Dog Pulling Hair Out of Back Legs: Decoding the Mystery Behavior

As a dog owner, you might have noticed your canine companion pulling hair out of their back legs.

This behavior can be concerning and leave you wondering what could be causing it and how to address the issue. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and there are several potential causes for this behavior.

One cause could be allergies, such as flea, environmental, or food allergies, which can lead to itchy skin and discomfort for your dog. In an attempt to alleviate their itching, your dog may resort to pulling out the hair on their back legs.

Another possibility is a skin condition like atopic or seborrheic dermatitis, which can also cause excessive itching, leading your dog to chew on its leg hair. In some cases, psychological issues, such as stress or boredom, may also trigger this hair-pulling behavior.

To effectively address and manage this issue, it’s crucial to identify the underlying cause. This may require a visit to your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Why Dogs Pull Their Hair Out

Dog knawing hind legs

As a dog owner, it can be concerning to see your dog pulling hair out of their back legs. In this section, we will discuss the possible reasons why dogs engage in this behavior and steps you can take to address it.

Allergies: Dogs, like humans, can suffer from allergies. An allergic reaction to food, outdoor allergens like grass or pollen, or even household items can cause itching and irritation, leading your dog to chew on their skin and pull out their hair. If you suspect an allergy, consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and find a suitable treatment plan.

Stress and Anxiety: An anxious or stressed dog might resort to self-soothing behaviors, such as pulling out their hair. Identifying and addressing the source of your dog’s stress or anxiety can help reduce this behavior. Some potential stressors include lack of exercise, changes in routine, or a new environment. For chronic anxiety, your veterinarian may recommend a program of behavior modification, prescription medication, or both.

Parasites and Infections: A dog pulling hair out of its back legs can also be a sign of parasites like fleas, ticks, or mites. These parasites cause itching and irritation, leading your dog to chew and pull their hair out. A thorough examination by a veterinarian can identify the presence of parasites and recommend appropriate treatment. Infections, such as fungal or bacterial skin infections, can also cause itching and lead to hair pulling.

Underlying Health Issues: Sometimes, a dog may pull at their hair due to an underlying medical condition. Issues like joint pain or arthritis in the hind legs may cause your dog to chew at their fur to alleviate discomfort. If your dog is consistently pulling hair from their back legs and exhibiting signs of pain or discomfort, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Remember to keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior and if the hair pulling persists or worsens, consult your veterinarian. They can help pinpoint the cause and suggest the best course of action to reduce your dog’s discomfort and improve their overall wellbeing.

Common Causes of Hair Pulling in Dogs

dog won't stop chewing their rear legs

In this section, we’ll discuss the common causes of hair pulling in dogs which include allergies, parasites, behavioral issues, and skin conditions.


Allergies can cause your dog to feel itchy, leading to hair pulling. Common allergens include:

  • Food allergies: Ingredients such as corn, wheat, soy, or specific proteins can be triggers.
  • Environmental allergies: Pollen, dust, or mold can cause atopic dermatitis.
  • Contact allergies: Reactions to flea collars, shampoos, or bedding materials can occur.

To identify and manage the allergens, consult your vet for the best course of action, such as hypoallergenic diets or medications.


Parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites can cause your dog to pull hair out due to the itching they cause.

  • Fleas: They feed on your dog’s blood, causing itching and hair pulling.
  • Ticks: These can lead to localized skin irritation and hair loss.
  • Mites: Mange or scabies can cause intense itching, resulting in hair pulling.

Maintain a regular parasite prevention program and seek veterinary assistance for appropriate treatments.

Behavioral Issues

Stress, anxiety, or boredom can cause your dog to develop behavioral habits like pulling hair out of their back legs. Possible triggers include:

  • Change in the environment: Moving, renovation, or addition of a new family member or pet.
  • Insufficient exercise or attention: Dogs may develop compulsive behaviors if their needs are not met.

Work with a vet or behaviorist to identify the cause and provide appropriate interventions, such as increased exercise, environmental enrichment, or behavioral modification techniques.

