Dogs Chewing Themselves

Dogs chewing around in the house may be considered a behavioral problem, but when the dog is chewing himself, this is an indication of a medical problem or an emotional issue. The issue can be resolved once the root of the problem is discovered and dealt with.

Causes of Dogs Chewing Themselves

Dogs chew themselves when they are bored, but most commonly they will chew on other objects in the house or environment. When a dog is chewing his paws, this may indicate that there is a medical problem affecting him. The problem may be:

  • A skin infection that will cause itchiness (yeast infection or ringworm infection)
  • Allergies, which manifest through itchy skin
  • A splinter that got in the dog's skin (in this case, the dog will chew only on the portion of skin that is affected by the splinter)
  • A wound that is painful
  • Fleas or other parasites such as mites, which cause itchiness; the dog will also scratch and lick his skin
  • Emotional issues such as stress and anxiety, which may be due to a recent change in the pet's environment or due to a disease

Additional Symptoms

Your dog may display a number of other symptoms, which can be indicative of the problem that causes this type of behavior. Watch out for symptoms such as:

  • Scratching, which can mean that the dog has fleas, allergic reactions or a skin infection
  • Rashes, indicative of allergies or a skin infection
  • Watery eyes and sneezing, also pointing to allergies
  • Hair loss, which may point to a ringworm infection
  • Swelling of the area, which can mean that the dog has a splinter
  • Visible wounds or lesions
  • Fleas moving on the dog's body
  • Depression
  • Hiding behavior, which may mean that the dog is stressed
  • Lack of interest in games

Diagnosing Dogs Chewing Themselves

The diagnosis of a dog chewing himself will be made based on the dog's symptoms and by running a few additional tests, which can indicate the source of the destructive behavior. The vet may run blood tests, but will also need a skin scraping test. The dog will be examined for any wounds or splinters.

Treatment Options

The treatment options for dogs chewing themselves may vary, depending on what the vet finds to be the cause of the behavior:

  • Topical ointments (antibiotics, fungicides) for skin infections
  • Oral antibiotics, if the infection is more severe
  • Cortisone cream for allergic reactions
  • Antihistamines to control the allergies
  • Removal of the splinter
  • Treating the possible wounds and lesions, which may also require oral antibiotics to prevent possible infections
  • Flea products if the dog has parasites, and the removal of the fleas from the dog's surroundings
  • Anxiety drugs if the dog has an emotional problem

The dog will be monitored to see if the chewing behavior persists after treating the medical issue.