When your dog scratches behind its ear or other parts of its body with its paw, it is cute and normal.
But when the scratching turns to use their own teeth to bite their paws, legs or tail, it can be in excess, but it may not be an innocent itch.
If they do this chronically with loss of hair you have to figure out the cause before it gets so bad it could lead to open sores.
Here are reasons your dog is chewing at itself:
1. Itching Dry skin
Dry skin causes most humans to itch and it is the same with dogs too.
They are most prone to dry skin in the winter, so if all these factors align your dog may have itchy dry skin due to the weather.
The skin of the areas he is biting could be flaky and irritated and he is getting some relief.
To overcome this, you might want to consider a change in diet to promote the production of more skin oils to reduce dry skin.
Or brush your dog’s coat more often to stimulate the production of skin oils.
2. Seeking Attention
Dogs will do what they can to get your attention if you are unintentionally ignoring them.
If they have bitten themselves before and you reacted, they may associate it with a way of getting your attention.
The only way to know if this is the case is to pay attention to your dog and see if the scratching and biting stops.
Spend more time with your dog! Play with him, converse with him, take him on walks.
This along with reinforcing good behaviour should remove the bad habit.
Dogs are genetically predisposed to being in packs which keeps them almost fully occupied.
Dogs being on their own for most of the day when their human is at work can be challenging for them, especially high energy dogs with limited space and activities.
They tend to do almost anything to keep occupied, which includes chewing or biting parts of their body.
To curb this, you should make time to walk your dog before work or/and after so they can get rid of some excess energy.
If your schedule is tight there are professional dog walkers, day sitters or even friends who could walk or keep your dog occupied for a little bit during the day.
Another small tip is using a television or radio to distract your dog while you are away.
If you are worried about the electricity bill then consider stimulating toys first and go for the former if all else fails.
4. Ticks or Fleas
This might be the simplest or easiest guess.
Ticks and Fleas can get on your dog’s fur and can cause discomfort, moving around or biting into the skin.
It is mostly gotten from when your dog makes contact with other dogs, furry animals or items that have these insects.
You would have to inspect your dog, especially where they target their biting most, to see evidence or get a veterinarian to do so.
There are flea and tick powders, shampoos etc that can be used to alleviate this problem.
Dogs have a lot of allergies and it can be a lot to keep up with.
But if your dog does manage to get in contact with something he is not supposed to, it can lead to crazy itching.
The most common place a dog can get in contact with food it is allergic to is the trash can.
There are a number of situations in which they could come in contact with mould or pollen.
They could have entered the water that had soaps or pesticides that caused your dog to react.
You would have to confirm by finding signs of what they did or where they have been.
Afterwards, you can call the veterinarian with your suspicions and start treatment immediately as food allergies can get fatal if untreated.
Ensure you keep your food and the trash secure to reduce the chances of this incident happening.
6. Skin Infection / Hormonal Imbalance
Dog skin infections can be traced to hormonal imbalances from cortisol or thyroid hormones.
This can lead to bacterial or fungal infections that display as red rashes on your dog’s skin.
If you see this physical sign you would need to see a veterinarian immediately.
7. Pain or Soreness
When dogs are in pain in one part of their body, they can inflict pain elsewhere to distract from it, hence the biting of body parts.
Or they could have a small foreign object lodged in their body that is causing discomfort, like a burr or a thorn.
If you do an inspection and none of the reasons listed here seems to fit, then it may be an internal pain like arthritis or in an unseen area.
You would need a veterinarian to run tests and diagnose the problem.
8. Open Wound
Sometimes licking and chewing can be a dog trying to soothe an already open wound he may have sustained from somewhere else.
If you notice the wound, help by cleaning it and keeping it properly dressed.
So your dog feels comfortable and the wound can get time to heal properly without your dog biting at it.
9. Stress or Anxiety
Dogs are known to behave oddly when stressed or feeling anxious for a whole lot of reasons.
From separation anxiety when you go to work or travel, to loud noises that stress them out.
It is important to identify why this happens and implement some solutions.
But one way that is not a solution is to punish or reprimand your dog when he does bite himself.
With these nine reasons, you can be sure to find out why your dog is biting at its paws or tails.
If you cannot get a handle on it alone do call your veterinarian or behavioural expert for help.