When your dog starts biting its own tail, it can be scary and frustrating for both you and the dog. The thing is, dogs don’t just start nipping at their own tail for the heck of it.
Indeed, they are doing this for a reason, and once you understand what some of those reasons are, it makes it a little easier to determine what to do about it. In short, there could be medical or even psychological reasons for dogs biting their tails, but the good news is that most of them have easy remedies.
Why Does My Dog Keep Biting His Tail?
Before we get into the solutions, let’s discuss some of the possible reasons why your dog is biting its own tail. Dogs can bite their tails out of boredom, but mostly they do it for one of three reasons, and those reasons are:
1. They Do It Out of Habit
For many dogs, especially puppies, biting their tails has become a habit. All dogs, but again this is more common with puppies, explore the world around them in part with their mouths. Because of this, it isn’t that common for them to bite or nip at their tail to explore that part of their world.
If your puppy continues to do this, try to discourage the habit and maybe give them some extra chew toys. Once your puppy gets used to the chew toys and is well-trained, the habit should become less of a problem.
2. They Are Experiencing Some Type of Irritation
This is one of the most common reasons for dogs biting their tails. If there is irritation anywhere on the dog’s tail, they may bite, chew, or lick it in response.
The first thing you need to do is determine why the skin is irritated in the first place, and it’s usually due to one of two things:
- Grooming – like humans, dogs have natural protective oils on their skin, and when they are groomed, some of that oil is washed or brushed away, which can leave them with skin that feels irritated. They can experience that irritation on any or all parts of their body, which is why you sometimes see them roll around in the grass after a good grooming. They are trying to relieve the irritation. The skin on their tail can also be affected.
- Allergies – dogs can have allergies just like humans can, and they are usually allergic to something in the environment, other dogs, their bedding, toys, or something else. If you notice your dog suddenly biting its tail, think about anything new they may have experienced in the past few days. Did you buy them a new bed or toy? By retracing your steps, you should be able to figure out what is causing the allergies.
3. They Have Had Some Type of Injury to Their Tail
Injuries can happen at any time, especially if you frequently walk the dog outside, where they can be exposed to thorns, bushes, all types of grasses, and even poison oak or poison ivy.
Thorns and bushes can scratch or harm them, and this can result in small scratches or even severe cuts and sores. Because of this, the dog may bite its tail in an attempt to make the discomfort go away.
The best way to avoid this is to thoroughly clean your dog after every walk and remove any debris you may notice on their bodies.
Home Remedies for a Dog Biting Their Tail
Fortunately, there are some effective natural remedies you can use to help your pet stop biting or licking its tail.
Yes, there are over-the-counter products as well, but these are some suggestions if you prefer using natural home remedies instead of something store-bought. They include:
- Rub their skin with apple cider vinegar (ACV). Make a mixture of one part ACV and one part water, then rub it into their entire body, including their tail. It soothes the irritation and discourages them from licking or biting their tail thanks to the bitter taste.
- Rub some baking soda paste into their skin. Use a tiny bit of water to make the paste, rub it on their tail, then wait about five minutes. Afterwards, rinse it off and the irritation should be gone.
- Give them an oatmeal bath. Take some sugar-free oatmeal and place it in a blender, grinding it into a fine powder. Then, simply place it into the dog’s next bath and keep them in there for as long as they let you.
- Rub their tail with coconut oil. Take some coconut oil and rub it into your dog’s skin. There’s no need to rinse it off – unless you want to – and it adds some moisture to the skin. Since a lot of skin irritation is due to dryness, this remedy usually works right away.
As you can see, you don’t have to use products with harsh chemicals in them to relieve irritated skin on your dog’s tail. In fact, it’s usually more effective and less expensive to use homemade remedies instead.
Once you learn why your dog is biting its own tail, it’s a lot easier to know what to do next. Most of the time, dogs are doing this because of skin irritation, which is usually caused by allergies, injuries, or because they’ve just been groomed and some of the oils have been stripped away from their skin.
Fortunately, simple home remedies almost always work, and they include skin rubs with coconut oil, baking soda paste, or apple cider vinegar, or even a good oatmeal bath.