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So, you’re wondering “Why Does My Golden Retriever Bite His Tail?”
You’re not alone!
Tail biting is pretty common among Golden Retrievers, and it’s one of those things that seems to puzzle their owners as to why they do it.
Sure, it’s cute and funny when puppies try to bite and chase their tails. But, when your Golden Retriever bites his tail so much it bleeds, that’s worrisome!
Tail biting is not always cute and playful behaviour, sometimes your Golden Retriever could be suffering from medical or behavioural issues.
Let’s find out the 7 common reasons below.
Why Does My Golden Retriever Bite His Tail?
Possible reasons why your Golden Retriever is biting his tail include, impacted anal glands, parasites, allergies, hot spots, boredom, stress and anxiety, or injury. Puppies will often bite their tail as a form of play, which is cute and innocent. However, tail biting which occurs frequently is a sign that your Golden Retriever is suffering from one or more of the medical or behavioural issues mentioned above.
1. Impacted Anal Glands
Impacted what???!! If you’ve never heard of anal glands, you’re not alone!
Before owning my dog, I have never heard of anal glands or even knew what they did.
But, trust me if you ever smell a fishy foul odour coming from your dog’s back end, you’ll get to know all about anal glands!
Anal glands are 2 small oval-shaped sacs that are located on each side of your dog’s rectum.
Every time your dog poops, the anal glands naturally express themselves, putting your dog’s scent on his poop.
This scent gives other dogs valuable information like the age, sex and health of your dog.
But, sometimes anal glands don’t empty properly and become full and impacted. This usually happens when your dog has a few days of soft stool.
Impacted anal glands are uncomfortable for your dog, and could be the reason why your Golden Retriever is biting his tail.
Other signs to look for include scooting his bum on the ground, and a pungent fishy odour.
External parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites can cause severe itching and irritation. Your Golden could be biting his tail in order to relieve the itch and discomfort.
Many dogs have an allergic reaction to flea saliva after a flea bites them. This is known as flea bite dermatitis and is a common reason why dogs bite their tail.
Internal parasites such as tapeworms and roundworms can cause irritation around your dog’s bum, causing him to bite his tail.
Your Golden may be suffering from one or more of these parasitic infections. If you suspect parasites are the cause of your dog’s tail biting, it is best to consult your vet.
Most parasites are easy to treat. For instance, if your dog has worms, your vet will give you deworming medication. Fleas and ticks can be treated and prevented with topical or oral medications.
Allergies can be hard to pinpoint, and many Golden Retrievers seem to suffer from allergies, whether it’s from food or the environment, or both!
Allergies can cause great discomfort to your Golden. Causing him to itch and bite his tail.
Your Golden could be allergic to a certain protein in his diet such as chicken or beef, which are the most common food allergens.
Or, he could suffer from environmental allergens such as grass, pollen, or cleaning products in your home, such as laundry soap, or floor cleaner.
Allergic reactions can cause irritation, redness and severe itching. If the irritation happens to be around your dog’s bum or tail, then your dog will naturally bite his tail to find relief.
4. Hot Spots
Hot spots and Golden Retrievers go together like bread and butter! This breed is prone to them!
A hot spot can form anywhere on your dog’s body, but they commonly form in areas where the fur remains moist and warm.
The base of the tail, on the neck and under the chin are common areas.
Summer is the worst season for developing hot spots because Golden Retrievers love to swim and their fur remains wet for a long time.
Moisture left on the skin is a breeding ground for bacteria and is the most common cause of hot spots.
Allergies can also cause hot spots to develop, especially when your Golden is licking and scratching frequently.
Also known as acute moist dermatitis, a hot spot is a localized area on the skin that is inflamed, irritated, painful and super itchy for your dog.
A hot spot may be the reason why your Golden is biting his tail.
Hot spots can grow larger and become more inflamed and irritated if your Golden keeps licking, chewing and biting at it.
If you suspect that your Golden Retriever has a hot spot, you will need to consult your vet.
Hot Spot treatment typically includes shaving the hair around it, cleaning the affected area and prescribing topical or oral medications.
Being bored can cause your Golden Retriever to do all kinds of crazy things, including biting his tail.
