Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws?

Ive been known to put my foot in my mouth. But dogs do it on purpose. So, why do dogs chew their feet? The answer isnt as straightforward as you might think. Sure, theres a simple explanation for the behavior. A dog is essentially trying to scratch the itch, says Christopher Pachel, DVM, owner of the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon. But finding the cause of foot chewing can be complicated. It can be multiple different things, Dr. Pachel says. This is not one size fits all.

How can I get my dog to stop chewing his paws?

Eliminating parasites. There are a variety of flea and tick products that your veterinarian can recommend. ….Changing foods. ….Using medication. ….Preventing the behavior. ….Addressing anxiety or boredom.

What does it mean when a dog chews on his paws?

As with other dog behaviors, there can be several reasons that lead dogs to lick or chew their paws. These include injuries ; skin problems; environmental, parasite, or food allergies; and boredom or anxiety.

Its vitally important for pet owners to know when a behavior is normal and when its something to worry about. Dogs self-groom by licking their paws. If your dog is occasionally licking for the purpose of cleaning, then thats normal and nothing to be concerned about. If your dog is biting their paws or is excessively and intensely licking their paws, then thats a cause for concern and you may want to consult your veterinarian.

If your dog has a parasite, such as mange or fleas, their paws may itch, causing them to lick. Check your dog for flea bites and mange spots, which are caused by mites.

Food Dust Grass Trees Mold Insects Weeds Lawn treatment chemicals Fish oil (naturally anti-inflammatory) Medicated shampoos Antihistamines Oral antibiotics (for severe cases) If you see that your dog is biting or excessively licking one paw in particular, check to make sure theres not a small injury-causing irritation.

Speak to your veterinarian if you cant figure out why your dog is excessively licking or biting their paws. Your vet should be able to help you pinpoint whats going on and if theres a health or behavioral issue they can advise you on how to manage it. The first thing that you should do if you notice your dog licking or biting at their paws is check for visual clues of the cause.

Sometimes you can see discoloration or a rash, so you know exactly what is causing the pain or discomfort and can inform your vet about it during your visit. Punctures Burns Foreign bodies such as ticks or fleas Glass Splinters Bleeding Swelling Redness Odor Be on the lookout for any other behavior that may be a sign of pain, such as limping or lack of movement.

As with other dog behaviors, there can be several reasons that lead dogs to lick or chew their paws. These include injuries; skin problems; environmental, parasite, or food allergies; and boredom or anxiety.

Your dog may have irritated his paw by stepping on something sharp, walking on salted or hot sidewalks, being stung by a bee , or getting a blister. If the paw pads and feet appear normal, the licking could be due to a skin condition (dermatitis), which often is the result of bacterial problems , allergies , or food sensitivities .

Your dog could develop dermatitis by being allergic to chemicals used in your yard , deicing products, or certain types of grass or weeds. Finally, a dog that is experiencing pain due to arthritis or other foot or leg conditions may lick his paws.

Is your dog too into his paws lately? Is she slurping and chewing away on her own mode of transportation, or oddly licking on her feet and toes? Such behavior not only seems strange (and unbecoming around guests!), but it can be cause for concern. How much is too much?

But food allergies develop frequently among dogs and often result in skin irritation that affects various parts of the body. Some dogs develop reactions to particular proteins in their food (beef, lamb, dairy, chicken, wheat, eggs, corn, or soy), but its difficult to identify the offending ingredient on your own.

Fleas, ticks, and mites most certainly cause itchy sensations, and your dog may try to address the problem by licking away or chewing out the little buggers. Ticks are easiest to find, but mites are rarely visible, and fleas are difficult to pinpoint unless theyve run rampant on your dog. If you cant identify another cause for your dogs behavior, talk to your vet about parasites, particularly if youre not already providing regular treatment for ticks and fleas.

Licking the paws may temporarily soothe a dogs nervous system when he feels too much or doesnt receive enough play, stimulation, or affection.

Your Dog Has Food Allergies

If your dog is excessively licking or biting their paws, one possibility is that your dog has food allergies. Food allergies can make your dog’s paws itchy, which can lead them to bite or lick. Talk to your vet about your dog’s food for recommendations on specific food and potential ingredient allergies.

Your Dog Has a Parasite

If your dog has a parasite, such as mange or fleas, their paws may itch, causing them to lick. Check your dog for flea bites and mange spots, which are caused by mites. These parasites are tiny, so even if you don’t see physical evidence of them, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian, who can determine if there’s a parasite involved and recommend any necessary treatment.