Skin Conditions

Various skin conditions can cause your dog discomfort and lead to hair pulling. Common conditions include:

  • Bacterial infections: Infections such as pyoderma can cause itching and hair loss.
  • Fungal infections: Ringworm or yeast infections can result in hair pulling due to itchiness.
  • Dry skin: Seasonal changes or nutritional deficiencies can cause dry skin and hair pulling.

Consult your veterinarian to diagnose and treat any underlying skin conditions. Providing your dog with proper grooming and a balanced diet can also help maintain healthy skin and prevent hair pulling.

Diagnosing Hair Pulling in Dogs

Physical Examination

Your veterinarian will begin the diagnosis process with a thorough physical examination. During the examination, they will:

  • Inspect your dog’s hair and skin
  • Check for signs of parasites, like fleas or mites
  • Examine any irritated or inflamed areas
  • Evaluate the overall health of your dog’s coat and skin

This initial examination helps the veterinarian determine if there are any obvious physical causes for your dog’s hair pulling behavior.

Laboratory Tests

In addition to the physical examination, your veterinarian may need to perform some laboratory tests to rule out potential underlying medical conditions. These tests may include:

  • Skin scraping: This test involves taking a small sample of your dog’s skin and examining it under a microscope. It can help identify parasites, fungi, or bacteria that could cause skin irritation and hair pulling.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests help your veterinarian assess your dog’s overall health and can offer insight into possible internal issues, such as hormonal imbalances or allergies, which might be contributing to the hair pulling.
  • Allergy testing: If your veterinarian suspects that your dog is suffering from allergies, they may recommend allergy testing. This could involve blood tests or skin testing to identify specific allergens that trigger your dog’s skin irritation.

Behavioral Assessment

If physical examination and laboratory tests do not reveal any medical reasons for your dog’s hair pulling behavior, your veterinarian may consider it a behavioral issue. In this case, they might:

  • Observe your dog’s behavior and environment
  • Ask you about your dog’s daily routine, including exercise, play, and interaction with other animals
  • Assess any recent changes in your dog’s life that could be causing stress or anxiety

By assessing your dog’s behavior and environment, your veterinarian can better understand the potential psychological triggers for the hair pulling and work with you to develop a plan to address it.

Treatment Options for Hair Pulling in Dogs

Treatment options for a dog chewing on legs

Medical Treatments

If your dog is pulling hair out of their back legs, it’s essential to first consult your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. Some common medical issues include:

  • Allergies: Your vet may prescribe antihistamines and fatty acid supplements to alleviate the itching.
  • Parasites: Fleas or other parasites can cause discomfort. Your vet may prescribe an insecticide to alleviate the problem.

Remember, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s advice and medication recommendations for your dog’s specific condition.

Behavioral Therapies

Sometimes, hair pulling can be a result of stress or boredom. In this case, behavioral therapies might be useful:

  • Mental and physical stimulation: Ensure your dog has plenty of activities and toys to keep them entertained. Regular exercise and playtime can also help reduce stress and boredom.
  • Training: Teach your dog basic obedience commands and reinforce positive behaviors with treats and praise.
  • Monitoring: Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior, and if you notice hair pulling, redirect their attention to a more appropriate activity.

Alternative Remedies

While traditional medical treatments and behavioral therapies are essential, some alternative remedies can help alleviate your dog’s discomfort:

  • Grooming: Regular brushing can help remove excess hair and promote healthy skin.
  • Nutrition: Providing your dog with a balanced and nutritious diet may improve their overall health and reduce itching.
  • Topical treatments: Some mild, dog-specific shampoos designed for sensitive skin or hair pulling may provide temporary relief.

Always consult your veterinarian before trying any alternative remedies to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your dog’s specific needs. In summary, to address hair pulling in dogs, it is crucial to identify the cause, treat any underlying medical conditions, and provide mental and physical stimulation to promote a happy and healthy life for your furry friend.

