Dogs express many things with their whole body. You will have seen that they communicate very well when they want to “say” something: they wag their tails, and their ears, they change their postures, and much more to make us understand what they want. But sometimes there are indeed gestures or behaviors that are difficult for us to understand at first glance.
As an example of what we are discussing, you may have seen your dog looking very interested in his tail, then suddenly he chases it and begins to nibble it nonstop. Ever questioned why he does it? What communicates with that behavior?
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At Best Pets Lover we want to help you better understand your faithful friend and offer possible solutions to their health and behavior problems through our articles. For this reason, we recommend that you do not stay with the question why does my dog bite its tail? and that you continue reading this article where you will find the most common reasons why your dog may behave like this.
Health issues that cause a dog to bite his tail
When we see that our dog is chewing its tail, the first thing we will have to see is if it is about diseases or physical problems. To find out why my dog bites his tail, you should rule out some of these health problems:
- External parasites: Our dog is probably attempting to remove any fleas or ticks that may be present in that area of the tail itching they cause with bites. Make sure to deworm your dog externally and internally with the periodicity indicated in each case to avoid skin problems and other diseases.
- Wounds: Especially when our friend is a great explorer, he may return from the walk with some skin wounds. He tries to check the skin and fur of his entire body after each walk, so you will make sure that he does not have injuries and if he does, you can heal them. If he has a wound on his tail, he will turn around until he reaches the area of it due to the itching and will try to lick and nibble, it is normal, but we must prevent it from becoming infected and help him.
- Anal glands: Numerous issues, including inflammation, cysts, and other disorders, can develop when the anal glands do not empty as frequently as they should. This will cause great discomfort and pain to your dog in the area of the anus and the base of the tail. For this reason, it will not hesitate to try to scratch itself to relieve itself and you will see it nibbling its tail. What you should do is take him to the vet to have the glands examined and emptied or cured depending on the severity of the problem.
- Skin problems: It may bite its tail and other parts of its body due to some skin diseases such as fungus, scabies, or allergies. Again, the best thing you can do is check the skin in the areas where you see that it bites and scratches and discuss it with your trusted veterinarian to identify the issue and quickly be able to resolve it.
- Herniated discs and other problems of the spine: Dogs can also suffer from problems along the spine such as osteoarthritis, which can occur in all the joints of the dog’s anatomy, including herniated discs and the spine. We must keep in mind that a dog with any of these issues will experience tingling or pain in the affected area. If, for example, the problem is developing in the tail, at the base of it, or the lower back, we will surely observe how it turns to look at that part and nibble it to see what is happening to it.
These are the main physical health problems that can result from tail biting in a dog. We recommend that in case of any symptoms or discomfort that your faithful companion presents, you go to your veterinarian for an examination and the tests that are necessary to find adequate treatment.
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It may be that the fact that your dog is chasing and nipping the tail is a “simple” game. But this will only be the case if you have never seen him do it before or if he has done it a few times long distances throughout his life and without any change in his character. Also, before thinking that it is entertainment, you should make sure that the problems mentioned in the previous section are not the cause of him biting his tail.
You may simply have been very bored for hours and finally opted for this “game”. This is not the most common, since once it starts like this if the cause is not observed and it is corrected as soon as possible, it will not take long to become a serious behavior problem, which we will comment on later in this article. For this reason, if you see that your dog does this, which is like the first step towards a behavioral and mental health problem, do not scold him, but to begin with, you should invite him to do other activities and make sure that he does not get bored or long time alone.
A behavioral and mental health problem
What is usually more frequent is that a dog bites its tail due to a behavioral and mental health problem. What starts as a “simple game” will soon become a serious problem that is difficult to correct if not caught in time.
A dog will begin to chase its tail until it grabs it and bites it, even in serious situations it can injure itself and mutilate itself, due to a case of lack of socialization, boredom, confinement, and abandonment by whoever is in charge of it. Above all, it is something typical in dogs that spend their lives locked up or tied up in the same place. In the end, over time, they must redirect energy and distract themselves however they can, and this is one of the most common ways they do it. This is among the most frequent reasons dogs bite their tails.
This type of repetitive behavior used as an escape route is known as stereotypy and can be suffered by all kinds of animals that are locked up or confined, whether in zoos, animal shelters that are at the top of cases, or in private homes.
But, this problem of biting its tail may happen to your dog and you think that you do not have it in such bad conditions as those we have expressed so far. Of course, a dog can suffer from stereotypy without being in such extreme conditions. But if so, you should rethink what you are not doing correctly with his mental health, since it is likely that he is lacking exercise, routine, socializing with other dogs and animals, among other aspects, and that he is highly stressed.
If you notice that your dog compulsively bites its tail and you have ruled out physical health problems, you should go to an ethologist to help you improve your companion’s quality of life and solve the problem. Remember that, like everything that has to do with health, the sooner the problem is diagnosed and begins to be solved, the better the recovery prognosis will be.
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