Why Do Dogs Eat Hair? Common Reasons 2023

Medically Reviewed By Pet Expert

Dogs are notorious for eating weird things that most humans would never consider edible.

Many dog owners have found objects like rocks, sticks, or socks in their pet’s poop and often wonder why dogs eat these things, let alone so frequently.

Even stranger is that some dogs seem to eat hair specifically, which can concern new owners who don’t know much about this behavior.

Fortunately, many logical explanations exist for why your dog might eat hair. Eating things like hair, sticks, and other non-food objects are known as pica behavior and is uncommon in dogs.

There are many reasons a dog might engage in this activity, commonly referred to as “gassy eating” by vets and pet owners. Let’s take a look at some of the more common reasons why dogs eat hair specifically:

Common Reasons Why Dogs Eat Hair

Nutritional deficiency

A nutritional deficiency is one of the most common reasons dogs might eat hair.

Nutritional deficiency

Dogs need many different minerals and vitamins to stay healthy, but unfortunately, not all these nutrients are bioavailable in dogs’ foods.

When certain nutrients are lacking from a dog’s diet, their bodies react by directing its attention to survival needs.

This is a normal physiological process that means your dog’s body will attempt to find nutrients elsewhere to meet its needs. Suppose your dog is not ingesting sufficient amounts of vitamins or minerals.

In that case, it may try to acquire extra nutrients by eating other things like hair, plants, or other inedible items.

Dogs that eat hair frequently may be experiencing a nutritional deficiency, especially if there is a significant amount of hair in the vomit or stool.

This can sometimes be remedied with dietary changes or supplementation.


Behavioral issue

Another reason why dogs eat hair is due to behavioral issues. It’s important to note that many of the same things that cause nutritional deficiencies also cause behavioral problems.

If you’re not meeting your dog’s dietary needs, they may try to supplement their diet with non-food items.

Behavioral issue

This type of pica behavior can happen when your dog engages in destructive or attention-seeking behaviors like chewing or barking.

Eating hair can be a way for your dog to self-soothe or redirect their attention from other, more dangerous behaviors.

An excessive amount of hair in your dog’s vomit or stool might indicate a behavioral problem.

If your dog has engaged in other destructive behaviors, you may want to consult a veterinarian or a certified behaviorist to help you correct the behavior.


Relieve gastrointestinal upset

Another possible reason why dogs eat hair is to relieve gastrointestinal upset. Dogs often eat grass to expel built-up toxins from their systems, and hair is a similar substance.

Relieve gastrointestinal upset

While it may seem strange that dogs eat hair instead of grass, hair is more readily available in many environments and can be ingested in larger quantities.

While consuming hair may not cure your dog’s gastrointestinal issues, it may provide temporary relief until the issue is resolved.

If your dog eats hair often, keeping a journal of its diet and symptoms may be helpful to rule out this cause.


Due to A deficiency in micronutrients

Finally, another possible reason dogs eat hair is a deficiency in micronutrients. While dogs only require a small number of essential vitamins and minerals, some are more important than others.

Some vitamins and minerals are more bioavailable than others, even though a multivitamin can help fill nutritional gaps.

Due to A deficiency in micronutrients

Furthermore, dogs have different diets and metabolisms and may require different amounts of certain nutrients.

If one or more of your dog’s dietary needs are not met, they may try to supplement their diet with other substances like hair.

Notice that your dog frequently eats an inch. It may be helpful to be aware of your dog’s typical diet and to speak with a veterinarian about any potential deficiencies.


Attention Seeker

Finally, another possible explanation for why dogs eat hair is that they are seeking attention. Dogs often engage in pica behavior when they are bored or have not received enough attention from their owners.

When owners are not paying enough attention to their pets, they may try to intervene in ways that are not always helpful.

Attention Seeker

When dogs begin to engage in pica behavior, many owners physically attempt to remove the non-food items from their mouths.

While this may be helpful in some cases, it can reinforce the behavior in others. When dogs eat things like hair, it may be because they are bored or seek attention from their owners.

If you notice that your dog eats hair frequently and you’re paying attention to them, you may want to try to redirect their attention to other activities.


