You’re confident that your pooch doesn’t have any fleas or ticks…
But they act like something’s biting them…
Are they really acting, or did something really bite them?
Read on to learn:
- What to look out for after your dog exhibits the behavior.
- If you should be worried when your dog acts like something’s biting them.
- Specific things you can do to help relieve your dog when they behave this way.
- And many more…
Why does my dog act like something is biting her?
Your dog acts like something’s biting them because they feel itchy. It may be due to allergies, dry skin, or infection. It could also be an anal gland problem or a show of pain and injury. Other times something must’ve really bitten them. It could also be a compulsive behavior due to anxiety.
10 reasons why dogs act like something is biting them
#1: Atopic dermatitis
Does your dog have allergies?
If they do, you have to watch out further.
It’s because allergies may not be the end of it.
You might’ve gotten rid of the allergy symptoms such as:
- Watery eyes.
- Chewing of the paws.
However, allergies can develop into skin disease.
Specifically, a condition called atopic dermatitis (AD).
It’s when your pooch’s allergy causes inflammation and becomes chronic.
Experts from PetMD tells us that allergies that can turn into AD is usually caused by:
- Dust mites.
- Mold spores.
- Indoor plants.
AD is also widespread among these breeds:
- Shih Tzus.
- Cocker Spaniels.
- Golden Retrievers.
Note: If your pooch is not among those breeds, they can still develop AD.
Additionally, this disease might show between 1 to 6 years of age.
Warning: Some cases of atopic dermatitis don’t become noticeable for several years. It’s because AD can be very mild during its first year.
Also, symptoms of AD can get worse along the way. While other times, symptoms could be seasonal.
I’m talking about these symptoms of AD:
- Greasy skin.
- Redness of the skin.
- Licking the affected area.
- Presence of a yeasty smell.
To help you further, here’s where to look for those symptoms:
- Around the eyes.
- The base of the tail.
- In between their toes.
What you can do:
The apparent response is taking your pooch to their vet.
Fido will need to undergo a complete physical examination.
Plus, their vet will ask you about their medical history. That’s why it’s important to note when their allergies occur.
As much as possible, take notes of the possible allergens, too.
The first goal is to identify the specific allergen that causes AD.
Once identified, the vet will advertise the proper treatment.
Some advice to expect:
- Regular bathing with prescription-strength shampoo.
- Immunomodulatory medications. Either taken through a daily pill or a monthly injection.
Unfortunately, you can’t ultimately prevent your dog from developing allergies.
Moreover, AD is rarely resolved.
It can only be regulated and treated for ease.
If left untreated, your dog might change their personality.
Fido might withdraw from you. Or react aggressively to physical contact.
For dogs whose ears are affected, they might even develop deafness.
#2: Compulsive behavior
On the onset of a nervous announcement, you might’ve relentlessly tapped your foot. Or you paced back and forth in the hallway. Other times you might’ve bitten your nails or peel off your lips’ skin.
The behaviors mentioned showcase nervousness.
Anxious people feel that if they don’t divert their energy, they might explode. And so, they redirect their feeling of anxiety or fear to an unrelated action.
However, it’s not just for anxious people.
Your dog experiences the need to cope, too.
In this case, your dog chooses to cope by acting like something’s biting them.
It can also be accompanied with:
- Chasing their tail.
- Constant barking.
- Staring into space.
- Scratching their nose.
- Excessive drinking of water.
- Repetitive licking, which can cause acral lick dermatitis.
But what happens when your dog gets used to this behavior?
Every time your dog tries to cope, they become accustomed to the practice they do.
And so, this behavior can become compulsive.
Once it’s turned into that, it might be a little challenging to deal with it.
It could turn into an obsession brought by Canine Compulsive Disorder or CCD.
At that point, your dog’s compulsive behavior becomes repetitive.
Research says they do it again and again because it’s something they ‘have’ to do.
However, the behavior doesn’t align with any of their needs. While the things that they have to actually do get delayed.
Therefore, it disrupts one’s daily functions.
It feels unstoppable for your dog. And it’s hard to control.
