You have guests at your house and suddenly you watch your dog biting on herself. Things start to get really embarrassing. You then question why is my dog biting herself?
Well, we will answer just that in this article. You will also learn:
- 5 Tips To Stop Your Dog From Biting Herself
- 15 Reasons Your Dog is Biting Herself
- And more…
Why Is My Dog Biting Herself?
If your dog is suffering from allergies, parasite infestation, or even boredom, he can start biting himself. Dermatitis can also be a reason for self-biting in dogs. If your dog bites himself excessively, dry skin can be the reason. Biting and chewing are also signs of hormonal imbalance.
- Why Is My Dog Biting Herself?
- Why Is My Dog Biting Herself? Top 15 Reasons
- 1. Food Allergies
- 2. Seasonal Allergies
- 3. Fleas and Parasites
- 4. Mange Mites
- 5. Skin Infection
- 6. Stress and Anxiety
- 7. Boredom
- 8. Dry Skin
- 9. Hormonal Imbalance
- 10. External Pain
- 11. Soreness
- 12. Psychological Reasons
- 13. Nutritional Deficiency
- 14. Damp and Matted Fur Causing Lice
- 15. Teething Process in Puppies
- 5 Tips To Stop Your Dog From Biting Yourself
Why Is My Dog Biting Herself? Top 15 Reasons
Let’s now get into the crux of the article and answer your question.
1. Food Allergies
Food allergy is one of the common reasons for an itchy dog. If they have a food allergy they will constantly chew and bite on their paw or tail area. If your dog does this, it means it’s time for you to change its diet.
According to Dr.Catherine Barnette, DVM at VCA Hospitals, the most common foods dogs are allergic to are kangaroo, lamb, chicken, and beef meat, and other things like corn, soy, and wheat.
You will have to check for a few weeks if the allergy is from a particular food and then make the necessary changes in your dog’s diet. You can also check with a veterinarian.
Apart from this, refrain from serving these 30 food items to your dog.
2. Seasonal Allergies
“Pet allergies are more common than you think. About 10 percent of dogs have allergies”, as reported by Dr. Sandra Diaz, assistant professor of dermatology at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.
Seasonal allergies may show up on your dog’s skin causing skin irritation and if not treated may lead to skin infections. Biting or scratching is one of the most obvious signs of seasonal allergies in dogs. The extreme skin irritation will ultimately lead the dog to bite herself on the affected area.
According to Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis, DVM, some common seasonal allergens in dogs:
- Flea saliva
- Mold spores
As per the AKC, If you observe itchiness, redness, and irritated skin with the seasons, it is an indicator that your four-legged friend is having seasonal allergies which then causes him to bite himself to get rid of the itch.
3. Fleas and Parasites
The most common reason for dogs to have itchy skin is parasites and fleas. Your dog itches and bites himself to get rid of the ticks, ear mites, and fleas. These parasites breed in warm and moist places thus, the area under the belly and the tail are a perfect breeding spot for them.
According to Dr. Tammy Hunter and Dr. Ernest Ward, flea allergy dermatitis is one of the most common causes of allergies in dogs that causes itching. When these fleas feed on the blood, they leave behind some amount of saliva on the dog’s skin. The antigens in the flea saliva then cause the itch in dogs.
Flea allergy dermatitis is most common between age 2 and 5 in most dogs, although it can also develop at any age.
If your dog is sensitive to other allergens like pollens or dust mites, it will likely be sensitive to flea bites too.
If you observe a flea infestation or an allergy due to parasites getting out of hand, please call your vet immediately to get it treated.
4. Mange Mites
As per researches by Dr. Amy Panning, mange is a skin disease caused by mites. There are two types of mange mites; the first one is sarcoptic mange that are mites that live on the surface of the skin and demodectic mange that are present in hair follicles of dogs.
The signs and symptoms of sarcoptic mange in dogs include:
- Patchy hair loss
- Crusty sores on the skin and skin irritation
The signs and symptoms for demodectic mange in dogs include:
- Lesions on the body
- Scaly and dry skin
- Hair loss
- Skin redness.
