Pirate the Chihuahua

by: Dr. Mark Piechocinski from Mallard Point Veterinary Clinic

Pirate is a little chihuahua with a big attitude that developed the strange habit of chasing after his tail and biting at it. Pirates initial “infatuation” with his tail was noted to be brought on by a bout of parasites that he had picked up. However, after his treatment was completed and the parasites were proven to be out of the picture through thorough fecal examinations, little pirate was still in love with his tail.


His love resulted in multiple episodes of severe trauma to his tail. During one of these episodes, Pirate nearly severed an approximate 2­3cm portion of his tail. The investigation into his new behavior deep end. Typical causes for this type of behavior vary, but may include: behavioral, parasitic causes, anal gland issues, neurological/pain, or potentially urinary related. Parasitic causes were ruled out through fecal examinations, as well as examinations of the coat/skin to check for skin related parasites. A thorough rectal examination was performed to examine his anal glands, which did not reveal any significant findings. Radiographs and urine testing had been performed, and ruled out a urinary component. Little Pirate had came clean on all his tests. Behavioral aspects as well as neurological/pain related signs proved somewhat difficult to fully assess with Pirates big personality. Ultimately, based on the severe trauma this little guy caused himself, it was elected to remove a portion of his tail. Without proper care, leaving his tail with such a traumatic injury would only incite bacterial contamination, infection, pain, and general discomfort.

Pirates surgery went smoothly, and he is doing well. Although he does still occasionally chase his tail, he is no longer able to inflict any further injury to it. After ruling out many physical causes for this condition, his owners are working with him to curb what is believed to be a behavioral aspect at this point. Behavioral modification can struggling with some breeds, and may even require in some circumstances medication to aid in correction of negative behaviors. Although struggling, proper behavior modification with pets can be rewarding for both you and the pet!