As human beings, we tend to scratch or rub ourselves whenever we feel irritated or itchy.
And if the irritation occurs in places we cannot reach with our hands like the spine, we use a stick or a brush or get someone else to scratch our backs.
But when we talk of dogs, it is different. Dogs lack the coordinated intellect to tell their fellow dogs they need scratching. They do not even have hands to scratch their skins whenever the irritation occurs.
As a result, they opt to chew, lick, or even bite themselves to ease the irritation. This explains why your dog is itching like crazy and chewing himself uncontrollably. Of course, when chewing happens, he is left with disturbing pale-red-hotspots.
Well, for a start, you have to know that mild chewing habits are quite common in dogs. However, compulsive chewing, is not only harmful to your dog’s health, but an unusual behavior in dogs.
And no one wants that to happen, right?
5 Reasons Why Dogs Chew Themselves
Dogs are exposed to so many allergies, including food allergies that might cause itchiness in the rear end; pollen allergies that result in scabbed skin or itchy eyes; or even allergies to certain medications. All these allergies triggers will undoubtedly cause skin itchiness among other symptoms.
Pain and injuries
Sometimes, your pet may be hurt by a thorn or an object during one of his runs in the garden. And since he cannot communicate that to you, he results in chewing that part of the body that is hurt, and if it’s a thorn, it will be his paw pads trying to remove it.
Here is my take on this one. Every time you spot a weird habit, especially like the one we have discussed in this section, have a quick inspection at home. He might be suffering and silently communicating to you that he needs your immediate attention. Also, have a habit of checking on him regularly.
Infestation by parasites like fleas and ticks
Sometimes, parasites attack your dog, causing itchiness and irritations from the bites. Unlike ticks, fleas are microscopic, which means you can barely see them. That way, they might be operating behind your radar. Therefore, ensure that you use our recommended dog shampoo to bath him regularly to keep fleas and ticks off his skin.
Boredom or anxiety
Do you see the way you twirl your hair or even bite your nails when bored or anxious? Well, the same case applies for dogs. They will chew their tails or lick their coat whenever they get worried about something. As a result, I recommend you get him toys to play with to prevent incidents of boredom.
Now that you are aware of the whys, let's get into the nuts and bolts on how to stop a dog from chewing himself.
How to stop a dog from chewing himself
Seek Professional Intervention
We are all guilty of buying over the counter medicine. The self-medication habits. Sometimes we even extend this to our pets.
But have you ever considered the chances that the over the counter medication is not safe? That the prescription for the dog is off? The possibility that the doses will be more harmful than resolve the underlying problem?
Well, not all the medication is safe.
It is because some drugs like antihistamines react differently to certain dogs. Some will feel drowsy, while others become hyperactive. That’s why consulting a veterinarian before buying any medication is essential.
After all, he is in the perfect position to prescribe the right medication for any underlying issue. In this case, a form of anti-itching product for the hotspots, antibiotics, or even syringes, for severe cases.
By doing so, you will have eliminated guessing. And your dog will be healthy again in the shortest time.
If the itching is as a result of parasites in the house, consider cleanliness. It is said, cleanliness is next to godliness.
Carry out a thorough cleaning to get rid of parasites
It is very typical for parasites like fleas and ticks to invade a house with pets.
So, whenever you notice parasites on your canine’s skin, carry out proper cleaning of households and the dog himself.
Consider doing the following;
In your regular house cleanup, you can vacuum the carpet once in a while, upholster the furniture regularly to avoid infestation, and frequently clean his bed. If at all you have other dogs or cats in your house, consider doing the same.
Use a soft flea comb to comb his fur. Whenever you comb your dog’s neck and tails (where fleas tend to hide a lot), you may have noticed black or brown specks that resemble pepper flakes. These are flea poop, commonly called flea dirt, which by combing, you will be removing. Well, you should know, even other dirt will be let off the hook.
Bath your dog regularly. Of course, bathing is a must. But for a dog with skin irritation, you will have to be extra-cautious. Meaning, if your dog already has sores, use prescribed shampoos. Also, look-warm water will help him cope with the cold. In case it’s too much for him to handle the bathing, consider getting your vets advice on the appropriate alternative to bathing.
Let’s say you are clean. But the problem persists. I suggest you shift your focus to the diet.
His itchiness and chewing behavior maybe as a result of food allergies.
So, let’s get into it.
Check on your Dog’s diet
Did you know that food allergy adds up to 10% of all allergies that happen in dogs?
Your dog may also have a food intolerance, which is different from food allergies but also causes irritation and itching.
Therefore, it is essential to take note of the foods that make him allergic.
I can guess what you’re about to ask right now; how will I know which dog food is allergic to him?
Here is your answer.
Definitely, there is a particular dog food for food allergies that you can feed your dog.
So, the only way to determine the type of food allergen is to introduce your pet to a new kind of food that he has never eaten before.
After some time, slowly introduce his former diet one at a time and note which one irritates him.
And since the dog will react in days, you will be better positioned to know which diet to eliminate.
If the above procedure does not cut it, remember, we started by emphasizing on getting a professional opinion.
Now, what if it’s not food?
Relieve your dog’s stress and anxiety
In many cases, anxiety builds itself when your dog is stressed, craves for attention, or even when he is in fear of something.
So, to avoid this, the following ways will significantly be of help:
Buy him toys to play with whenever he is bored or anxious
Give him your undivided attention. By this, he will feel loved and appreciated
If you have a busy schedule, consider hiring someone to take your dog for a walk or a play
Also, for the love of your canine, you can budget for another pet to give him a company
But just in case this does not work, you have to make your pet stop chewing himself by force.
I understand that may sound like a gate pass to use crude weapons, but that it’s not the case here.
So, let me guide you how.
Forceful means of stopping a dog from chewing himself
If the chewing habit is not as a result of external causes like illness, it is just a hobby to him, you need to take a different approach.
Therefore, as a pet parent, here are variety of ways in which you can prevent this habit.
Here is the rundown;
- Use Elizabeth collar around your pet’s neck. The collar can be either plastic or fabric, depending on which one you prefer. We all know how goofy this one looks like. But it is one of the most effective and forceful method to train his mind from keeping off biting himself just because it’s satisfying.
- Using a bitter spray on the area where he chews himself often. By this, he will resist chewing his tail whenever he feels like.
As a responsible pooch parent, you should be sharp-eyed of different kinds of behaviors he is showcasing. In this context, make it a routine to regularly check on him for any sores, injuries, or even visible hotspots.
Use the tips we have outlined in this article on how to stop a dog from chewing himself, but above all, consult with your most respected veterinarian.
Remember, unlike humans who can make their own choices and even use spoken words to express their needs, dogs don’t have such luxury. They rely on us. So, be his mouth and a watchman as he is to you.