If you observe any of the following symptoms that cause your little pet to relentlessly bite himself, then you should visit a vet.
Check out this video by Dr. Becker who talks about mange mites in dogs and how to treat them.
5. Skin Infection
If your dog is constantly biting or scratching himself, he might be having a skin infection. According to PetMD, some of the common skin infections include:
- Yeast infection occurs when there is a yeast overgrowth around the ears and toes
- Folliculitis that is causes bumps, sores, and scabs on the dog’s skin
- Impetigo which are puss-filled blisters seen in puppies
- Seborrhea makes the dog’s skin greasy and causes flakes or dandruff which makes them itch
6. Stress and Anxiety
Like humans who bites their nails and shake their feet when stressed, dogs tend to chew or bite on themselves. Thus, if you see your dog just restless due to a loud sound or an uncomfortable surrounding, they might bite themselves to seek comfort.
Dr.Debra Horwitz, DVM at VCA describes one of the common signs of anxiety in dogs that is separation anxiety. It occurs when your dog gets extremely anxious when left alone. This causes them to draw their attention inward again to seek comfort which causes them to bite themselves.
You can take a look at the video below to relieve your dear dog from separation anxiety.
If you do not provide your dog with enough mental stimulation, it is very likely that your dog will chew and bite himself. This occurs because your furry friend finds this as a way of releasing all the energy that is accumulated in him.
If this occurs too often, your dog may end up bruising and infecting his own skin causing further complications.
According to research, dogs are neophiliac, meaning that they seek novelty easily, therefore toys should be rotated for maximum enrichment – preferably with quieter activities mixed with high-energy ones.
Dog enrichment activity does not necessarily have to entail complicated puzzle toys, rather it must be fun for your dog and fit your dog’s particular needs in order to be helpful to his or her health and well-being.
8. Dry Skin
Having dry skin is a major issue when it comes to dogs biting on themselves. If your dog is not getting enough fatty acids from their diet, they are unable to maintain a healthy dog coat.
Thus, researches by Dr.Robin Downing show that the lack of fatty acids from Omega 3 and 6 causes your dog’s skin to turn flaky causing an itch.
Dogs are not able to manufacture essential fatty acids naturally and therefore it has to be provided in their diet. According to Dr. Downing, other signs of essential fatty acid deficiency are:
- Scaly and dry skin
- Loose skin with low elasticity
- Dog’s fur mat easily
- Ear infections may occur
To deal with this make sure you include these fatty acids in the form of fish oil and flaxseed supplements for your little pet, Also, make sure to keep talking to your veterinarian about every step you take to help deal with dry and itchy skin.
Check out this video that talks about different ways you can implement to treat your little pet’s dry skin.
9. Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalance can be caused by thyroid dysfunctions, low cortisol levels, or an imbalance in hormones related to reproductive functioning such as estrogen and androgen.
It can manifest as itching on the surface of your pet’s skin. According to Pet MD, alopecia, and dermatitis are two skin and hair disorders that are caused by an imbalance in your little pup’s hormonal levels.
Get this checked with a veterinarian for more information and detail.
10. External Pain
When dogs are experiencing any kind of external physical pain they are very likely to bite themselves. This is especially true when you try to touch that area causing them more discomfort and pain.
For dogs, biting and chewing on the area temporarily numbs the pain providing them with some relief.
A way to examine this is to look at the area that they are nibbling on. If it is near their paw then there is a possibility that they may step on a thorn or nail. If you observe this then you can check for the objects in their paws.
According to PetMD, sometimes compulsive chewing or liking can also be due to an underlying orthopedic condition like arthritis or hip dysplasia in dogs. AKC states that hip dysplasia is caused due to many reasons like genetics, improper nutrition, lack of exercise, and so on.
If your little pet strains or sprains its little leg playing or running around, it might tend to get sore. To deal with it your dog may constantly give that area more attention by chewing or biting it. Soreness may also occur due to features, injuries, dislocations, or ligament trauma.