That’s the reason why it’s a challenging occurrence to deal with.
What you can do:
The first thing to do is to recognize if this is indeed the case.
Notice that some of the behaviors I mentioned before can be normal dog behaviors.
The key is seeing that there is no pattern when your dog performs those actions.
Remember: Dogs are consistent beings. they’re relying on a routine.
That’s why unpatterned and repetitive behaviors can mean it’s unusual.
If you see that this is the case, bring your dog immediately to their veterinarian.
A diagnosis for this disorder is critical. It’s because intervention is needed as soon as possible.
Once they’re brought to the vet, clearly describe the behaviors you observe.
If you record the behavior, the vet will appreciate it if you show it to them.
Also, take note of how often it occurs.
You can also have your dog consulted by a behaviorist.
They will help you understand the absolute intensity of the situation.
With that, they’ll assist you on how you can intervene with the behavior.
#3: Dry skin
Dry skin can cause discomfort to your dog.
It will make them constantly scratch. And it will look like something is biting them.
This one’s tough.
Well, not only is it a frustrating condition to have, but it’s also tricky to diagnose. That’s because the cause might be an underlying skin condition.
Dry skin can be the symptom of the following conditions:
- Cushing’s disease.
On the other hand, dry skin can also be caused by environmental conditions. These are:
- Dry air.
- Harsh soaps.
- Cold weather.
- Poor nutrition.
- Excessive bathing.
Overall, it could be different from one dog to another. Some may show this symptom, while one doesn’t. These symptoms include:
- Hair loss.
- Greasy skin.
What you can do:
Treatment for dry skin will depend on its cause.
The best thing to do is consult your dog’s veterinarian.
Plus, as I mentioned, it’s a tricky condition to diagnose.
Once properly diagnosed, the vet will advise you on how to treat your canine.
If this is not the case for your pooch, it’s still right to be familiar with this condition.
After all, prevention is better than cure.
Here’s a list of things you can do to prevent dry skin on your dog:
- Regularly groom your dog.
- Establish a routine visit to your dog’s vet.
- Feed your dog a high-quality and well-balanced diet.
- Do your research regarding your dog’s breed. So that you can discover possible skin conditions. Doing so will help you prevent it in the first place.
#4: Food allergy
Do you know someone who’s allergic to certain foods? Like nuts, mushrooms, or milk.
If you do, you’re familiar with the fact it can be fatal.
If you have an allergy yourself, you might always be carrying an EpiPen with you. Especially if you’re allergic to peanuts.
It’s because a severe allergic reaction can lead to anaphylaxis. It’s the shock that narrows a person’s airway.
Dogs, on the other hand, experience food allergies, too.
What are the usual food allergies in dogs?
According to a study, here are the most common food allergens in dogs:
- Chicken eggs.
However, dogs rarely experience anaphylaxis due to food allergies.
One of the most common allergic reactions is itching. That might be why your pooch acts like something is biting them.
VCA Hospital tells us these other signs of food allergy:
- Weight loss.
- Lack of energy.
- Digestive disturbances.
What you can do:
Want to identify your dog’s food allergies?
It will be complicated yet worth it.
For 8 to 12 weeks, your dog could undergo an elimination trial.
During this trial, foods that your dog has eaten before shouldn’t be present anymore.
You shouldn’t also feed your dog anything else other than the subject food.
So, sorry, Fido, but there will be no treats in the meantime.
Once you’ve identified which food is your dog’s allergen, eliminate it from their diet.
Starting then, double-check each product you buy for your pooch. You have to make sure that it doesn’t contain your dog’s allergen/s.
Overall, the only key is avoidance. There is no cure to make your dog’s allergy go away.
#5: Flea allergy dermatitis
The bites of fleas hurt your dog already.
But that’s not all the bloodsuckers came to do.
Fleas can also cause allergies to your canine.
They’re the number 1 allergens in dogs. And the condition they bring is called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD).
How does a flea cause an allergic reaction?
When a flea bites, it injects its saliva onto your pooch’s skin.
