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Vet Answers: Why does my dog chew on her tail?

 Q: My dog chews her tail and bum area until raw. What can I use to stop this? 

A: Before addressing what you can use to stop her chewing, it is important to determine what is causing it in the first place. Once you know the cause, the treatment should become clear.

One of the most common causes is a problem with your dog’s anal glands. Anal glands are a pair of small sacs located on either side of the anus that are filled with a brownish-black, foul-smelling fluid. Both dogs and cats have these glands and they are thought to be similar to the scent glands in a skunk. The purpose of the anal glands in dogs (and cats) remains unknown. 

Anal glands rarely cause a problem in most pets. This is because their contents are usually expelled during a bowel movement or with exercise. However, anal gland infections can occur and this can lead to irritation and pain, leading to excessive licking and chewing of the area.

There can be several reasons for this. For example, if the anal sacs become impacted or plugged up, irritation and/or an infection can occur. Bacterial contamination of the glands from the stools, food allergies, intestinal parasites, obesity, lack of exercise, and even tumours can all lead to anal gland problems, resulting in chewing and licking the hind end.

Manual expression of the sacs by your veterinarian or trained support staff usually clears up the problem. In some cases, the problem may persist and the glands may need to be expressed on a regular basis.

If the anal glands are okay, then food allergies, behavioural problems (such as OCD-obsessive-compulsive disorder), injuries, arthritis, and skin diseases rank high as possible causes.
Because there are so many possible causes and so many possible treatments, having your Yorkie examined by your veterinarian is highly recommended.