Why Do Dogs Bite Themselves?

Dogs are known for exhibiting all manner of behaviors. Some can range from harmless fun, such as chasing their own tail, to more baffling things, such as chewing random things. Sometimes you might even notice your dog starting to bite themselves, such as chewing on their leg for no apparent reason.

But why do dogs bite themselves? And is this a normal doggy behavior?

Today we’re going to take a look at why your dog is biting themselves, and whether this is anything that you need to be concerned about.

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Is It Normal For A Dog To Bite Itself?

Dog chewing on a stick

Dogs can display strange behaviors such as biting themselves for several different reasons. Some of these are nothing to worry about, but if you are ever concerned that your dog is biting themselves more than necessary, you should always consult with your vet. They will be able to help you diagnose what the issue is and whether it needs assistance.

That being said, what are the most common reasons that your dog is biting themselves?

Fleas, Ticks, And Mites

One of the most common reasons that your dog could be biting themselves is because they could have a flea infestation. These can cause your dog’s skin to be incredibly itchy once they have bitten them, which can then lead to your dog trying to bite their skin to soothe this itch (especially if it’s in an area where they can’t scratch with their back paws).

Other parasites such as mites and ticks can cause the same problems. Ticks are a lot more noticeable than fleas and mites, so you should be able to see this quite quickly and remove it as necessary.

For effective flea and mites treatment, you should consult with your vet. They will be able to give you the right product for your dog to ensure that they are protected from these pests. Your dog will need monthly flea treatment to stay properly protected.

Self Soothing

Other reasons that your dog is biting themselves could be entirely down to psychological causes. Some dogs may try to self soothe themselves when stressed or bored, which can then manifest in them chewing their legs or something similar.

If your dog is prone to anxiety, this could be a factor as to why they are chewing themselves. The best way to persuade your dog to stop doing this is to give them proper mental stimulation throughout the day. It will also be worth making sure that they are socialized properly so as to prevent them from becoming bored or anxious.


If your dog doesn’t appear to have fleas or any issues with boredom or anxiety, they could be biting themselves because they are allergic to something they are eating. If your dog has developed an allergy to a particular food, this can manifest itself in itchy red skin.

In the event that you suspect your dog may be allergic to something they are eating, you should consult with your vet. They will be able to prescribe a special diet for your dog to try and work out what allergens are causing the irritation. This will then allow you to adjust their diet accordingly.

Other allergy factors can of course be environmental. Things such as bug bites, pollen, or mold can cause the itchy red skin that irritates your poor pup. Some shampoos, soaps, and even pesticides can irritate your dog’s skin. So if you have only just noticed this new biting behavior, have a think about what environmental factors have changed recently for your dog.

Dry Skin

Another factor that could be causing your dog to bite themselves is to alleviate the symptoms of dry skin. During the colder weather, this can cause your dog’s skin to naturally dry out. Dry skin could even be caused by a lack of fatty acids in their diet, so you should ensure that you give your dog a fully balanced diet packed full of omega fatty acids.

Aches and Pains

If you notice that your dog is chewing or biting excessively in one spot, this could also be because they are in pain and are trying to make this go away. For example, if you notice that your dog keeps biting their paw, they may have something stuck in it, such as a thorn or other sharp object. They could also be suffering from orthopedic issues such as hip dysplasia or arthritis.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Biting Himself?

Of course, in order to stop your dog from biting themself, you will first have to work out what the issue is.

For the vast majority of the causes that we have discussed above, it should be fairly obvious. For example, if there are any parasites on your dog such as fleas, you should be able to notice these. To stop your dog from biting themselves it will simply be a case of getting the right flea treatment from the vet.

To try and dissuade your dog from biting themself as a self soothing behavior might be a little trickier. You should ensure that your dog has the right level of stimulation so as to prevent them from getting bored or anxious. This should help to reduce your dog’s need to bite themselves as a method of self soothing.

For issues such as dry skin and food allergies, it will be worth consulting with your vet to see if your dog’s diet needs to be adjusted.

In Summary

And there you have it! Your dog could be biting themselves because of a whole wealth of reasons. The most likely reason is of course parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites. Other factors could include food allergies or dry skin caused by a lack of fatty acids in their diet.

If you notice that your dog keeps biting themselves for no particular reason, this could be a method of self soothing because of boredom or anxiety. In order to try and stop your dog from doing this, you should ensure that they have the right level of mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

PuppyLists is written by Kat, who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 15 year old Lab mix.