From flea biting through nibbles to baby bites, there are many synonyms, and yet the activity remains mysterious. What does flea biting mean? Is it normal, or should it be adequately managed?
And, why do dogs “flea bite” each other? This is a rather popular yet poorly understood topic. The most common reason dogs flea bite each other is to express their affection and initiate play from what is currently known. However, a dog may flea bite for other reasons, too, meaning it is important to determine your dog’s flea biting trigger.
In this article, we will talk about flea biting in dogs. We will describe it and give the most common reasons why dogs flea bites themselves or other dogs. Finally, if you find flea biting annoying, we will give tips on stopping the behavior.
WHAT IS FLEA BITING IN DOGS?
Flea biting is the activity when a dog puts its mouth over a body area and starts performing rapid gnawing movements. While flea biting, it literally looks like the dog’s muzzle is vibrating. The dog uses its teeth too, but in a gentle manner – something like trying to soothe an itchy spot.
A dog can flea bite itself, but it is usually done on other dogs. Interestingly, some dogs are more likely to flea bite than others, and they tend to do it on other dogs – generally dogs they have known for long and grown to love.
WHY DO DOGS “FLEA BITE” EACH OTHER?
Honestly, the flea biting activity in dogs is not very understood. However, based on current knowledge and thorough observations, it seems like it can be triggered by various reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons dogs flea bite each other.
Flea biting reason number 1: Getting rid of fleas
There is a theory that flea biting in dogs is instinctual since the dog’s ancestors had to remove their fleas and bugs from each other. This behavior is still present in many mammals, including monkeys. So, if your dog is constantly flea biting itself, it is worth checking whether it has real fleas and if the answer is yes, keep it up-to-date on flea preventives. Fleas are not just a nuisance – they are dangerous and often carry various diseases.
Flea biting reason number 2: Grooming purposes
Although not so self-aware as cats, dogs do like to keep themselves well-groomed. Flea biting might be just that – the dog’s attempt to keep itself or other dogs properly groomed. This does not mean you are not tending to your dog’s grooming needs. Instead, your dog has different grooming standards than you do and prefers to take the matter into its own hands, or in this case, its own gnawing teeth.
Flea biting reason number 3: Playfulness and affection
This is the most common reason why dogs flea bite each other. As pack animals, dogs are used to being close with all members and expressing their love often. Flea biting and nibbling are a form of expressing love (this explains why dog flea bites other dogs they like). Also, a dog flea biting another dog may be trying to initiate play. In simple terms, the flea biting is a playing invitation.
Flea biting reason number 4: Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are more than common issues in modern dogs. A plethora of things can serve as stress triggers and make dogs anxious and agitated. Anxious dogs usually find relief in repetitive behaviors and activities, and flea biting definitely fits the description. Keep in mind that an anxious dog will show additional signs and symptoms. Working on your dog’s anxiety is a long-term process and usually requires professional help.
Flea biting reason number 5: Skin problems and itchiness
Another frequently diagnosed issue in dogs is itchiness. There are tons of medical conditions that can manifest with itchiness – from the above-explained fleas through atopic dermatitis to food allergies. A dog with such skin issues is in a constant state of discomfort because of the generalized itchiness. Flea biting is a good way to soothe the itch as it is repetitive and calming yet gentle. If you suspect your dog has a skin condition, do not hesitate to call your trusted veterinarian.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN DOGS FLEA BITE?
The exact answer to this question depends on who is getting the flea bites. If a dog is flea biting itself, it usually means it has an itchy and annoying skin condition or feels anxious. Another possibility is for the dog to have real fleas that are making it uncomfortable.
If the dog flea bites other dogs, it means it is expressing real canine behaviors. All dogs flea bite – some more intensely and frequently than others but at the end of the day, it is what they do.
Of course, there are dogs that like to flea bite their owners. In such cases, there are two options. The first option is that the dog is trying to get the owner’s attention (wants food, play, or cuddles) or simply expressing its love and affection. The second option is that the dog is trying to warn the owner. The warning flea bite is usually stronger than the regular and a sign the dog wants the owner to stop or retreat.
HOW TO GET MY DOGS TO STOP FLEA BITING?
First of all, you need to be clear about why you are trying to stop your dog from flea biting. Suppose the flea biting is a sign of affection and play invitation. In that case, there is no need to work on prevention and inhibition.
However, suppose the flea biting is due to a medical skin condition. In that case, you need to schedule a vet visit and determine the best treatment strategy for your dog. Finally, if the behavior is considered bad (too annoying for you or other dogs), you can train your dog to stop flea biting.
As in all training efforts, it is best to be calm, assertive, and patient. Discourage your dog from flea biting, focus its attention on other activities, and do not forget to reward your dog every time it listens to your commands and stops flea biting.
SUMMING UP: WHY DO DOGS FLEA BITE EACH OTHER
Flea biting in dogs is a common behavior and probably a remnant of their wild ancestral heritage. However, it can also stem from some physical problems like having actual fleas or other skin conditions that are making them nervous and uncomfortable.
If your dog is constantly flea biting itself or other dogs, you should get to the bottom of the behavior and find what is causing it. If the condition is triggered by medical issues, work with the vet. If it is due to behavioral issues, talk to a trainer or canine behaviorist.
Why does my dog flea bite me?
Dogs have different ways of expressing their love and affection for us humans. Some dogs wag their tails, others lick excessively, and there are those that like to flea bite or nibble. If your dog is flea biting on you, it can mean two things – either it seeks attention or tries to show its affection.
Why does my dog flea bite blankets?
It is not uncommon for dogs to flea bite or nibble on objects. If your dog is fond of flea biting the blanket, chances are it is feeling bored and needs more attention and stimulation. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom issues.
Why do dogs bite each other faces?
Dogs often bite each other faces, and the activity can stem from two completely opposite reasons. The first one is playing, and the second is aggression. You need to be familiar with your dog’s body language to prevent unwanted scenarios. Also, never leave your dog unsupervised with other dogs even if they have known each other for a long time.
What does it mean when dogs nibble on each other?
Nibbling is a sign of affection and playfulness. A dog nibbling on another dog is either trying to show love or initiate wrestling or chasing game. Dogs are pack animals and like to form strong bonds with all pack members. And from a dog’s point of view, nibbling is an excellent bonding experience.
Why do my dogs bite each other’s legs?
Dogs are naturally playful, and gentle bites are part of the playing games. However, if one dog keeps knocking the other dog down and biting on its legs, it might be because its ancestral hunting instincts are kicking in. However, the behavior is not dangerous as both dogs are playing, and obviously, one needs to be dominant over the other.
Is it okay for dogs to play fight?
Yes, playing fights is a perfectly natural behavior for dogs. In addition to being instinctual, playing fights is a good exercise method and helps with socialization. However, you need to be attentive and ensure the play fight does not escalate into a real fight and injuries.