Since flea saliva is very allergenic, it can make your pooch scratch constantly.
In this case, there’s really something biting your dog. They’re not acting anymore.
And even after the bite, your dog can continue to act that way.
That happens because they finally have an allergic reaction to the flea’s bite.
PetMD tells us that even a single bite from a single flea can cause a reaction.
How can you tell if this is the case:
There’s this thing called ‘the flea triangle’. It’s the region where evident hair loss and itching occurs.
The area is in their tail’s base down to their rear leg.
What you can do:
Along with taking your dog to the vet, there’s another essential response. That is to prevent fleas once and for all.
What if your dog doesn’t have fleas but has FAD?
Then, you should continue putting them under flea medications.
Another important thing is maintaining environmental control.
Make sure that there will be no place for fleas to live in your home.
VCA Hospital says that fleas grow in number during warm weather.
But, it can still occur all year round.
So make sure to regularly vacuum your cushions, wash your sheets, and dust corners.
For sudden episodes of FAD, your dog can use a corticosteroid.
Warning: Consult your dog’s veterinarian for the proper dosage of corticosteroids.
It also has several potential side effects. That’s why it’s better to get advice from a professional.
Moreover, it’s best to use the lowest dosage possible on your dog. And it should also be administered as infrequently as possible.
Infections can also occur due to scratching. If that happens, your pooch would require more attention. (See reason #7 for further information about this)
#6: Bug and insect bites
As a dog parent, you’ve probably dealt with your pooch’s curiosity.
Dogs are naturally curious creatures. That nature of theirs often gets them into trouble.
How to spot a curious pooch:
A curious pup leads with their nose.
They sniff the strange thing that sparked their wonder. It’s done with hopes to analyze it.
When your pooch sees an insect flying around, they find it bizarre.
And so, they stick their nosy nose to follow the insect.
That’s why most insect bites happen on the dog’s nose.
Warning: Your dog can be sensitive to insect bites. Either they’re born with the sensitivity, or it developed.
Some insects have protein in their saliva. And your pooch might react to that type of protein.
The most common causes of insect bite reaction in dogs:
- Bee stings.
- Spider bites.
According to VCA, here are signs of an insect bite reaction:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Chewing their paw.
- Swollen muzzle or face.
- Multiple red swellings over the body.
- Redness and swelling at the area of the bite.
What you can do:
Step 1: If you think that they got bitten just seconds ago, search around.
See if any flying insects can be the culprit.
Nothing in the air? Then look out for anything that’s crawling around, too.
Step 2: Once the culprit is identified, it’s time to check your pooch.
Examine their body to identify the bitten area.
In case it’s a bee, look for the stinger and remove it.
Step 3: Create the first aid paste. It’s made of baking soda and water.
Apply that paste into the bitten area.
For a bee sting, an oatmeal bath may be necessary.
Step 4: Prevent further allergic reactions. Give your dog a small dose of oral antihistamine.
Warning: Severe insect bite reactions can occur within 20 minutes of the bite. However, it may still be delayed for hours.
You have to keep a watch on your pooch.
One severe (but rare) reaction could be anaphylaxis. Which can be fatal.
Bring your dog to the vet if these severe signs show:
- Severe swelling.
#7: Bacterial infections
A bacterial skin infection could be a secondary condition.
To elaborate, in reason #5 I said that scratching could cause infection. This is what I was talking about.
If Fido doesn’t have any prior allergic reactions, this could be the case, too.
Any damage that disrupts the skin can be the origin.
The scratching or the injury can cause abrasions in the skin.
Bacteria will take advantage of that opportunity. They will enter through the cut or the inflammation.
With that, a bacterial skin infection will be present.
It’s called pyoderma in dogs. The term means “pus in the skin.”
Signs of pyoderma:
- Hair loss.
- Circular crusts.
- Dry or flaky patches on the skin.
- Presence of bumps. They look like pimples in humans. It’s red, raised, and filled with pus in the center.
What you can do:
If you see red lesions on your dog’s skin, take them to the vet.
