Why Does My Dog Eat My Hair? 5 Most Common Reasons
Dogs of all ages can be chewers, whether it be shoes, toys, or other items around the house. But why does my dog eat my hair? There may be a few reasons your pup suddenly has a new chew toy or snack in mind.
Some dogs may eat human hair if they’re bored or attention-seeking, while others have a health issue that requires attention.
Once you know what to look out for, you will better know how to stop the behavior.
Like human babies, puppies will explore the world in the way they know how. Puppies use their mouths to familiarize themselves with what’s new to them.
Puppies chew and eat many things while they get used to their new environment, especially when they’re in the four-month-old range. Hair is an entertaining toy for them because it grabs their attention and constantly moves around.
Additionally, your puppy may like your hair because it smells like someone they love – you! When a puppy grabs onto your hair or chews on stray hairs around the house, it’s likely a natural part of their development.
What To Do
Rule out any health issues, like pica. Double-check that your puppy gets their daily nutrition with high-quality puppy food to ensure nothing is lacking in their diet.
Provide your pup with plenty of toys to chew on, like interactive toys, squeak toys, rope toys, etc. Various toy types give your dog plenty of stimuli to keep them busy.
Grab an appropriate toy to interfere with when your puppy goes for your hair or another household item you don’t want them to chew. Once your pup ages and finishes teething, they’ll likely grow out of it.
Pica or Other Health Issues
Pica is a moderately rare underlying health problem that affects dogs, humans, and other animals. Those with this condition have an overwhelming urge to eat non-food items, like your hair, their hair, or other pet’s hair.
It’s unclear what causes pica, though some researchers believe it’s a response to trauma, stress, or anxiety. You may notice this behavior in rescue dogs from a problematic previous home.
Your dog may also chew on hair as a self-soothing method when managing another health issue. In this case, your pup may aggressively chew at parts of its body, like the tail.
What To Do
Determine if your dog has pica by observing other symptoms or behaviors they’re exhibiting like
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drooling
Suppose your dog has another health condition causing them to eat hair. You may notice the above symptoms, in addition to others, like aggressively chewing the affected area, panting, whining, low posture, or other changes.
If you notice any strange behaviors in your dog, it’s best to talk with a veterinarian to diagnose your pup and create a treatment plan.
Parasite Bites or Allergies
Your dog may also chew on their hair if they have parasite bites or allergies. Sometimes, your dog may be allergic to the bites, causing extra discomfort.
Dogs will chew and attempt to pull out parasites like fleas and ticks or to manage the itchiness. You may also notice skin redness, hair loss, and sores or scabs in the affected area.
It’s also possible your dog has food allergies, which may cause your pup to scratch or chew its skin. Your dog will likely have gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea if they have a food allergy.
What To Do
Use a tick and flea comb to check for any signs of parasite activity. If you notice any fleas or ticks, contact your veterinarian to ensure your dog hasn’t contracted an illness from the parasite.
Prevent fleas, ticks, and other parasites in the future by doing the following:
- Keep a well-manicured lawn. Tall grasses make perfect homes for ticks and fleas.
- Put your dog on flea and tick prevention like a flea and tick collar. Get a recommendation from your veterinarian.
- Schedule routine vet checkups. Your veterinarian can monitor your dog’s flea and tick issues and may notice signs or symptoms that you may not.
Boredom or Attention Seeking
Your dog may chew or eat your hair because they’re bored or want attention. When your dog grabs at the hair on your head, you may react by yelling, “ow!” or “no!” Although it’s a negative reaction, it’s still a reaction.
If your dog is eating hair around the house, it may be due to boredom. Dogs will chew on or get into many unfavorable items when searching for mental stimulation.
What To Do
There are a few ways to ensure your dog is rarely bored. By keeping your dog’s brain occupied, they’ll be less likely to chew on things they aren’t supposed to.
A tired dog is a more well-behaved dog. When you tire your dog out, they’ll likely take a nap rather than get into trouble when you leave.
Every dog requires a different level of physical activity, so ask your veterinarian for your dog’s specific requirements.
Not only does your pup need physical stimulation, but mental stimulation as well. Try playing interactive games with your pup to challenge its mind.
Play tug-of-war or purchase an interactive toy they can play with. You may also hide small treats in toys around the house, so your dog needs to put its brain to work searching for them.
Train Your Dog
Training helps teach your dog good and bad and stimulates their mind. Start with basic obedience training like sit, stay, etc.
Once your dog nails the basics, you can move on to more complex commands like roll over or play dead. Not only will the new tricks be impressive to show off at parties, but they will also help build a stronger connection with you.
Stress and anxiety can cause your pup to chew on things, like hair, but create other behavioral issues. Dog anxiety can affect any breed, though it looks different with every dog.
Like humans, dogs feel stressed or anxious from time to time. However, having high anxiety levels over a long period may lead to an anxiety disorder.
Dog anxiety is often one of the following:
- Separation anxiety
- Fear anxiety
- Aging anxiety
Take note of when your dog seems to exhibit destructive behaviors to help determine if stress or anxiety is the cause.
What To Do
There are many signs and symptoms associated with dog anxiety, like:
- Excessive barking
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Destructive behavior
If you notice any of the above symptoms, talk with a veterinarian so they can identify the anxiety type and possible triggers.
There are several treatment options for dog anxiety your dog may recommend.
So, Why Does My Dog Eat My Hair?
Dogs may eat your hair, their fur, or other pets’ fur for several reasons like health issues, allergies, or pure boredom. It may also be normal puppy behavior.
You’ll need to identify the cause of the behavior to find the right solution. If you notice any other bizarre behaviors in tandem with your dog’s hair-eating tendencies, contact your veterinarian to rule out any health issues and determine the best course of action.