As a dog owner, you will witness bizarre behaviors from your furry friend. An example of such mannerisms is your dog eating hair. It may bite off a chunk of its fur and eat it or snack on human hair.
You may get shocked when you notice your canine is eating hair, understandably so. Why does my dog eat hair, and how can I stop this vice? You are in the right place if you want answers to these questions. Buckle up as we go down the rough path of dogs eating hair.
Why Do Dogs Eat Hair?
Dogs, especially puppies, are very curious and will put anything in their mouth. From electric cables, shoes, socks, you name it; your puppy may find it appetizing. So, it is not surprising that it may snack on your hair.
The attraction to your hair is mostly due to your scent, which the canines are fond of. No need to panic if you witness this behavior in juvenile canines, as they will grow past this phase. New older dogs may also sample your hair to quench their curiosity.
2. Pica Syndrome
If your dog craves and eats non-food items, it may be suffering from pica syndrome. It is a condition that affects both humans and animals. Pica syndrome presents itself in two ways: your dog may eat various inedible items or stick to one thing.
This condition may result from hormonal imbalance, poor nutrition, stress, and anxiety. Symptoms of pica, besides the strange eating behavior, include a gloomy attitude, lethargy, and appetite loss. Other signs may come due to its consumption of the inedible material, like diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting.
Consult your pet doctor if you suspect that your dog has pica syndrome.
Many stressed pets will act up, and some, such as dogs and parrots, will resort to biting off their hair and feathers. It is a psychological issue that you may notice in recently re-homed canines. The new environment may feel too foreign to them, leading to stress and anxiety.
Look for other stress signs like aggressiveness, appetite loss, and excessive sleeping. If this is the issue, seek ways to make your furry friend feel at home.
4. Your Dog Just Wants To Play
Dogs are playful and can modify anything they find into a toy. At times, it happens that the thing they find is hair, which will be their new toy. It is a mannerism that you will mostly notice with braided hair, which will act as their chew toy.
Other times, your dog will go straight for your head and try to bite a chunk of hair. It is common for playful pups or if you spot a new and unique hairstyle.
5. A Bonding Moment
Your canine craves a bonding moment, and your hair can be your substitute in your absence. It has your scent, which will draw your pooch’s attention. It feels closer to you by munching on your hair.
Additionally, it may show your canine is trying to protect you. In the wild, dogs will eat anything with their scent to do away with it, to keep off predators. So, when it consumes your hair, it is its way of clearing your tracks from potential predators.
6. Did You Use Egg Treatment On Your Hair?
Your pup is not the one to take the blame all the time. You may be the culprit behind your dog’s attraction to your hair. For instance, if you used egg treatment on your hair, it will contain some eggy essence, especially if you didn’t clean it well.
The scent will attract your dog, and it may eat it as it tries to find the food it is smelling. Use a hair cap to keep your dog off if the treatment is fresh.
7. A Case Of Fleas Or Ticks
Parasites can cause your dog to chew on its fur. Fleas and ticks are the primary suspects in this case. They feed on your dog’s blood and make its body their home. The presence of these parasites makes your furry friend uncomfortable. You will notice excessive itching followed by rough biting on its fur.
You can inspect its body and fur to check for these tiny insects. A pesticide bath is a solution to this menace.
When your dog is down with an allergy, it may be itchy. It will try to scratch itself, and at times it may bite to control the itch.
How do you know it is an allergy? You will have to check on other symptoms, like drooling, sneezing, tissue swelling, and diarrhea. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has an allergic reaction.
9. Your Dog Wants Your Attention
Canines need your attention, and they may act up in many ways to get it. Eating hair is one of them. Some dogs may go for your head and playfully lick or bite your hair to signal that it is their playtime.
Why Your Dog Should Not Eat Hair
You should not tolerate your dog eating hair due to the following effects.
Choking And Intestinal Blocking
Hair is dense and hard to digest. If your dog eats human hair, it may pass through the digestive tract and out of the body as stool. The problem is the potential choking risk when your dog eats a lot of hair. You may have to deal with intestinal blockage if the hair accumulates in the lower digestive tract.
It is a tricky situation that can lead to tummy upsets and constipation. Surgery might be the only solution to dealing with hair buildup in the intestinal tract.
Chemicals In The Hair
Most of us use tons of products to style our hair. When dogs eat it, they ingest the chemicals, which can cause poisoning and other health issues.
Deteriorated Skin Health
Dogs plucking out their fur will weaken their hair and damage the surrounding skin. You may see sores in the areas it bites off its fur. If it persists with this habit, you will notice the hair falling off due to compromised integrity from the constant biting and pulling.
Fur protects dogs from cold, physical impact, and other environmental agents. With the skin exposed, its protection depreciates.
How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Hair
Looking at the risks associated with eating hair, responsible dog owners will do what they can to curb the habit. The first step in controlling this behavior is to rule out diseases, allergies, and parasites. Talk to your vet, who can diagnose conditions like pica syndrome or whether it is a case of ticks and fleas.
Get toys for your dog if snacking on hair is an attention-seeking attempt. Furthermore, have a consistent bonding session with your pup to prevent boredom and share a fulfilling time together. Playing with your furry friend or an evening walk can ease stress and anxiety.
Behavioral training is another option. Always be patient with your dog when dealing with its abnormal eating. Punishment will stress it more, which may turn to aggressiveness, and loss of appetite, among several other secondary reactions.
You should also get rid of hair pieces in your household. Sweep them, and discard them in an area your pup cannot access.
What Will Happen If My Dog Eats Hair?
A few hair strands won’t hurt your dog as they pass with the stool. However, it may be problematic if it eats a lot of hair, as it may have a hairball that can block the intestines. This is a challenging situation that calls for your veterinarian’s attention. The vet may have to administer surgery if the blockage is severe.
Can Dogs Fall Sick After Eating Hair?
In low quantities, hair won’t harm your dog. It becomes a problem when it eats too much or if the hair has harmful chemicals. The result will be stomach upsets punctuated with vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Reach out to your pet doctor if the situation gets out of hand.
Your dog will become more susceptible to diseases and pest attacks if it eats its hair. This is due to weakened protection after exposing its skin.
What Should I Do To Make My Dog Get Rid Of Ingested Hair?
The reasonable thing to do after your dog eats hair is to call in a veterinarian. Do not induce vomiting unless under the doctor’s instructions, as it may make the situation severe. In the case of little hair consumption, you should wait for your canine to pass it in its stool.
Your dog eating hair should not surprise you, as it is common. This piece takes an in-depth look at this mannerism, bringing to light the probable causes.
The logical move after your furry friend eats hair is to be calm and watch how it reacts. Get your vet if the situation gets out of hand.
Try and stop your dog from developing the habit of eating hair to save you from an emergency trip to the veterinarian.