It’s essential to take your dog to the doctor. It’s because this is a bacterial infection.
To get your hands on antibiotics, you have to have a prescription.
Your dog’s vet will tell you how much dosage Fido needs.
They will also tell you how long Fido will be taking antibiotics. Usually, you can expect it to be 3 to 4 weeks.
Common antibiotics to expect are:
- Enrofloxacin for resistant bacteria.
There are available topical medications, too.
Those are sprays and shampoos that are medicated. Your pooch has to use them once or twice a week for 2 to 3 months.
#8: Yeast skin infections
In low numbers, yeast is present in the skin. The fungus is called Malassezia pachydermatis.
However, too much yeast can cause infections in the skin. It can lead to yeast dermatitis or Malassezia dermatitis.
That condition is a common root of skin disease in dogs.
It usually manifests through oil accumulation in the skin.
The increase in oil causes the number of yeast organisms to rise as well.
It can result in these signs:
- Musty odor.
- Redness of the skin.
- Crusty and flaky skin.
- Thickened skin or ‘elephant skin’.
Some breeds might be genetically predisposed to develop this infection. According to VCA Hospital, they’re:
- Lhasa Apsos.
- Basset Hounds.
- Maltese Terriers.
- Australian Terriers.
What you can do:
There are 3 treatments for yeast dermatitis. It can be oral, topical, or both.
Overall, it depends on your dog’s condition.
For a topical treatment, medicated shampoo is suggested.
These shampoos are degreasing and antifungal.
Oral treatment is used for a more severe condition.
These medications are antifungal and antibiotics.
#9: Anal gland problem
You hear your dog suddenly bark.
You check to see what they’re doing. And they’re just sitting there, with their tush against the floor.
Then they bark again. This time, you see that they’re checking their rear. And they’re trying to reach it.
Your pup tries to bite their tush, left and right. It’s even accompanied by grunting.
Further through the day, you see your dog scooting. They’re dragging their bum on the floor.
Well, that’s a visual representation of a dog with an anal gland problem.
Dogs have two small sacs on each side of their anus.
These sacs create an oily, smelly, brown fluid. That substance is what dogs use to identify each other.
That’s why they sniff each other’s bums!
Now, what’s an anal gland problem?
It’s a widespread and painful disease for your dog.
It manifests when the sacs become impacted. That can progress to abscesses or infection.
What causes it?
- Chronic skin dermatitis.
- Not enough fiber in their diet.
- Food or environmental allergies.
- Genetically predisposed. It’s more common for smaller breeds. However, all breeds can be affected by it.
Here are other symptoms of anal gland problems:
- Difficulty defecating.
- Constant licking of the anal area.
- Persistent itching of the rear end.
- Presence of blood or pus in their stool or near the rectum.
What you can do:
Bring your dog to the vet to have their anal sacs emptied.
If an infection occurs, your pooch will be prescribed an antibiotic.
The medications will either be taken orally or administered into the sacs.
#10: Pain and injury
How can this reason be connected to the behavior?
It seems like a stretch, but it’s not.
When your dog feels pain, they can’t tell you exactly.
They can’t come to you and say, “I hurt my leg going down the stairs, hooman.”
The way your dog tells you is through their body language.
And so, when they act unusual, they might be communicating something.
An injured dog will lick, bite, or chew the affected part.
What to do:
Does your pooch display the behaviors mentioned?
If ‘yes,’ then it may be time to seek a vet’s help.
The vet may advertise an X-ray after a complete physical exam.
Check out also: Why is my dog moving slowly?
People also ask:
Should I be worried if my dog acts like something is biting her?
Yes, you should be worried if your dog acts like something’s biting her. It’s because the reason for it might be something’s really bit her. It could also be an underlying medical condition or an injury.
You have to check if something’s biting your dog. Parasites could be present in your dog’s skin.
Not only that, flea bites can cause allergies to your dog, too.
If there are no parasites, you have to observe the behavior even further.
Check if there are any specific symptoms that can help you identify the cause.
If you have identified 1 or 2 symptoms with this behavior, seek a vet’s help immediately.