The other day one of my readers asked me:
‘Why does my dog act like something is biting her?’
In this article I’ll answer this question. You’ll discover:
- How to identify the cause of the behavior.
- 9 real reasons why your dog behaves this way.
- Exactly what to do in each specific case (simple tips that will fix it).
- And more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog act like something is biting her?
Your dog acts like something is biting her because of allergies, dry skin, and insect bites. She deals with the itch and discomfort by licking or scratching at the area. She could also be infested with parasites such as fleas and ticks.
9 reasons why your dog acts like something is biting her
Does your dog…
- Shake her head?
- Bite on parts of her body?
She could be suffering from an allergy. And she would scratch like crazy for some relief.
Just like what this pooch does:
Did you know that some dog breeds are at high risk for canine atopic dermatitis (CAD)? Environmental factors and food hypersensitivity are to blame.
Allergic signs manifest when dogs are between 6 months to 3 years old.
When your dog has CAD, she develops allergic symptoms after repeated exposure to an allergen. She will experience dry, flaky skin, scabies, and sores.
You will notice that the skin may be crusty or oily.
To alleviate pain or itching, your dog will rub, lick, bite or scratch at the affected areas. This leads to patchy hair loss.
The affected area also reddens and thickens as a result of excessive scratching.
What to do:
Check for allergic inflammations on the face, paws, ears, hind legs, and stomach.
Also, monitor allergies affecting the eyes and ears. Her eyes would appear red and teary. Her ears would be smelly, red, and hot.
The allergy could lead to secondary infections if not treated asap.
If the allergy is caused by her food, identify the specific food. Then eliminate these food triggers.
Ask your vet for the best dog food for your dog.
Note: For environmental allergies, there is no cure. But you can help by minimizing encounters with allergens.
#2: Psychological and emotional reasons
Dogs act like something is biting them due to emotional and psychological reasons.
They may be reacting to boredom, anxiety, phobias, or stress.
Just like a human with anxiety, dogs also manifest physical responses. Whereas humans bite their nails, dogs would scratch, lick or chew.
They do this too often that it’s like the human equivalent of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What to do:
Identify what causes her stress or anxiety so you can address the problem.
If bored, maybe she needs exercise or other activities to keep her busy.
Caution: Address the problem asap before your dog’s responses turn into obsessive behavior. Obsessive or compulsive behavior can affect her quality of life. That’s why it’s important that you stop her from licking or scratching excessively.
If you need help in this area, your vet will know how to correct the behavior.
#3: Dry skin
Dry skin is itchy.
It could be caused by a lot of reasons. Including the winter weather, dry air, and even the soap you use on your dog.
Diagnosing skin conditions is tricky. It’s because there could be underlying reasons.
It could be from allergies, parasites, or other serious disorders such as Cushing’s disease. Even cancer can cause dry skin.
Allergies also account for dry skin. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disorder in American dogs, the American Kennel Club says.
Not only that. Parasites, the Demodex mite in particular, cause skin problems such as mange.
You can also look at the possibility of infections giving your dog dry skin.
Caution: In most cases, infections are brought about by bigger problems. Thus, it’s imperative that you take dry skin seriously. That’s because some infections, such as Ringworm, can be passed to humans.
To help you find out if dry skin is the problem, look for the following symptoms:
- Increased oiliness.
What to do:
In all of these cases, consult with the vet.
Depending on your dog’s case, they may recommend fatty acid supplements. These help cure skin problems and make your dog’s coat healthy.
#4: Hormonal imbalances
Hormonal imbalances in dogs are more common than you think. The side effects can be troubling, too.
The most common hormonal imbalance in dogs is hypothyroidism.
This is caused by the inflammation of the thyroid gland. If this happens, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
Thyroid hormones have very important functions in metabolism. If problems arise, it affects the function of many parts of the body.
Yet another common hormonal imbalance is Cushing’s disease. It is caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland or in one of the adrenal glands.
