Are you caught by surprise when you see your dog eating his own fur and wonder if he does that out of hunger or just another bad habit that he had picked up from somewhere?
He does it out of sheer boredom or is trying to calm his anxiety. He is helping you to clean up his fur on the floor, or he simply likes the salty taste of his hair. It is a bad habit that he had learned recently, or he is suffering from dementia and doesn’t know that he is eating his fur.
He Feels Bored
Your dog is simply finding ways to entertain himself as he is feeling too bored.
The urge to chew on his own fur comes when he feels the need for stimulation or entertainment, and it’s an instinctive way of relieving boredom.
It is not something that he has learned to do intentionally or habitually.
What you can do is to make sure that he gets adequate exercise in his day to help drain off his pent-up energy.
Physical activities such as playing hide-and-seek, chasing bubbles, playing flirt pole and tug of war will help him release his built-up energy.
A good game of fetch is certainly the top pick activity to burn off his energy.
You should not overlook the importance of mental simulation for your dog as well.
Besides physical exercise, you should also make him utilize his brain power through playing with puzzle toys and obedience training.
He will need to follow and execute your commands during the obedience training and that is certainly going to mentally keep him tired.
He Is Helping You To Clean Up The Mess
Your dog sees his fur scattered around the house, and he wants to help you clean up the mess.
He can’t be sweeping the floor, so guess what he will do?
He simply eats the furs, just like he eats his food!
So, to prevent him from turning this action into a habit, you would need to be more diligent and perform frequent cleaning of the floor.
You can narrow down the cleaning area by keeping him in a play pen or using a baby gate to keep him in a certain spot.
This will make your cleaning job much easier.
If you notice that your dog is scratching constantly or is losing fur to the point that they are matted, you should seek a veterinarian’s advice as soon as possible.
It could be a sign of an allergy, skin disease, or other issue.
If left ignored, these underlying health problems could become a bigger concern.
He Is Trying To Ease His Anxiety
It is not at all surprising to find your dog reacting abnormally when he is stressed.
That is when you will see him chewing on things such as furniture, carpets and grass.
He could also be chewing your hair which is found on the floor.
You see, chewing releases endorphins into his body, which in turn makes him feel good (relax and calm).
So, by performing the act of chewing, he is trying to ease his anxiety.
You would need to work on what’s causing your dog’s anxiety, (maybe it is due to a change of environment, you have a new member or pet in the family, or he is suffering from dementia), and find ways to eliminate the “negative” effects.
The best thing you can do is spend more time with your dog, interacting with him in a POSITIVE way, and provide him with lots of attention.
You should also provide him with some chewing toys so that he can keep himself occupied whenever he is feeling anxious.
He Likes The Salty Taste Of The Fur
Do you find your dog clingy to you and do his licking whenever you are back from a workout?
He finds the smelly and salty taste of your sweat to be appealing.
The same goes for his “like” on his fur as well. He is fond of the smelly and salty taste of his hair.
You see, if your dog is not given any bath for a long time, his fur will accumulate lots of dirt, especially if he likes to play in the mud or roll over some dead animals such as rats, and that scent and taste on his fur would be extremely appealing to him.
He would then start to do his scratching and eat his own fur as it fell off his body.
So, make sure you maintain good hygiene and give your dog a bath at least once every month.
It is important to keep his fur clean and healthy as that will prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus and also deter his “eating” habit.
If your dog has an active lifestyle, and you don’t give him a bath regularly, you can also spray him with a strong smelling shampoo after every few weeks.
This will help mask the smell of your dog’s fur.
Of course, the best way is to give him a bath and brush his hair to remove any dirt.
He Is Suffering From Dementia
When your dog is suffering from dementia, he will be disoriented, confused and have difficulty understanding his actions.
He doesn’t know that he is eating his fur as he simply eats what he can find on the floor.
Though there would not be any potential health issues with eating some hair, this should be avoided if possible.
You would need to do more regular house cleaning to ensure that he doesn’t get the chance to eat the furs that he had shed.
If you notice your dog’s sudden behavior changes and concerned about his mental state, take him to the veterinarian for an examination.
Your vet may prescribe medication to help control your dog’s symptoms.
There is no cure for dementia, so you can only provide comfort and care for your dog with your best effort.
A Bad Habit That He Had Picked Up
If your dog only started practicing this habit of eating his fur recently, it could likely be a bad habit that he had picked up from somewhere.
Did your dog stay in another home (maybe in a boarding facility or your neighbor’s home) when you were away for a business trip lately?
That could explain his action.
He had learned this behavior from another dog and found the action to be fun and entertaining.
As he is not getting any corrections from you, he thinks that is a good habit and will continue doing it.
To fix this, it is important that you must immediately stop him when he is performing this act.
Give him a firm and calm command “NO!” and walk away from him.
This will let him know that there will be a negative consequence of doing this habit, and that is, you are going to be unhappy, and he is going to lose your love.
When he stops the act, go back to him and reward him with a small treat or give him a good shoulder pet.
This will help him to associate GOOD things that will happen when he stops eating his furs.