How to Keep My Dog From Swallowing His Hair

If a dog is eating his own hair he may suffer from a disorder called pica. Pica is marked by compulsive consumption of non-food, inedible items. A puppy will often ingest non-food items during the exploratory phase of its growth, but should outgrow the behavior by about six months of age. Pica in older dogs is often the result of boredom or improper nutrition. Distracting the dog from the unwanted hair eating, using bitter apple spray, and improving the dog's nutrition may help control or eliminate pica.

Things You'll Need

  • Premium dog food
  • Bitter apple spray
  • Treats
  • Treat-dispensing dog toys


    • 1

      Groom the dog. Keeping the dog clean and well-groomed will prevent hair-eating that may be caused by itchy skin and shedding fur.

    • 2

      Clean the dog's environment. Vacuum regularly if the dog is eating loose hairballs.

    • 3

      Spray the dog's fur with bitter apple spray, available at pet stores. The compound is non-toxic but has an unpleasant taste that discourages licking, which can lead to swallowing hair.

    • 4

      Exercise your dog. Boredom is often the cause of pica, as well as other problem behaviors. Walking your dog regularly, playing fetch, and taking it to dog parks to play with other dogs will occupy his time and tire him out so that he won't have the desire or energy to engage in pica.

    • 5

      Change the dog's diet to a high-quality food. Pica can sometimes be the result of improper nutrition.

    • 6

      Monitor your dog so that you can distract him with treats or a walk if he starts to engage in the behavior. Use chew bones and treat-dispensing dog toys to occupy him, especially when you are away from home.

    • 7

      Consult with your veterinarian. If the dog's hair eating is compulsive and you cannot break him of the habit, ask your vet about medications to treat compulsive behavior.

    • 8

      Enlist the aid of an animal behavior specialist. A certified applied animal behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist may be able to help. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or your veterinarian can help you locate a professional in your area.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images

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