If you see your dog suddenly limping, constantly chewing itself, or swelling in a particular area, you should talk to your vet immediately.
12. Psychological Reasons
If you do not shower your little pet with a lot of attention and do not spend time with them, they are likely to feel alone and depressed. To deal with this, they may start chewing on themselves to either get your attention or to deal with your lack of attention.
A study in Science showed that when pet owners looked into their pet’s eyes, the levels of oxytocin rose up to 130% in dogs and about 300% in humans. This just goes to show how much effect good quality time with your pet can have on both yours and the well-being of your pet.
Thus, make sure you spend quality time with your little canine pet so that they do not feel left out and depressed and they don’t end up chewing themselves due to lack of love.
13. Nutritional Deficiency
Your dog needs the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, proteins, and minerals to live a healthy life. If it doesn’t get these, it leads to skin reactions and problems that cause itching. According to Vetericyn, the 3 main sources of nutritional deficiencies in dogs are
- Not enough food: It is important to give your little pet enough food according to the ratio of portion to weight.
- Malnutrional food: Giving your dog food that contains preservatives and artificial flavors might spark up an allergic reaction in them.
- Digestive diseases that prevent absorption of nutrients: Digestive diseases manifested in symptoms like diarrhea, skin rashes, and irritation, lack of energy are often due to a poor diet that needs to be corrected.
The National Research Council’s nutritional requirements for adult dogs recommends the following daily recommended allowance for the healthy maintenance of your dog:
- Protein: 25g
- Fats: 13.8g
14. Damp and Matted Fur Causing Lice
If you take your dog out in the rain and do not wipe them properly with a dry towel after, their fury skin becomes a breeding ground for lice. This causes itchiness and skin irritation causing them to chew on themselves.
Make sure that after every bath, you thoroughly wipe them dry to prevent the occurrence of lice and skin irritations.
15. Teething Process in Puppies
Puppies begin to teethe at around 3 weeks of age. At this point in time, their mouth and gums hurt. To tackle this problem they may incessantly chew on toys and themselves to somehow stop the pain. This chewing and biting behavior usually subsides as they grow older.
If this doesn’t happen you should talk to your vet and find out more details and reasons for the same.
5 Tips To Stop Your Dog From Biting Yourself
Now that we have looked at all the possible reasons for dogs to bite themselves, let’s help you out with a few solutions for the same.
1. Remove and Treat Parasites and Fleas
To treat fleas you can firstly begin with using a flea comb.
Once you get all the visible fleas off your dog, you can then wash your little pet using flea and tick shampoo . This will mostly help you in getting rick of fleas and flea eggs and your little pet will stop chewing itself eventually.
To treat parasites infections talk to your vet. They might suggest some kind of dewormer or anti-bacterial gel treat the skin irritation on your pet. To prevent parasites, you can also use natural bug repellant on your dog.
2. Healthy Diet
A healthy and nutritious diet is an important step in reversing your dog’s self-biting behavior. Make sure you feed your dog a mix of wet and dry food-filled it with all the required nutrients.
Talk to your vet for a more detailed dietary plan for your little four-legged friend.
3. Using Medication
There are over-the-counter medications that are used to treat skin rashes and irritations in dogs. However, it is suggested that you talk to your vet and they depend on the intensity of it, they will give you a prescription for the same.
4. Physical and Mental Stimulation
One of the very basic ways to curb your dog’s self-biting behavior when there is no underlying condition present is to provide them with mental and physical stimulation.
You can play with them outdoors with toys to keep help them release their energy and get their physical workout.
Also, giving your dog chew toy directs their attention from chewing themselves. It is also good for teething pups.
5. Proper Grooming
Grooming your dog every 4-6 weeks is good for their physical hygiene. It also reduces the growth of bacteria and yeast on their skin. This might also reduce the self-biting habit in your dog.
You can get your pet professionally groomed or can do it using a good grooming kit to make sure your dog looks neat, presentable, and stays healthy.