Biting or chasing his tail is a way for your Golden to release some pent-up energy and entertain himself.
Boredom results from not having enough physical and mental stimulation throughout the day. This is especially true if your Golden is left alone for the majority of the day.
The good news is, that tail biting due to boredom is an easy fix.
Increase your dog’s physical activity for the day, and offer him some mental stimulation through puzzle toys, or brain games.
If your dog is alone most of the day, have a friend, neighbour or dog walker walk your dog, or take him to doggie daycare a few times a week.
RELATED ===> What Is Mental Stimulation For Dogs?
6. Stress And Anxiety
If your Golden is stressed or anxious, he may exhibit tail biting as a way to help him cope with his feelings.
There are many reasons why your Golden may be stressed or anxious, including:
- Separation anxiety (being away from you).
- Change in his environment (moving).
- New family member (baby or pet).
- Not getting enough physical and mental stimulation.
- Fear of loud noises.
- Death in the family.
Golden Retrievers are highly social, and they need and crave human interaction. If they are left alone too long, many of them will resort to engaging in destructive behaviour.
Sometimes this destructive behaviour is chewing furniture, walls, etc. But, quite often it turns into repetitive behaviours such as tail biting.
If you suspect that your Golden’s tail biting is due to him being stressed or anxious, you will need to address the cause of his stress and anxiety.
If you recently moved, added a new family member or experienced a death in the family, it will take time for your Golden to adjust to the change.
Your vet will be able to offer helpful advice, as well as prescribe any medication needed to relieve your dog’s anxiety.
Quite often though, dogs who are not getting their physical and mental needs met, are more likely to exhibit stress and anxiety-related behaviours such as tail biting.
The easy fix is to exercise your dog, stimulate his mind with brain games, and engage him in interactive play. All of these are drug-free!
RELATED ===> What Golden Retrievers Need!
Your Golden Retriever could be biting his tail as a way to find relief from an injury, or as a way to alert you that he is injured.
Any type of injury can cause your Golden to resort to tail biting as an outlet for pain.
But, most likely it could be an injury to the tail itself, such as a fractured or broken tailbone. Or an injury to the back legs or rear end.
Tail biting could be your only clue as many dogs are good at hiding their pain.
A vet visit along with x-rays will help to pinpoint the injury.
How To Stop Your Golden Retriever From Biting His Tail
Now that we’ve looked at the 7 most common reasons why your Golden Retriever is biting his tail, it’s time to look at what you can do to stop it.
Consult Your Vet
First and foremost, if your Golden Retriever is biting his tail frequently, it is best to consult your vet.
Your vet will be able to determine the cause and offer a solution.
This video below addresses the question “Is it normal for puppies to chew on their tail to the point it’s soaking wet?”
Impacted Anal Glands
If tail biting is caused by impacted anal glands, your vet will be able to express them.
Anal glands that are left unexpressed cause great discomfort for your dog, and can lead to infection.
Adding more fibre to your dog’s diet to bulk up his poop is often suggested.
Fleas, ticks and mites can be treated and prevented by oral or topical medications prescribed by your vet. Your vet can determine the best medication for your dog.
Worms can easily be treated with deworming medication prescribed by your vet. To prevent worms, have your Golden dewormed regularly.
A fractured or broken tailbone can sometimes go unnoticed by owners. Your vet will be able to determine where the injury is located.
Allergies can certainly be difficult to pinpoint. But, if your Golden has suddenly started to bite his tail, you need to determine what changed recently.
Perhaps you switched his food or washed his bedding with new laundry soap. Or, his allergies are seasonal, such as grass or pollen. If this is the case, you can easily determine the cause.
But, sometimes allergies develop over time and require a more thorough investigation of their cause.
Many owners do an elimination diet, to rule out certain allergy triggers in their dog’s food.
A simple change of food can eliminate your dog’s allergies, as can certain medications prescribed by your vet if your dog suffers from seasonal allergies.
Prevent Hot Spots
Hot Spots are commonly caused by fur remaining wet, such as after swimming and bathing.
In this case, you will need to thoroughly dry your Golden after being in the water.
If allergies are the cause of your Golden’s hot spots, you will need to first address the allergy.