Injuries

The first step to take, especially if the licking begins very suddenly and is focused on one paw, is to examine the paws to make certain there is not an injury such as a cut, torn nail, growth, or perhaps a stone, thorn, or ice ball stuck between the pads. Look closely at the nails, between the toes and pads, and at the tops of the feet.Your dog may have irritated his paw by stepping on something sharp, walking on salted or hot sidewalks, being stung by a bee, or getting a blister. Some of these problems can be relieved by a simple first aid treatment, while others might require treatment by a veterinarian.

Dermatitis

If the paw pads and feet appear normal, the licking could be due to a skin condition (dermatitis), which often is the result of bacterial problems, allergies, or food sensitivities. Your dog could develop dermatitis by being allergic to chemicals used in your yard, deicing products, or certain types of grass or weeds. Keeping a bowl of water and a towel near the door to gently clean off the paws when you come inside could help.

Parasites

Parasite infections such as fleas or mange can cause the paws to be very itchy. Your veterinarian can recommend treatments to eliminate the parasites, which should relieve the itching.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are known to cause itchy paws, and these types of allergies are difficult to pinpoint. Your vet may suggest a special diet or elimination of certain ingredients in your dog’s food to try to alleviate the problem.

Pain

Finally, a dog that is experiencing pain due to arthritis or other foot or leg conditions may lick his paws. Even if the pain is somewhere else in their body, some dogs will try to deal with it by licking a front paw continuously. This requires diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian.

Behavioral Issues

If you and your veterinarian have ruled out all of the above problems, than your dog may be suffering from boredom or a behavioral problem such as anxiety. Again, this is difficult to diagnose, but there are some steps you can take to help. Some dogs develop compulsive behaviors, which include paw licking.To alleviate boredom, try taking your dog for more walks, runs, or playtime with you and with other dogs to use up more mental and physical energy. Give him puzzle toys or safe chew toys to take his focus away from his paws.If you think anxiety, such as fear of noises or separation anxiety, may be causing him to lick his paws, there are a number of ways you can attempt to relieve the anxiety, including calming treats. A good animal behaviorist can suggest a variety of options to try.

Dry Skin

During winter months or in arid climates, dogs can experience dry skin, just like we do. But instead of moisturizing or picking up some lotion at the CVS, dogs may lick their paws to relive the itchy feeling of dry skin on their paw pads. The dry skin itself may also be an indication that your dog isn’t getting enough fatty acids in her diet. Fatty acids help keep the skin and coat healthy and flexible.If you think this might be the case, you can add a dash of olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or fish oil to your dog’s food a few times a week to address the deficiency. Or consider a skin balm formulated specifically for animals.

Allergies

Dogs can develop seasonal allergies to pollens and molds, or they may become allergic to cleaning products or chemicals in your home. But food allergies develop frequently among dogs and often result in skin irritation that affects various parts of the body.Some dogs develop reactions to particular proteins in their food (beef, lamb, dairy, chicken, wheat, eggs, corn, or soy), but it’s difficult to identify the offending ingredient on your own. However, in order for a dog to develop the allergy, she must have had prior exposure to the ingredient in question, meaning it’s likely one of the ingredients in your most tried-and-true dog food is causing the problem.Talk to your vet about what you’re feeding your dog and explore how you might make nutritional changes that prevent skin irritation.

Injury

By licking the paws (sometimes too much), your dog may be nursing an injury, such as a wound or puncture to the toe pads, or possibly a fractured claw or toe. If your dog is particularly active, or has been running off-leash in new terrain, this could be the best explanation.Always be sure to check the paw (or any area that’s overly groomed) for some initiating cause. Look for visible signs of injury to the area.Keep an eye out for a splinter or burr or any cuts or tears and cuts to the paw pads.

Parasites

Fleas, ticks, and mites most certainly cause itchy sensations, and your dog may try to address the problem by licking away or chewing out the little buggers.Ticks are easiest to find, but mites are rarely visible, and fleas are difficult to pinpoint unless they’ve run rampant on your dog.If you can’t identify another cause for your dog’s behavior, talk to your vet about parasites, particularly if you’re not already providing regular treatment for ticks and fleas.

Psychological Upset

Dogs—and many animals, humans included—will over-groom themselves when they feel anxious, lonely, depressed, or bored.Licking the paws may temporarily soothe a dog’s nervous system when he feels “too much” or doesn’t receive enough play, stimulation, or affection.Of course, some dogs are naturally anxious, particularly when mom or dad leave the house. Rescue dogs may have experienced neglect or abuse that turned amplified their anxiety and fear. Observe when your dog engages in the behavior and what else is going on in the home at that time.If your dog is alone frequently, a loving dog sitter or dog walker can do wonders to help alleviate their stress.