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Do Dogs Eat Fur?

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Published: 10/8/2021

Any pet parent with a canine compadre will know how much their woofer sheds, but do dogs eat fur? For example, what if your Goldendoodle puppy eats their own fur, or likes to chew on their sibling's neck and eat their fur?

If you're not used to this sort of behavior, you might be wondering if it's normal for a dog to eat fur and if it's harmful. Read on to find out all you need to know about your dog eating fur.


Is it safe for dogs to eat fur?

Excessive licking and fur eating is unhealthy for dogs. While it's unlikely to cause any significant health risks, eating fur could be a symptom of an underlying physical or mental condition. However, you shouldn't worry about your dog ingesting the odd hair — it'll pass through your canine’s digestive system without issue.

Pain in a particular area of your dog’s body could also cause them to groom excessively. For example, if you have an elderly dog suffering from arthritis, they may lick their joints in the hope that it eases the discomfort or pain. If you notice your dog is targeting a specific area, press lightly to see if your dog is experiencing any pain. If so, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Excessive eating of fur, especially when a dog is licking a specific area of their body, could lead to a condition known as acral lick dermatitis. Also known as lick granuloma, acral lick dermatitis usually occurs on a dog's front legs and is typically a symptom of something else. Acral lick dermatitis can lead to alopecia, thickening of a dog's skin, and sores.


Can dogs get furballs?

Though rare, it's possible for dogs to get hairballs from eating fur. While we all think of cats as getting furballs, they aren't as common as you'd think among both canines and felines. If your dog has a furball, symptoms include gagging, vomiting, and loss of appetite. That said, these symptoms are general and may vary.

Many people say that you can treat furballs in dogs by giving your pup liquid paraffin. While regarded as safe, liquid paraffin can be dangerous for dogs. Your dog may inhale liquid paraffin by accident, as it has no taste. Always consult your vet before giving your dog liquid paraffin. 

You're better off taking your dog directly to a vet if you think they have a furball. Liquid paraffin may not work, and blockages caused by furballs can be serious. Your dog may have to undergo surgery to remove a stuck furball.

Paying for surgery to remove a hairball out of pocket can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.


Why does my dog eat fur?

There are several possible reasons why your dog is eating theirs or another dog's fur. If you are unsure of the cause, consult your vet, who may be able to diagnose the cause of excessive grooming and eating of fur.


Physical reasons for dogs eating fur

As mentioned, several underlying health conditions could cause your dog to eat fur. One of the most common reasons why dogs eat fur is due to parasites. Ticks, fleas, worms, and mange can all cause itchy patches on your dog's skin. To get rid of the itch, your dog may excessively groom a specific spot in the hope of ridding themselves of the nasty parasite. 

It's also possible for pica to cause your dog to eat fur. Pica is an obsessive-compulsive behavior that causes dogs to eat and chew non-food items, commonly plastics, clothing, leaves, and even feces. The exact reason for pica isn't always clear and can be due to many health conditions ranging from anxiety to diabetes.

Another common reason for your dog eating fur is an allergic reaction. There are a number of foods and chemicals that could cause skin irritation. For example, your dog could be having an allergic reaction to their new doggy shampoo. If you think your pup has an allergy, take them to the vet for an allergy test.


Psychological reasons for dogs eating fur

Boredom is perhaps the most common reason dogs groom excessively. If your dog lacks stimulation through toys and walks, they may groom themselves because they have nothing better to do or because they’re anxious about their current routine. If you notice your dog eating their fur and grooming excessively, try taking them for an extra walk each day or getting some new toys.

Pet parents who spend most of their days at work may also have a pup that's suffering from separation anxiety. A symptom of separation anxiety is destructive behavior, which could include biting at their own or another dog's fur. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, try giving them some extra training. Or, hire a sitter or walker occasionally to keep them company.


Instinctual reasons for dogs eating fur

Despite being domesticated, dogs still rely on instinct in some situations. Often, instinct can alter a dog's behavior, especially when they're a puppy. 

A young pup that's new to the world is inherently curious, and they may eat fur because it's something new and they enjoy the sensation. You can try to stop this strange curiosity by distracting your puppy with a toy or training them to "come when called" or "leave it."

Dogs groom themselves to keep themselves clean, so they may be licking a specific area if they've rolled in something foul. However, this behavior should stop after a couple of days. Bathe your pup if they're licking excessively after a long walk in the countryside.


Why do dogs eat other dogs' fur?

So, we've worked out a few possible reasons why your Goldendoodle eats their own hair, but what if they're eating the fur of one of their four-legged friends? "Unfurtunately", there's no clear answer to why some dogs eat another's fur.

Many of the possible reasons dogs eat other dogs' fur are the same as why they eat their own. It could be due to boredom or a health condition like pica. It could also be to do with your house's hierarchy, with one dog trying to assert themselves over the other. 

Whatever the reason, eating fur isn't good for your dog. Consulting a vet, providing more stimulation, and brushing up on training should help stop your dog from eating fur. 

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