When your Golden has a hot spot, it can be difficult to stop him from biting, licking and chewing at it, making it worse.
An Elizabethan Collar may be needed to keep him from licking it, but a better option is a surgical suit.
RELATED ===> Surgical Suit For Dogs.
A bored Golden Retriever is going to look for ways to entertain himself and release his pent-up energy.
Usually, this comes in the form of destructive behaviour. But, may include tail biting.
To keep your Golden from getting bored, make sure his daily needs are met. That includes getting enough physical activity and mental stimulation every day.
Walking, playing fetch, providing puzzle toys or treats, as well as giving him plenty of attention and affection every day, will keep him stimulated and prevent boredom.
Reduce Your Golden Retriever’s Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety in your Golden Retriever can be brought on by many different factors.
A change in environment, new family member, loss of a family member or pet, being away from you, etc., can all cause your Golden to feel stressed or anxious.
It’s important to give your Golden time to adjust to any changes.
Your vet may also offer medication to help ease your Golden’s stress and anxiety.
Use Basic Commands To Stop Tail Biting
Once you’ve ruled out any medical reasons for your Golden Retriever’s tail biting, you can focus on getting him to stop.
Use basic commands such as “No” and “Leave It”, when you catch your Golden biting his tail.
Once your Golden stops, you can reward him with praise or a treat.
You can also redirect his attention to appropriate toys to bite and chew rather than his tail. Or, use “Sit” or “Down” to engage him with obedience training, rather than biting his tail.
RELATED ===> Basic Puppy Training Commands.
As you can see, there are many reasons why your Golden Retriever is biting his tail.
Quite often it is because your pup is feeling playful or has an itch. However, tail biting that happens frequently is commonly caused by a medical or behavioural issue.
Medical issues include impacted anal glands, parasites, allergies, hot spots or injury. Your vet will be able to address any of these medical issues that are causing your Golden to bite his tail.
Behavioural issues include boredom, stress and anxiety, and can often be resolved by simply increasing your dog’s daily activity, including both physical and mental stimulation.
Some situations may call for a prescription from your vet, for instance, if your Golden suffers from severe anxiety.
Next time you witness your Golden Retriever biting his tail, don’t just laugh and shrug it off. Be sure to get to the root of the behaviour.
Does your Golden Retriever bite his tail? What was the reason behind your Golden Retriever’s tail biting?
Share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you!
I am the proud owner of a Golden Retriever named Ellie. She keeps me busy, and when she is resting, you can find me working on my blog. She is always close by though. I live in Stirling, ON Canada with my husband, and we both enjoy the never a dull moment life with our Ellie.
2 thoughts on “Why Does My Golden Retriever Bite His Tail? [7 Reasons Explained!]”
Thanks for pointing out that a presumed fun activity like biting the tail and playing with it can cause some symptoms. That may need your and/or the vet’s attention.
The details of what may have happened or not are explained well.
Goldens are a source of our joy and this post helps how to take care of them in case of a problem.
Distracting and redirecting the dog’s attention with a command works really well.
Golden Retrievers are awesome looking and really affectionate. Two of my neighbours have them. I play with them when taking walks around my neighbourhood. I am a little scared of many kinds of dogs but not this one.
Does the golden retriever need to go for yearly regular health check-ups regardless of any symptoms? I was wondering if a symptom could be diagnosed earlier.
I am happy to hear that you are a fan of this wonderful breed. Golden’s are very loving and gentle.
To answer your question, yes Golden Retrievers need to go to the vet for regular check-ups.
Even if your Golden Retriever doesn’t show any symptoms of being sick, your vet will be able to check things such as weight, eyes, teeth, nails, feel for any lumps or bumps, as well as any changes in coat or skin health.
Also, your vet can make sure your Golden is up to date on any shots needed such as rabies and distemper.
Keep in mind that dogs are really good at hiding their pain, and often when symptoms show up it is too late. This is especially true of cancer.
Yearly checkups are vital to your Golden’s health, and once a Golden Retriever becomes a senior, it is important to visit the vet every 6 months.
As mentioned in this article, tail biting can be a clue that something is wrong, and needs to be addressed.
Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.