Born with a congenital condition

Finally, some rare congenital conditions may cause dogs to eat hair. One example is pica paksorn syndrome, characterized by an insatiable appetite for hair and sometimes skin.

Born with a congenital condition

Another condition called trichotillomania can cause dogs to pull out their fur and ingest it compulsively.

Suppose you notice that your dog is eating hair, and they do not have any of the other possible explanations.

In that case, you may want to contact a veterinarian to rule out any congenital conditions.



Another reason dogs may eat hair that is not necessarily a health concern is allergies.


While some dogs eat hair due to a lack of nutrients or a desire for attention, others may eat hair because they are allergic to it.

If your dog is eating hair and you also notice other allergy symptoms like itchy skin, it may be allergic to the hair.

If your dog is eating hair frequently, keeping a journal of its symptoms and diet may be helpful to rule out this cause.


Anesthesia Sensitivity

Finally, dogs that have to undergo frequent anesthesia may develop an intolerance to the compounds they are exposed to while they are under.

If your dog has had to be under anesthesia in the past, it may be helpful to keep track of the amount of hair they are eating.

Anesthesia Sensitivity

When dogs ingest hair, they also ingest a substantial amount of lint and dirt.

If your dog has had to have anesthesia in the past, it may be sensitive to these compounds.

When dogs are exposed to compounds they are sensitive to or allergic to; their immune systems attempt to repel these substances by producing histamine.

When made, histamine can cause inflammation and irritation in the body and may lead to symptoms like itching or scratching.


Other possible explanations

As we’ve seen, there are many possible reasons why dogs may eat hair. It’s important to note that not all of these reasons are harmful to your dog.

While eating non-food items is not optimal, it is not necessarily dangerous.

That being said, knowing your dog’s health can improve when they eat hair may be helpful.

When dogs eat hair, they ingest lint, and other debris often found on carpets. This can help dogs who are sensitive to these substances relieve their symptoms.

Additionally, hair can provide your dogs with minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc, as well as protein and B vitamins. This means that if your dog is eating hair frequently, it may benefit their health.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If you’re concerned about your dog eating hair, there are many ways to prevent and discourage this behavior.

First, you can encourage your dog to chew on more appropriate items, like chew toys or even healthy foods like carrots or sweet potatoes.

You can also try redirecting your dog’s attention with fun activities like playing fetch or tug-of-war.

If you have ruled out the above explanations, you can also consider cutting your dog’s hair short.

This can make it less appealing to eat and can help to prevent other hair-related issues like matting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog licking hair off the floor?

The most likely reason your dog is licking hair off the floor is that they enjoy the taste or texture of it. Some dogs also lick things as a way of self-soothing, or because they’re anxious, your dog may be licking hair off the floor to calm themselves down. If your dog is licking fur off the floor excessively, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue like allergies or gastrointestinal problems, so it’s best to bring them to the vet to rule out any medical causes.

Why does my dog eat dust and hair?

Your dog may be eating dust and hair because it lacks certain nutrients. Dogs need a well-balanced diet that includes all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. If your dog is not getting enough of these nutrients, it may eat things like dust and hair. If you think your dog may be lacking nutrients, talk to your veterinarian about changing its

Why does my dog want to eat my hair?

It’s not uncommon for a dog to eat human hair. After all, dogs don’t have taste buds, so they’re more likely to be attracted to the texture and scent of your hair. It’s not dangerous or harmful for your dog to eat your hair. There are reasons why your dog may be attracted to your hair. One reason is that dogs are likely drawn to dark colors and the smell of your hair products. Another reason is that human hair is similar in texture and color to the fur on a dog’s back and underside. Dogs may also chew on your hair because it provides comfort and stress relief.

Amy Brown
Amy E. Brown is a licensed psychotherapist (serving and author of three self-help books. She’s also a dog rescuer in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Her life-long love of literature and writing developed from her passion for author Jackie Collins novels. She discovered at the age of 12 that she wanted to become a published author. She is a Quora contributor who writes about mental health and addiction issues in both the United States and throughout the world. She is the owner and founder of Blamberg & Associates LLC, which is a private practice specializing in psychological and addiction issues. She has been working with physically and emotionally scarred people for over 30 years.