A degree of tail-chasing isn't out of the ordinary for dogs: When they feel exuberant and lively, they might let off some energy by chasing their tails. If you notice your dog persistently chewing the base of the tail, however, you should take action. Incessant tail-chewing can signify a medical problem or an obsessive behavior that leads to wounds and infections.
Anal Sac Impaction
Anal sac impaction is often behind dogs chewing on the bases of their tails. Canine anal glands function as territorial scent markers and lubricant for elimination. When anal sacs don't properly empty themselves, they can become impacted. Anal sac impaction is highly uncomfortable; it itches intensely. If you notice your dog obsessively chewing on his tail right by his derrière, he could be trying to minimize the discomfort he's experiencing. Another common sign of anal sac impaction is scooting. If you spot your pooch dragging his behind around on your living room floor, anal sac impaction is suspect No. 1.
If you're concerned about the possibility of anal sac impaction in your dog, set up a veterinary appointment immediately. A vet can properly express your pooch's glands.
A Case of Flea Allergies
Flea allergies can cause dogs to gnaw at the bases of their tails. Likely, more fleas are lurking just above the tail on the lower back, where the dogs can't reach. They might chew at any part of the tail in chase of fleas.
Don't rule out flea allergies just because you don't notice a significant amount of fleas on your pet. If your dog ingests the fleas or flea dirt he's getting his mouth on, you might not see evidence of them. If you believe that flea allergies could be the reason for your pooch's tail chewing penchant, speak to your veterinarian about treatment and a suitable flea prevention option.
Other Itchy Possibilities
An array of health conditions contribute to itchiness that may manifest in chewing at the base of the tail. Pollen allergies, food allergies, mange and skin infections are some possibilities. Neurological damage can be a cause of obsessive tail chewing. Schedule an appointment with a veterinarian immediately. Whether the dog has impaction, infestation or another problem, the vet will lead the way to a solution.
Managing Your Pet's Tail Chewing
Never assume that obsessive chewing at the tail base is harmless. If you ignore the behavior, you could discover one day that the skin right by his rear end is completely raw and sore. Not only can obsessive chewing lead to mutilated, painful raw skin and wounds, it can introduce the possibility of secondary skin infections in dogs.
If your veterinarian determines your dog's tail chewing isn't a medical problem, he'll consider behavioral causes. Giving your pet more exercise often solves compulsive chewing behaviors. Ample exercise is particularly vital for dogs of breeds historically raised to work in tasks such as digging and herding. When these dogs don't receive sufficient exercise, it takes a toll on their mental health and leads to compulsive behaviors such as tail-base chewing, obsessive scratching, aggression, rough play and excessive barking.
Games and stimulating new dog-friendly toys can also frequently minimize or do away with obsessive tail chewing in dogs. If you need effective suggestions, speak to your veterinarian or to a trusted animal behavior expert.