We love our dogs, so when we see them in discomfort, it’s disconcerting. One thing dogs like to do is groom themselves, and part of that can mean a dog won’t stop biting the base of their tail even with no fleas in sight.
While some tail biting is common and harmless, if your dog starts to show obsessive or compulsive behavior, such as excessively chasing or biting on the tail, it’s seldom without a root cause.
Instead of ignoring this or assuming it’s typical dog behavior, it could be a sign of a potential issue. In this guide, we’ll look at all the possible reasons why your dog is biting the base of its tail even though it doesn’t have fleas. You’ll also learn what you can do about it.
Before reading a more in-depth answer to this guide, “Dog Biting Base Of Tail But No Fleas: Causes & Treatment,” check out: Goldendoodle Tail Styles – With Pictures! (2023) and 10 Types of Dogs Born Without Tails! (2023).
An internal parasite that causes dogs to bite their tail is a tapeworm or roundworm. Tapeworms tend to grow when dogs swallow bugs carrying tapeworm eggs. Roundworms are normally passed down from mothers to their puppies or are acquired when dogs eat wildlife or the feces of other animals.
Both types of worms can cause such physical discomfort in the area around the anus that the dog is forced to gnaw at the base of its tail. In addition, your dog might whine in pain.
The most common sign of worms in your dog is the presence of worms in your dog’s feces. The difference between tapeworms and roundworms is that roundworms look like noodles while tapeworms look like small grains of rice.
Dogs suffering from this condition may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss.
What You Can Do
Your veterinarian can diagnose these worms by examining a stool sample under a microscope. The number of eggs or larvae in the stool will give your vet an idea about the severity of the infestation.
Once the intestinal parasite is found, your veterinarian will start a treatment plan accordingly.
A dog with roundworms will be put on an anti-parasitic medication to remove all traces of roundworm. You should also remove all feces from the yard daily and always wear gloves when doing so. The feces should also be put in a plastic bag to reduce the risk of contamination.
For tapeworms, an anti-parasitic will also be given either orally or by injection. These medications dissolve the tapeworms in the intestines. A follow-up fecal exam will still be necessary to check if the infestation has spread or has been resolved.
Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from skin inflammation or dermatitis. Many dogs fall victim to allergies in their environment, such as pollen and household chemicals. The reaction to allergies is most severe in the dog’s early years of life, between the age of three months and six years.
The source of the allergy could also be mites, contact with other animals, and even mold. Just like it’s a human’s first instinct to scratch at an itch, it’s the same for dogs. Some dogs are very sensitive and require extra care and a more careful look into their surroundings.
What You Can Do
Diagnosing allergies is often complicated because of just how many types there are. The first thing your veterinarian may do is rule out any other condition that could be causing your dog’s symptoms.
If they feel an allergy is most likely the cause, an allergy test will be the next move to determine what type of allergy is causing the reaction. Food allergies are diagnosed using an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is when a food trial is given to the dog consisting of feeding one source of protein and carbohydrates for 12 weeks to figure out what food is causing the symptoms.
A flea allergy is easier to determine because you can identify the fleas on the dog’s body and apply a product that kills the fleas before they bite.
An open wound on the dog’s body resulting from repeatedly scratching and chewing is called a hotspot. Sometimes, these spots are mistaken for insect bites. A hotspot will get worse rapidly and spread. This condition mostly spreads due to warmth and moisture on the wound.
If not treated properly, bacteria will find their way to the wound, resulting in a secondary infection. You can recognize these hotspots by seeing the presence of pus, blood, and matted hair.
If you see your dog biting at the base of its tail and it draws blood, then you should know that the infection is not the problem, but a symptom that should be investigated.
The best thing to do in this situation is to get a veterinarian’s opinion to find the root cause, which could be hygiene, nutrition, or allergies. Dogs with thicker coats are more likely to develop hotspots.
What You Can Do
The treatment for hotspots on dogs depends on the severity of the spot. If it is small, then the vet will treat the area with a combination of oral antibiotics, anti-itch medication, and an e-collar. An e-collar will prevent your dog from biting or scratching the affected area.
