Various different conditions, such as injury, anxiety, pain or hormonal imbalances can cause dogs to chew their tails. In addition, food allergies contribute to dry and irritated skin. As a natural response, your dog may chew at this irritated skin. A balanced diet is essential for your dog. Low-fat diets may also contribute to dry skin and excessive chewing.
If your dog is chewing his tail on a regular basis, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Your vet will examine your dog to look for possible injuries and test him for hormonal imbalances. After ruling out these causes, your veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet to check for possible food allergies. If you do not eliminate the source, excessive chewing can break the skin and lead to bacterial infections.
One tenth of all dog allergies are food related. Common foods that trigger allergies in dogs include beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, lamb, chicken, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. Determining what your dog is allergic to will allow you to eliminate it from his diet.
To determine what your dog is allergic to, you must stop feeding him his normal food. An elimination diet begins with one protein and one carbohydrate. For example, a diet of cooked turkey and rice provides one source of protein and one of carbohydrates. Veterinarian Matt Allworth recommends two parts carbohydrates to one part protein. Feed the elimination diet for six to eight weeks and look for a reduction in chewing. If the chewing has improved, you know it may be allergy related. Now you may begin introducing other proteins and carbohydrates, one at a time. If chewing begins after a new introduction, you may have found the food that triggers the allergy. Now you know what ingredient to avoid in your dog’s food.
In addition to food allergies, diets low in essential fatty acids -- such as omega-3 and omega-6 -- contribute to dry and unhealthy skin. This dry skin leads to itching, scratching and chewing. Talk to your veterinarian about adding fatty acid supplements or adding sunflower or safflower oil to your dog’s food.
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