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Why does my dog keep chasing his tail?

June 21, 2018

Pets can suffer from obsessive-compulsive behaviors just like people can. Some examples of this behavior include:

Spinning or chasing tail

Flank or blanket sucking

Excessive self-grooming. This is popular with cats.

Shadow light chasing

Excessive licking of surfaces.

Some cases of fly biting

The causes of this disorder are poorly defined.

Environmental stressors can be a factor. The initial onset may be associated with exposure to conflict, stress, frustration or boredom.

Genetics can play a role since we see this behavior more in some breeds. Tail chasing is more common in German Shepherds and bull terriers, while flank/blanket sucking is associated with Doberman pinschers.

Reported stress triggers include change of environment, new people, children or pets, changing schedules, and strange sounds.

Compulsive behaviors can worsen over time and pets may engage in the behavior without any triggers. Eventually, as the behavior is repeated over and over, the dog begins to lose control over its ability to stop. If these behaviors continue for too long, they can destroy the pet’s ability to function normally because they can’t sleep, eat and engage with the family.

Treatment can be challenging. Medication and behavioral conditioning can help. We have had successes with alternative therapies including acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

The first step is recognizing your pet’s behavior might not be normal. The second step is making an appointment with us.

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