What could cause my dog to bite/pull her own hair out?
The title pretty much says it - my dog, Chewy, has been biting and pulling the hair out on her front arms. Her name was given before this problem started. :)
It's not every day, and I cannot find a pattern but about every week or so I'll come home from work to chunks of hair pulled out around the house (normally all in the same area where she was laying), or wake up to what sounds like carpet being ripped out, which is an awful sound.
This has been happening for probably a year and a half.
About my dog
She is about 2.5 years old and is a Chow/Lab mix. She is honestly the nicest dog I have ever been around and NEVER gets aggressive (I only mention that because I know it is common for Chows to be aggressive/protective).
She was fixed as soon as she was old enough.
What we've done/tried so far
Keep her hair trimmed (especially around her arms/paws) because we thought that the length might be bothering her (and if it were shorter she might not be able to bite it as much). This had little to no effect.
Taken her to the vet, several times. The vet thinks Chewy has anxiety issues, which I agree with completely. We've tried a couple of different medications, the latest being Amitriptyline HCL, but haven't had any luck.
We've moved 3 times since we've had Chewy, which I think has contributed to her anxiety of being in a new place. However, we've been at our new house since July 2014 so I would hope that wouldn't be an issue now.
She also has a fascination with being under things. Coffee tables, end tables, chairs, our bed, anything she can fit under, she'd rather be under it. She sleeps under our bed every night, and is under our coffee table in front of me as I type this. I've read this could have something to do with feeling protected.
I should also mention that she isn't shy at all. She has no issues with people or people coming over, etc.; she greets anyone and everyone pretty much immediately. That is why I am unsure about her feeling "unprotected" when she is always under something.
I am not 100% sure that Chewy has allergies, but she might. When she was a puppy, our vet told us that she might have allergies and suggested we switch to a grain-free food. She's been on grain-free food ever since, although we aren't too particular when it comes to treats, etc., not having grains. She doesn't appear to have allergies to me (but I am not a vet and she hasn't been tested for allergies to my knowledge).
I've also considered the fact that she might have dry skin, which could cause itching and thus her biting her arms. She honestly isn't bathed very often. She's an indoor dog but we really only bathe her when she absolutely needs it (i.e. gets muddy outside). I'm wondering if she needs to be bathed more often, possibly with a shampoo that can moisturize her skin?
Here is what her arm looks like right now, you can see the baldness (this is her left arm), although it doesn't look that bad right now:
Has anyone ever seen or heard of a dog doing this before or have any ideas/suggestions that we could try to get her to stop?
I'm wondering if there is a sensitive, yet moisturizing shampoo I could use, and then bathe her more often (once a week or so) if that might make a difference. I'm just looking for ideas of things to try!
You could try a raw diet for your dog. I am not an expert in dogs or raw diet but I have talked to experts on raw diet and read a lot about it and it seems to cure/help with a lot of issues in dogs. I am not saying it will cure whatever this is however it will lead to a healthier dog overall. I have my GSD on raw right now, started when she's 9 month old. Her coat is great, good energy, white teeth and never have the need to goto the vet
Can you tell us about her daily routine? Is she getting enough exercise? Some dogs chew out of boredom and frustration (which is a different type of anxiety). Just a thought!
I think that may be part of it. We noticed it happens more when we aren't able to take her on walks as much. That's something we're trying to do more, is to let her get enough daily exercise and have been taking her to doggy day care a few times during the week as well to play with other dogs.
Have you considered using a treadmill? Some dogs become very comfortable using a treadmill as a source of exercise. My advice would be to seek a certified dog trainer in your area to get your dog accustomed to the device. Do not attempt this on your own. Another suggestion, enroll your furry kid in an agility class. Great work out for both you and your dog and you can practice anywhere!
I'd recommend taking her to the vet immediately because often times this is a sign of a health condition that may need medical attention. She may have pain or discomfort from a more serious problem, or it could be something very minor like a skin irritation.
This may be related to anxiety from the moving but since you moved a almost a year ago it may be something else in her environment that is causing this anxiety. You may want to try giving her something much tastier to chew on besides her leg. Just make sure that you give it to her before she starts chewing on herself and not as a reward for chewing on herself.
One thing that I have used that works is putting a kong toy in the freezer with peanut butter in it. I find this will distract my dog for hours and may keep yours from resorting to chewing on her own fur. Anything that you can do to distract her and keep her from doing the negative behavior will help.