This is more common in dogs as they grow older.
The common signs of hormonal imbalances are skin problems. These could range from scales to the thickening of the skin.
These could be very irritating for your dog.
What to do:
Visit a vet to find out what causes the hormonal imbalance. Your vet may carry a blood test if needed.
Caution: If it’s hypothyroidism, know that it is a very serious problem. It can lead to other complications.
Pain or physical discomfort causes your dog to act like something bit her.
Does she have arthritis or hip dysplasia? If not, the pain could be from the discs along the spine.
The vet of a friend explained that problems along the spine can lead to pain.
How does this happen?
The soft tissues supporting the discs turn and press on the spinal cord. This could be painful.
How painful depends on how hard the spinal cord is pressed. You could see your dog limping or crying when touched.
If she hesitates to jump on the sofa or climb the stairs, this could be why.
Note: But these are not the only causes of pain. It may be stomach problems or wounds. Something might be going on inside her body that you don’t know about.
What to do:
Since inflammatory medicine is needed, it’s best to consult the vet. Then give your dog plenty of rest.
Caution: Do not give your dog any medicine that isn’t prescribed by the vet.
Parasites could be responsible for why your dog acts like something bit her. Because they might have actually bitten her.
Fleas, ticks, and mites are parasites that constantly victimize dogs.
Even if your dog has preventative medicine, check for fleas and ticks. Your dog could get these from when you take her outside.
Ticks are hard to notice right away until they are big and fat.
These carry dangerous diseases.
So check your dog during tick season and every time you come home from outside.
Fleas are equally uncomfortable. They make dogs suffer from severe itching and skin problems. Dogs can get allergies from flea saliva, leading to hot spots and infection.
Note: If your dog has a long or dark-colored coat, use a flea comb. Just to confirm if it’s a flea infestation.
Also, check the water when giving your dog a bath. If it turns reddish-brown in color, it’s almost always because of fleas.
What to do:
Check not only your dog but yourself and your family as well.
Especially if any of you came from an outdoor excursion. That’s because fleas can migrate from host to host.
Also, make sure that your dog’s flea and tick treatment is up to date.
#7: Anal gland problem
Have you noticed your dog acting strangely?
One moment she is calm. The next, she snaps around as though something bit her rear end. Then she scoots across the room on her bottom.
Chances are, it’s an anal gland problem. The anal glands are inside the dog’s rectum.
Problems arise when they are not able to ‘express’ the glands when they pee or poop. As a result, there could be lumps or swelling.
What to do:
If this is the problem, your dog needs to have them expressed. And that is best left to the professionals.
When dogs are hurt, they can’t tell their owners the problem.
But they could bring attention to the injury. They could bite, chew or lick the affected area repeatedly.
Your dog might even snap at you if you attempt to touch the affected area. If such behavior is unusual for her, then you know something’s up.
What to do:
Bring your dog to the vet to properly diagnose the problem through x-rays.
#9: Bug and insect bites
Dogs are curious creatures. Sometimes they get into trouble because of it.
That’s when they poke their nose where it doesn’t belong. They end up getting bitten or stung.
Such was the case with Cujo from Stephen King’s novel. With the difference that Cujo got bitten by a mammal (a bat).
To say that from there on, everything turned upside down for his owners and any people who got near him, would be a huge understatement.
Spider and ant bites and bee and wasp sting spell trouble for your pooch. Stinging insects cause mild to severe inflammation.
This could be very uncomfortable, or even painful, for your dog. She would lick or scratch until the area is raw or becomes a wound.
The easy targets for these bugs and insects are your dog’s nose, eyes, ears, and feet.
What to do:
If you’re a first time owner, the safest bet would be to visit the vet. That’s because your dog might be allergic to insect bites and you might not even know it.
But if you’ve been in this situation before, and your dog has no allergy to insect bites…
Do first aid at home. Mix baking soda and water to a thick paste and apply to the bite.
For swelling, apply an ice pack to the area for 10 minutes.