7 Common Causes of Self-biting in Dogs

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Finding your dog biting itself often seems like an absurd behavior, but this isn’t unusual among canines. 


Sometimes, they chew their paws, tails, or other body parts within reach. Bored dogs sometimes engage in self-biting, which may be likened to humans who unconsciously chew on their nails to keep themselves engaged. 


However, excessive self-biting can signify a serious issue with your dog. 

Why Do Dogs Self-bite?

If you’ve ever wondered what is going on with your dog when it bites itself, one of the following could be the reason for the behavior:

1. Poor Socialization Skills

Puppies are more likely to engage in self-biting due to a lack of socialization. Usually, after their first few weeks of life, young dogs ought to be exposed to normal life. 


This includes allowing the dog to be around other animals, people, and loud sounds. If the puppy remains in its birth spot after several weeks, it finds it difficult to pick up essential skills. 


Some dogs learn self-biting to cope when they feel stressed because they haven’t developed the skills to handle such emotions. 

2. Itchy Skin

If your dog has dry, itchy skin, self-biting may be the dog’s way of seeking relief. This is why you must take extra care of its skin, especially during cold weather. 


You can tell if your dog is chewing its skin for relief by checking for signs of dryness. Look out for dandruff flakes and cracks in its skin. 

3. Allergies

Allergens like mold and pollen from the environment can make a dog’s skin uncomfortable, causing it to self-bite for relief. If you noticed the behavior after changing the dog’s fur-care products, the products might contain allergens.


Other common allergens include those in pesticides or even in dog food. The irritation caused by the allergen can make the dog take to biting. 

3. Infections

Skin infections caused by parasites like fleas can lead to scratching, which then progresses to biting. Hormonal imbalances can also cause skin infections in dogs, and the frustration from the discomfort makes the dog chew on its skin. 


Bacterial infections often appear as tiny red bumps on a dog’s skin or excessive greasiness if it’s a fungal infection. Also, look for ear wax discharge if you suspect your dog has been infected by a parasite or has dermatitis. 

4. Foreign Objects

You know how humans may tug at their skin when it feels like something unusual is underneath it? A dog biting its nails might be doing so because something uncomfortable is lodged in its coat. 


If you notice your dog biting a particular area of its skin, check to see if there’s a foreign object caught there or perhaps swelling. 

5. Injuries

A slight cut in your dog’s coat or paw may cause the pet to bite the area with the hopes of overcoming the discomfort. This is why you should always look for thorns or sharp objects around your dog’s play area.


Tangles between paw pads or in the coat are also a major source of inconvenience to dogs that can lead to severe self-biting. 

6. Genetics

Certain breeds like Dobermans are genetically predisposed to self-mutilation, as some dog parents describe it. Like some psychological problems humans face, dogs could be living with some brain anomalies. 

7. Bad Habits

Self-biting may simply be another bad habit your dog has picked up as a way to vent or show frustrations. Some dogs learn other destructive habits, including barking or gnawing. 


Active dogs that suddenly become understimulated sometimes develop these habits as coping mechanisms. 

What Should You Do When Your Dog is Self-biting?

As established, self-biting in dogs may result from medical or psychological problems. Whichever it is, the behavior has to be fixed. 


If you are sure the chewing is not caused by injuries, allergies, or related problems, it’s time to introduce activities that can help solve behavioral problems. 


Consider improving the dog’s exercise routine to increase mental stimulation or step up its daily activities to give little room for boredom. 


Self-biting in dogs can be a regular occurrence or a sign of a severe health issue. Even canine compulsive disorders can be managed, so there’s no cause for anxiety though. Of course, medications have their role in reducing this behavior but this should be at your veterinarian’s discretion.