If it’s severe, the vet will have to find an underlying cause of the problem and treat it accordingly with medications. Some home remedies to treat hotspots are by trimming the area around the spots with dog hair clippers.
This allows air to reach the affected spot and prevents excess moisture from slowing down the healing process. Another remedy is by cleaning the skin with mild, pet-safe antiseptic spray or wipes.
4. Stress or Anxiety
Mental conditions such as stress, anxiety, or boredom could also result in self-destructive behavior. Tearing up shoes or couch pillows are some behavioral problems that anxious dogs might exhibit.
Other behaviors to watch out for are whining, excessive barking, and body posture. Some dogs may start to shed or chew excessively. In addition, your dog may be undergoing separation anxiety.
What You Can Do
Exercise your dog more, and have interactive toys available when you’re not around. Keep your dog tired and happy, and think about calming supplements, aromatherapy, and music during alone time.
If your dog continues to seem stressed and anxious, you can consult with a vet or a behavioral consultant. Anxious dogs are not happy dogs.
Any type of injury in a dog’s rear or hindquarters, like a broken or fractured tailbone, may also lead a dog to try and draw attention to that area. Dogs cannot tell us where or how they’ve hurt themselves so they must direct our attention to the area somehow.
Licking an area that hurts is comforting to dogs as their first instinct is to try to clean the “wound”. They don’t have to ability to determine if the wound is external, like a cut, or internal, like joint pain.
What You Can Do
They will try to lick and clean the area that’s in pain. Sometimes this could indicate that the dog has arthritis in the lower spine, hips, or hind legs. This problem, however, can only be properly diagnosed by a veterinary X-ray and be treated accordingly.
6. Impacted Anal Glands
Another common reason why a dog might constantly bite at the base of its tail is an impacted anal gland. Dogs secrete a unique fluid through their anal glands that other dogs smell when they meet each other, which is why dogs always sniff each other’s butt.
Some clear signs of an impacted anal gland in dogs are constipation, a foul smell coming from the dog’s behind, and in severe cases, blood and pus may be seen in the feces. Some dogs start to scoot their butts across the floor.
What You Can Do
The treatment of infected anal glands in dogs is usually a combination of antibiotics and topical medication administered directly into the anal sac by the veterinarian. Infected anal glands are often painful and sedation is sometimes required to perform these procedures.
In rare cases, dogs with these infections require surgery to remove the affected part of the anal gland and sacs. If the infection is minimum, you may apply a warm compress to the anal area every 12 hours for five to seven days.
To avoid impacted anal glands, you can have a groomer or vet express them every few months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Besides fleas, your dog can have itchiness on its tail due to allergies, an injury, or its anal gland.
Benadryl can help a dog with itchy skin, but it’s crucial to consult your vet and use a safe dosage.
Not all dogs need to have their anal gland expressed, but those who do should have it done every three to four weeks. If you notice your dog scooting or hunching over strangely, it’s probably time.
Conclusion for “Dog Biting Base of Tail But No Fleas: Causes & Treatment”
Although fleas are a pest, they are not responsible for everything! There are several reasons why your dog is constantly biting the base of its tail, so keep a close watch and seek treatment if necessary.
If you find this guide, “Dog Biting Base of Tail But No Fleas: Causes & Treatment,” helpful, check out:
- 7 Sickle Tail Dog Breeds With Pictures! (2023)
- Poodle Tails: To Dock or Leave Naturally? (2023)
- 10 Types of Dogs Born Without Tails! (2023)
Learn more by watching “My Dog is Constantly Scratching and Biting Himself” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
Why Trust We Love Doodles?
At We Love Doodles, we’re a team of writers, veterinarians, and puppy trainers that love dogs. Our team of qualified experts researches and provides reliable information on a wide range of dog topics. Our reviews are based on customer feedback, hands-on testing, and in-depth analysis. We are fully transparent and honest to our community of dog owners and future owners.