Thanks for the input. We've taken her to multiple vets and discussed this, everything from anxiety, to allergies, etc. Nothing has really worked. Honestly, the best thing I've seen so far is when she can go to Doggy Day Care and play with other dogs *all day* so she is completely worn out when she gets home, thus sleeping all night. Most times when she does start chewing her arms, it's during the night.
And unfortunately, Doggy Day Care is too expensive to do every day, so my wife and I are trying much harder to ensure she gets proper exercise every day so she doesn't have all this built up energy at night.
Kongs are great for some many thinks. If your can't be bother cleaning one (their only fault is that they are really hard to clean inside), try getting an old butter/margarine plastic container and put some wet and dry food with some water and freeze. Doggy icebloke that keeps them busy for ages.
My sister-in-law's dog did this. It actually turned out that his paw was broken.
If you do decide to wash your dog once a month or more, you may want to look into the type of shampoo since the pH of their skin is determined typically by breed.
Our Schnauzer mix will pull out all the hair on his back he can reach when he is fed food with either corn or grains, we are not sure which. We heard this was potentially the problem and switched, within a month the hair was growing back and he left it alone. Several months later we forgot, and ended up with 1 bag of corn/grain containing food. (we mix two types of good quality dry food) Right after that his hair started disappearing. (by being pulled out) Back on Corn and Grain free, and his hair grew back.
Give this at least a month, maybe 6-8 weeks. No treats, as they often contain corn and grain, so stay away from them. This is critical for smaller dogs, as it will affect them more as a percentage of body weight and food consumed. If you can't live without feeding your dog treats, find grain and corn free ones and gradually get them switched over. Stay away from made in China anything.
Another irritant for dogs that can show up as hair being pulled out is fleas. We have found that Frontline works for us, or a generic equivalent. A 3 month supply is fairly inexpensive if bought direct, and not through the vet. (PetSmart, etc.)
I would go with the gradual food change to avoid diarrhea and see how that goes after 6-8 weeks. If you notice fleas around, on your dog, or know they are present in your area then do both.
It is simple yet amazing the recovery. Just as an FYI, we mix Nature's Recipe and Costco, both Lamb and Rice and Corn and Grain free.
Does she lick at the areas? A few suggestions that may be helpful:
- Keep a diary of when you noticing her doing it. If it is a behavioural issue (which most of the time hair pulling is in animals), keeping note of what happened before or during the hair pulling may be helpful as you can then try to avoid that situation. Of course, this is only if certain situations are causing it.
- Since it seems to be localised to just her arms, I'm lead to believe it may be a behavioural issue rather than a medical one, but with that being said, I don't want to rule out medical as I do not know what other behaviours she may be exhibiting, plus, dogs can get hot spots on only one part of their body.
- Aloveen shampoo and condition are the bomb. http://dermcare.com.au/Products/Shampoo-and-Rinse/Aloveen.html They have a moisturising agent in them that helps with sensitive skin. You have to leave each one on for at least 5-10 minutes before rising otherwise, it won't work. Try not to wash her more than once every 10 days as washing a dog more than once a fortnight can strip their natural oils from their skin, causing them to be more itchy
- A vension based food can help as it doesn't have as much protein, which can lead to skin irritation. I use http://ivorycoat.com.au/venison-adult-dog-food/ for my Lab and it has definitely help with her skin issues
- Adding sardines to her diet is not only good for her gut but works wonders for a dog's skin. Salmon oil added to her food may help as well
- Doggy day care can get expensive. Have you looked into Nose Work? http://www.k9nosework.com/ My girl was so exhausted after two hours on and off of doing this that she slept so deeply that night. Really gives their brain a work out and is great to watch
Hopefully some of this may help and hope your fur baby is feeling better soon
I know that sound for sure. I have a Yorkie Poo and she does the exact same thing. So I took her to a dog dermatologist. Yes there is a such thing. Anyway she is allergic to her environment. My dog hates to walk on grass and I have poison ivy in my yard which I believe she steps in so check your yard too. He cleared up a bacteria and yeast infection she had with a special shampoo, two pills, and ear drops. After that my dog has to get an allergy shot each month. Her hair grew back immediately. And she stop lick/picking her paws. I hope this helps.