Preventive Measures to Stop Hair Pulling

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming is essential to prevent your dog from pulling hair out of their back legs. It helps in:

  • Removing tangles and mats: Brushing your dog’s fur regularly can help prevent tangles and mats that cause discomfort and lead to hair pulling.
  • Reducing itchiness: Grooming can minimize the accumulation of dirt and allergens that contribute to itchiness, prompting your dog to pull its hair.
  • Bonding with your dog: Regular grooming can strengthen the bond between you and your dog, reducing anxiety and stress that can trigger hair pulling behavior.

To ensure a proper grooming routine:

  1. Brush your dog’s fur at least once a week, using appropriate grooming tools for their coat type.
  2. Bathe your dog with gentle, hypoallergenic shampoos to prevent skin irritation.
  3. Trim the hair around the back legs to minimize the chances of matting or irritation.

Proper Diet

Providing your dog with a well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and coat. To support your dog’s skin and hair health:

  • Quality protein sources: Choose dog foods that contain high-quality protein sources such as chicken, beef, or fish.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your dog’s diet by providing fish oil supplements or including fish, like salmon, in their meals.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Ensure your dog’s food contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as zinc and vitamin E, to support healthy skin and hair growth.

If you’re unsure about your dog’s dietary needs, consult with your veterinarian for guidance on choosing the appropriate food.

Frequent Vet Check-Ups

Regular visits to your veterinarian can help identify and address any underlying issues that may cause your dog to pull hair from its back legs. During check-ups:

  • Discuss any concerns: Inform your vet about any changes in your dog’s behavior or health that you’ve noticed, including excessive hair pulling.
  • Routine screenings: Allow your veterinarian to perform routine screenings for allergies, parasites, and other skin conditions that may contribute to hair pulling behavior.
  • Follow treatment plans: If your vet identifies a medical condition, adhere to the prescribed treatment plan to address the issue and prevent further hair pulling.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of your dog pulling hair from its back legs and maintain their overall health and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a dog to chew and pull hair from their back legs?

A dog may chew and pull hair from their back legs due to various reasons. These can include:

  • Itching from allergies
  • Flea infestations
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Boredom or lack of stimulation
  • Pain or discomfort

It’s essential to identify the underlying cause and address it promptly to prevent further problems.

How can I stop my dog from pulling hair out of their paws?

To stop your dog from pulling hair out of their paws, you can:

  1. Consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and tailor treatment accordingly
  2. Regularly groom your dog to ensure their fur is healthy and reduces discomfort
  3. Provide sufficient physical and mental stimulation
  4. Use veterinarian-recommended protective wear or bitter-tasting sprays to discourage chewing
  5. Address any anxiety or stressors in your dog’s environment

What is the treatment for a dog chewing hair off their tail?

The appropriate treatment for a dog chewing hair off their tail depends on the cause. Here are some common approaches:

  • Allergies: Antihistamines, prescription diets, or avoiding known allergens
  • Flea infestation: Flea control medications and measures
  • Stress or anxiety: Behavior modification techniques, medications, or addressing underlying triggers

Always consult a veterinarian for a suitable, personalized treatment plan.

Which medical conditions lead to hair-pulling and eating in dogs?

Hair-pulling and eating in dogs can be linked to several medical conditions such as:

  • Allergies
  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Hormonal imbalances (e.g. hypothyroidism)
  • Compulsive behaviors or psychological issues

A veterinarian should assess your dog to determine the cause and develop a suitable treatment plan.

Will my dog’s hair grow back after they’ve pulled it out?

In most cases, your dog’s hair will grow back after they’ve stopped pulling it out. However, if the pulling behavior continues for an extended period or results in skin damage, hair regrowth might be slower or incomplete. Addressing the underlying cause and promoting a healthy environment will support hair regrowth.

How can I treat bald spots on my dog caused by hair-pulling?

Here are some steps for treating bald spots on your dog caused by hair-pulling:

  1. Consult a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and recommend treatments
  2. Keep the affected area clean and free from irritation
  3. Use calming or protective sprays to prevent further hair-pulling
  4. Help your dog avoid stressors or triggers
  5. Encourage hair regrowth with a healthy diet and appropriate supplements, if recommended by your veterinarian.

Remember, it’s crucial to work closely with a veterinarian to develop an appropriate treatment plan.