Many dogs chase their tails, which is a seemingly harmless activity that many people find amusing. If a dog goes on to chew its tail, however, it could be indicative of health problems. Some dogs chew so aggressively that it results in bleeding. If you find your dog indulging in such behaviour, you should seek advice from a veterinarian.
Dogs that chew their tails until they bleed often do so to allay existing pain. Opening up existing wounds or skin irritants risks further infection and serious injury. Stopping your dog from chewing its tail aggressively can help preserve its health and put your family's mind at ease.
Dogs that chew their tails may be infected with fleas. This is particularly true of dogs that chew aggressively at the base of their tails. Some dogs are allergic to fleas so any bites result in an allergic reaction and unbearable itchiness. Use a flea comb through the fur of your dog and see if it brings up any fleas. Your vet will be able to recommend treatment methods to get rid of dog fleas. In addition to treatment, keep your house clean by vacuuming your carpets frequently.
Some dogs chew at their tails if it is injured and infected. and the injury is causing them pain. If fleas do not appear to be present, examine the area of chewing and contact your vet if you see any evidence of a cut or general redness. Infection should clear up given the right treatment regimen.
Neuromas are benign tumours made from a thickening of nerve tissue and skin fibres. Some dogs chew their tails due to the presence of neuromas around the area of the tail. This is especially common in dogs that have tails docked. Neuromas typically develop near the base of the tail area and can cause significant pain. Dogs that chew the afflicted area do so in an effort to rid themselves of the irritation. Neuromas can be removed by surgery.
In some cases, dogs may chew their tails out of compulsive behaviour issues. Tail chasing and chewing are common traits in young puppies, and some dogs simply don't outgrow these habits. Mental impairment can afflict older dogs, leading to the appearance of compulsive habits such as excessive tail chewing. Other dogs may chew their tails out of mental anxiety, if they are fearful or anxious about something in their immediate surroundings.
There are many treatments for fleas and skin disorders in dogs. Consult your veterinarian who will be able to recommend treatment for your particular breed. If you think your dog is chewing its tail due to mental anxiety, try to identify the object of fear in its environment. You can also try engaging the dog in play activities when it resorts to aggressive and prolonged tail-chewing. Giving a dog plenty of outdoors exercise and letting it play in the park with other dogs may help it break its compulsive behaviour patterns through distractions. Avoid corporal punishment; this is likely to increase its fear and exacerbate chewing.