discomfort experienced. The situation is even more grave when a dog has an undiagnosed flea allergy because they will continue to gnaw at their skin in a bid to have some relief. So, the constant tail biting could be as a result of a rogue allergy. Additionally, canines that are suffering from a tapeworm infestation would most likely experience some sort of discomfort in their anal region. This could lead to tail biting in a bid to get rid of the uncomfortable sensation.
Humans get bored, dogs get bored and funny enough, both species can develop some destructive habits in lieu of that. But while a human may have a lot more control and possibly fall asleep, tap their feet or do some other mundane activity to pass the time, dogs can go from a level 1 to 100. They have a whole different way of expressing this boredom and one of them is to incessantly gnaw at and bite their tails when they do not feel stimulated enough. In human beings, this usually manifests itself as obsessive-compulsive disorder and it does not bode well with our canine friends for the most part of it. Over time, it could lead to more destructive behavior that may cause them to injure themselves.
Take the tail biting for instance, it could become so incessant that your pet breaks the skin and incurs infections afterward. The one sure way to prevent this before it even becomes a thing is to simply provide engaging activities for your pup to partake in from time to time.
Trust hormones to make a perfectly calm dog go on the fritz, in some dogs any form of hormonal imbalance could be the root cause of some destructive behavior. In the case that a dog’s system is not producing enough of the thyroid hormone or making the right amount of cortisol, the results could be negative. It could lead to a handful of superficial skin infections that will in no way bode well for your pet. This, in turn, leads to them biting or gnawing at the affected area and if that area is located somewhere on the tail, it is enough reason for them to gnaw at that too. The bitten areas tend to develop bald spots over time and then the cycle of biting and chewing is bound to continue. A sure way to know if your pet’s hormones are on the fritz is to visit the vet.
The truth of the matter is that most behavior that pets exhibit is encouraged by their owners. Based on this, positive reinforcement could often backfire in the worst way possible. It is no secret that a dog chasing his/her own tail can be a humorous sight, any positive reaction on your end could act as positive reinforcement. The right or even wrong kind of attention could cause a dog to continue acting a certain way. So, a simple laugh, or even eye contact when your pup is biting his/her tail could be the reason they continue to do it. This is tricky ground to tread on, but all pet owners need to be aware that any form of encouragement and in some weird cases, rebuke could have their dogs gnawing on their tails just for the attention.
It may seem counterproductive to inflict more pain on oneself while already experiencing pain, but this is a coping mechanism for dogs. In most cases, the pain may not even be located anywhere near the tail region but biting down on it could be a way to deal with the pain. With dogs who are experiencing pain in the hip or any other skeletal-related pain, tail biting is a common outlet. Also, in cases that a dog cannot actually communicate that he/she is experiencing intense pain, they attempt to draw attention to themselves by engaging in some good old tail biting. In addition to all this, if there is any fibrous tissue left over after your dog undergoes a tail docking procedure it could result in nerve pain and furthermore inflammation. Hence, some tail biting may occur. Once you suspect that your pet is experiencing any form of intense pain, heading to the vet for an X-ray is the one sure way of either diagnosing it or simply ruling it out so you can look for other causes. So, sometimes this destructive behavior is actually a literal cry for help.
Sometimes, an action such as tail biting is simply just tail biting. For puppies, anything can become a game, they are just that innocent. They perceive everything in their immediate environment, including themselves as some sort of plaything, put there for their constant entertainment. It is honestly a joy to watch because practically anything could become an object for them to play with. It could be a fallen petal, hanging jewelry, a moth flying by or even the laces on your shoes. Based on this, it is in no way surprising that they could find their tail interesting, in fact, they may go as far as to think that it is a toy rather than a valued body part.
Occasional tail chases may end in the capture and nibbling of their prize and the cycle goes on and on. In most cases, this is something that they will eventually grow out of as they become more aware of their bodies. They also move on when they discover new and more intriguing things to play with.