If you have a dog, chances are you’ve seen him licking or chewing his paws at least once. In some cases, it’s important to pay attention to this behavior because it can be a cause of concern.
Most of the time, a dog will lick or chew his paws because something is bothering him, hurting him, or making him feel uncomfortable. Other times it could be the reaction to some kind of anxiety or a medical condition.
Why Do Dogs Chew on Their Paws?
It’s common behavior for your dog to chewing and licking his paws, especially the front ones. This is a normal dog’s behavior and they might simply want to groom themselves.
However, you should be concerned if the chewing has suddenly become obsessive and extended over a long period of time. A dog’s compulsive paw chewing can be a sign of a serious health condition.
Below we’ll take a look at some of the most common causes for paw chewing, and give you some tips to get your dog to stop chewing his paws.
Like humans, dogs develop seasonal allergies, which is one of the main causes of paw chewing.
Your dog might start developing allergies after you use certain grooming products on him. Be mindful of what cleaning products you use to clean your carpet as they might cause irritation on your dog’s paws.
Make sure to keep your dog off the grass if you’ve just used any pesticide in your backyard. This can cause all sorts of skin rash and irritations on your dog.
If you suspect that your dog chews his paws because of some type of allergy or other skin problem, you should make an appointment with your local veterinarian.
It’s important to determine and solve the cause of the allergy. Letting your dog chew on his paws indefinitely will worsen the situation, and will end up making wounds that could lead to infection.
Anxiety or Depression
Stress, anxiety, or depression, even boredom can also cause your dog to chew or lick his paws excessively.
Anxiety usually occurs because your dog lacks physical activity. Your dog will chew on their paws as a method of self-soothing when they experience anxiety.
It’s recommended to not leave your dog alone for too long. Spend time with them and when you notice the excessive chew, try to redirect their attention to their favorite toy or game or take them for a walk.
The winter season and arid climates can be particularly difficult for dogs as it can dry out their skin. Dry skin flakes can be itchy and very painful, which makes your dog chew on his paws.
If you live in a humid area and your dog’s skin is still dry that might be an indication of low-quality food. You need to feed your dog a well-balanced diet with fatty acids, as they help protect and moisture his skin and coat.
Infections are another big cause of paw chewing in dogs. When your dog has an infection, either from a badly healed wound or treated fungi, if it’s not promptly treated, your dog will try to relieve the pain by chewing the infected area.
It can be very difficult to determine the infection on your own especially if it caused by mites. A trip to the nearest vet will help you confirm if your dog’s chewing is being caused by a parasite.
Cysts or Lumps
In many cases, the excessive chewing is due to the fact that your dog noticed a small cyst or lump somewhere on his paws. Since it’s something new and most likely bothering him, he’ll try to get rid of it by licking and chewing the area of the paw where the cyst is located.
Other Reasons Dogs Chew Their Paws
There are other reasons for your dog to chew his paws, such as an insect or parasite bite, a scratch, a broken nail, or a splinter that he’s trying to remove, etc.
Examine his paws for any injury, swelling, and redness. Your dog might be licking his paws trying to heal an injury.
It also can be just hygiene, as we mentioned before. Dogs usually clean their paws when they’re dirty. So it’s totally normal to see them licking their paws for a while. However, they usually stop after a few minutes.
Some Commons Dog Paw Problems
These are some of the most common dog’s paws problems that if treated can help your dog to stop chewing on his paws.
Cuts and cracks: Any small or sharp element may be able to create a deep wound in the dog’s paws. From broken bottles in the parks to broken shells (and glass) on the beach to lack of hydration and excessive wear encourage the appearance of annoying cracks.
Burns: They appear mostly on light-colored pads, or in the areas between the fingers, and are caused by surfaces that are too hot, such as asphalt in summer for example.
Hyperkeratosis: This is the excessive thickening of the pad and is common in older or overweight dogs.
When to Take Your Dog to the Vet
You should take your dog to the vet if he chews his paws for the following reasons:
How to Protect Your Dog’s Paws
We can harden and strengthen our furry friend’s paws so that they become more resistant to the conditions that cause them to wear out. For more in-depth instructions on how to protect your dogs’ paws, follow this simple 9-step paw care routine.
In this way, we will avoid the appearance of sores and wounds from contact with the ground under certain conditions.
Prevent your dog from walking for too many hours at a time if he’s not used to it. The continuous friction with the ground can also cause the callus layer to erode.
Check the condition of their paws regularly.
Spend time and play with your dog to give him the opportunities to burn off all his energy in a healthy way.
Include in his diet essential fatty acids derived from fish oils for their beneficial effect on the skin.
Give your dog a balanced diet, varying between food and homemade food based on meat with vegetables, oats, etc.
Deworm your dog regularly.
Control the areas where it runs and plays to avoid possible injuries.
Skin diseases are the most common cause of dogs constantly chewing their paws. It can be produced by anxiety or boredom but also food allergies, as well as secondary infections from fungi and bacteria, which can make it worse.
If you think the cause of your dog chewing its paws is an infection, allergy, or injury, you need to take him to the vet as soon as possible.
Remember, paw chewing can be annoying but is quite normal. Does your dog usually chew his paws? What methods do you use to help it? Let us know in the comments section below.