*Discloser: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.
If your dog seems to be constantly itchy, you might be asking yourself: how to I get my dog to stop chewing himself?
Not only is it irritating to see your dog so stressed and itchy, it’s usually also an indicator that something’s wrong.
In this article we’ll cover the reasons why your dog might be chewing himself. And then we’ll go over how to stop him from chewing himself.
Let’s dive in!
Reasons Your Dog Might Be Chewing Himself
It’s normal for dogs to chew and scratch themselves—on occasion. Like us, sometimes dogs just get itchy!
But other times, the scratching can be excessive and can even cause problems. If your dog seems to be scratching and chewing himself more than is normal, there are a few reasons why that might be.
If your dog is scratching and chewing on himself a lot, the usual culprit is allergies.
Yep, that’s right—just like humans, dogs can get allergies! And also like humans, allergies can be caused by a variety of things.
Some dogs are allergic to certain foods. Others have seasonal allergies like people. Also keep in mind that certain breeds tend to be more prone to specific allergies than others.
If the problem is allergies, your dog might have other symptoms too, though not always. He might wheeze, sneeze, cough, or have a runny nose or eyes.
If you think your dog is itchy because of allergies, then the most important thing is to determine what your dog is allergic to. You can then help him to avoid whatever triggers his allergies.
You know how itchy you get when your skin is dry? Well, the same is true for your dog!
If your dog has dry skin, that could be the cause of his chewing and scratching. In that case you’ll likely see a lot of dandruff flaking off your dog.
There are different causes of dry skin. A common one is changes in weather. You’re probably familiar with how dry skin gets in the winter time. If you live in an area with low humidity, this can cause dry skin in your dog, too.
A lot of the time, a dog’s diet can be the cause of dry skin.
Sometimes a dog’s itchiness is the result of skin infections. This can be caused by bacteria and fungus growing on your dog’s skin.
One example of a skin infection in dogs is pyoderma. This is when the hair follicles and surrounding skin become infected. It’s usually caused by something getting under your dog’s skin, a wound of some sort, or allergies.
If your dog seems super itchy, it could be because of parasites living on your dog’s skin. Yup—gross!
There are several different types of parasite that could be responsible. Fleas are one of the most common ones that show up on dogs. These are wingless insects, and can be extremely irritating for your dog. You might be able to see them bouncing around your dog, though they are very small—about the size of sesame seeds.
Ticks can also cause itching in dogs. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, you’ll want to check him over regularly for ticks. These insects can carry dangerous illnesses, and at the very least they’re irritating for your dog.
Your dog might also be affected by lice or mites. There are lots of different kinds of mites, and in severe cases your dog might experience mange.
It’s important to brush your dog frequently, and check him over for signs of parasites that might be living in his fur.
Boredom, Stress, or Anxiety
Most of the time, dogs scratch because they’re itchy. But sometimes scratching and chewing can be part of a behavioral problem.
This is especially true for chewing. Chewing releases endorphins in your dog’s brain, which makes your dog feel good. If your dog is stressed out, he might chew on himself to self-soothe.
He might also do it if he’s bored, just to give himself something to keep him occupied.
Sometimes a dog might chew or scratch himself because part of him hurts. If your dog is chewing because he’s hurt, he’ll likely show other signs of pain too. He might hide, shake, or lose his appetite.
Anal Gland Issues
It’s not pretty, but sometimes your dog’s anal glands can become plugged, causing discomfort. This discomfort might, in turn, lead your dog to chewing and scratching himself.
If your dog “scoots” his bum along the ground, that’s another sign he might be having some anal gland issues. The glands might also bleed or have pus form in serious cases.
How to Stop a Dog from Chewing Himself
Now that we’ve covered the reasons why your dog is chewing himself, let’s talk about some of the ways you can get him to stop.
Always First Talk to Your Vet
Since there are many medical reasons why your dog could be so itchy, the first thing you should do is give your vet a call.
Your vet will be able to examine your dog and determine whether the problem is allergies, infections, parasites, or something else. And, if the chewing is caused by a medical problem, they’ll be able to set you up with a treatment plan.
Speaking of vet: have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!
Try a Different Kind of Food
One thing your vet might recommend, especially if it ends up that your dog has allergies, is trying a different kind of food.
There are lots of different brands of dog food on the market, but they’re not all created equal. If your dog has skin issues, it’s usually a good idea to try some fresh cooked food. This is easily digestible and contains all the nutrients your dog needs.
There are even dog food delivery services, like Nom Nom available. Nom Nom is a service offering fresh-cooked food straight to your door. Plus, you can even get 50% off on your first order.
As for other options, here are the best dog food delivery services for fresh cooked food.
Eliminate Parasites: Use Flea or Tick Products
If parasites are causing your dog’s itchiness, you’ll want to get to the root of the problem. It’s time to get rid of those parasites!
There are lots of products available to help prevent fleas and ticks in the first place. If your dog has parasites, your vet will probably recommend or prescribe specific medications based on your dog’s lifestyle and health.
Let Him Wear a T-Shirt
One way to help manage your dog’s itchiness while you’re waiting for treatment options to kick in is by putting a t-shirt on your dog. This will prevent him from hurting himself by chewing and scratching the spots that are itchy.
As a bonus, he’ll look super cute!
Make Sure He Gets Enough Exercise
If your dog is chewing on himself out of boredom, getting him enough exercise is the best way to help him. Try taking him on more walks or jogs, or spend more time playing with him in your yard or inside.
And don’t forget to provide mental exercise! Here are 10 brain games for dogs to play at home.
Relieve His Stress or Anxiety
If your dog is chewing to soothe himself, then you need to find the source of his anxiety and remove it.
Depending on what the source is, removing it might be enough. But sometimes the thing that’s causing your dog’s anxiety might just be a part of life, and something he needs to learn to deal with!
In that case, desensitization and counterconditioning are your best friends (well—aside from your dog). It means removing the stimulus causing your dog’s anxiety and reintroducing it in a slow, controlled, positive way. This is one of the most effective ways to help your dog get over his fears!
How to Stop a Dog from Chewing His Paws
Does your dog’s chewing seem to be directed specifically at his paws? Some dogs chew their paws so much they actually injure them.
If you’re asking the question, “Why does my dog chew his paws?” this article is a good place to start! I also outline some ways you can help him stop before he does too much damage to his feet.
Why Does My Dog Lick Everything?
Your dog experiences the world through his mouth. One of the first things that happened to him when he was born was that his mother licked him to clean him up and encourage him to breathe.
But sometimes the licking can be a bit much. If you’re wondering, “Why does my dog lick everything?” this article has everything you need to know to answer that question. Plus, you’ll learn some ways to get him to cut it out!
While your dog chewing on himself is normal behavior, sometimes it goes beyond just having an itch he needs to scratch. If your dog’s chewing and scratching seems excessive, there could be something wrong that you need to address.
Luckily, there are lots of ways you can help your dog learn to stop chewing on himself. Just remember to always go to your vet first. They’ll be able to help you diagnose what exactly is wrong with your dog. And if it’s a medical issue, like parasites or allergies, they’ll also be able to set you up with a treatment plan!