Why Do Dogs Bite Their Legs?


Dogs sometimes bite their own legs and other parts of their body for a number of different reasons. 

While this behavior isn’t always a reason for concern, it can be depending on the cause. This is why it is so important that you find out why your dog might be chewing on its legs.

Common Reasons Dogs Chew on Their Legs

Below we have listed some of the most common reasons that dogs chew on their legs. You’ll find that some of these possible explanations are more serious than others. The more of this information you have, the better equipped you will be to properly care for your pooch.

1. Parasites

One of the more common explanations for a dog biting on its legs is external parasites like fleas or ticks. These parasites bite the dog’s skin, which is often on their legs. This can lead to your dog chewing on this part of their body.

You should be able to find out if your dog has either fleas or parasites by combing through its fur. Ticks are especially visible, as they fill up with the dog’s blood and become significantly enlarged.

It is very important that you get your dog treated as soon as possible so it no longer has to live in discomfort. Remember that various treatments does might not have any effect though. Find out more here. There are oral and topical treatments that are usually very effective at killing these types of parasites.

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2. Dry Skin

Dogs can get dry skin just like people, and it can cause them a lot of irritation and discomfort. Your dog maybe chewing on its leg if the skin is very dry and itchy. It might just be their way of satisfying the itch, which can be rather intense.

Take a look at the skin on your dog’s leg by pulling back the fur with a comb or your fingers. If the skin appears red, inflamed, flaky or scaly, it is probably due to excess dryness. This can occur as a result of exposure to cold weather or even a nutritional deficiency. Your vet should be able to recommend an effective treatment for this problem.

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3. Allergies

If your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction to something, their skin might become very irritated and itchy. This is a fairly common reason for dogs to bite their own legs. Your dog could be allergic to anything from pollen to pesticides.

An over-the-counter antihistamine medication should clear up your dog’s allergic reaction. It is important, however, to consult your vet before giving your dog anything. Allergic reactions in dogs can range from being very mild to severe, just like with humans.

If your dog is having a severe allergic reaction, you might notice swelling of the face, hives, or even difficulty breathing. In this case, you should get your dog to an emergency veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

4. They are In Pain

It’s possible that your dog is biting at its leg as a way of dealing with physical pain. This pain could be due to anything from arthritis to an injury it sustained. It is important that you check your dog’s leg for wounds, including between its paw pads. Even a small wound can quickly become infected, which makes matters a lot worse.

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Lots of older dogs end up developing arthritis, which can be crippling for some. If your dog’s gait has changed or it seems to avoid physical activity, you should get it looked at. There are medications that can help with managing the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.

5. Skin Infection

Even a mild skin infection can cause severe itching and irritation with your dog. If a cut on their leg became infected with bacteria or fungus, this could easily happen. Look for greasy discharge coming from the leg, as it is a common sign of such infections. You’ll want to get your dog to the vet as quickly as possible. The worse their infection gets, the more serious the situation will be for your pet.

dog eat his leg

6. Anxiety

Anxiety and other mental/emotional issues can cause a dog to chew on its legs and other parts of its body. This is a common response to mental stress in dogs, and it is definitely causing concern. 

Dogs that have problems with anxiety can display a number of other symptoms, such as:

  • Pacing around
  • Excessive licking
  • Hiding
  • Barking more than normal
  • Trying to escape through open doors

If it seems like your dog has any mental or emotional issues, you’ll need to make a point of taking them to the vet as soon as possible. There are medications that your veterinarian can prescribe if your dog has serious problems with anxiety.

When to See the Vet

It is important that you know when to take your dog to the vet. If it continues biting on its leg, you should get them looked at. It’s especially important to do this if they have bitten their leg to the point of bleeding. This type of self-harming behavior (even if it’s unintentional) is not something you should take lightly.

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  • If your dog is chewing on its legs, there is probably a specific reason that you’ll want to find out.
  • It is possible that your dog is biting its legs because it has fleas or ticks, which is something you’ll need to take care of right away.
  • An allergic reaction can cause your dog to lick and bite itself due to itching.
  • You can try giving your dog an over-the-counter antihistamine medication to stop the allergic reaction, but only after talking to your vet.
  • It might also be the case that your dog is in physical pain. They might be chewing on their legs to distract from the pain or cope with it.
  • A lot of older dogs develop arthritis, which causes them to chew and lick their legs excessively.
  • A bacterial or fungal skin infection is another reason why your dog might be biting itself.
  • If you see signs of infection on your dog, you need to get the treatment immediately.
  • Sometimes anxiety or stress can lead a dog to self-harm. This is something that you do not want to ignore, as it will only get worse over time.
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