It is quite normal behaviour for your dog to lick or bite their paws. Many dog owners will have seen their dog licking or chewing their paws at some point.  Perhaps to clean themselves or relieve an itch. But excessive paw chewing can be a sign of an underlying problem. In this blog, we look at reasons why dogs chew their paws and try to answer the question “Why do dogs chew their paws?”

Are they in pain?

If your dog is chewing their paws, it is important firstly to check for an injury. They could be biting or chewing to relieve discomfort.

Have a good look to see if there’s anything obvious that could be causing them pain. A bite or a sting? A cut on their paw? Something stuck in or between their pads? If it is obvious and a simple injury you should be able to self treat at home with salty water.

Even if there’s nothing obvious to the naked eye, you might need to check with your vet. There may be an internal injury or situation which is affecting nerves, muscles or tendons. 

Allergies?

your dog is chewing their paws, you may also see that they have very dry pads or itchy pads. Perhaps he is allergic to something. When a dog is allergic to something - an ingredient in their food, pollen, a new grooming or household product – the reaction can give your dog itchy skin resulting in them chewing their paws. You may also notice your dog scratching or biting other areas of the body, as well as paw chewing to relieve any itchiness.

If there some irritation, you may need to figure out what has caused it. Have you walked somewhere new? Has something new been brought into the house? What can changed in his environment? Removing or changing something may alleviate the irritation but you may need to consult your vet for further clarification or help to relieve irritation.

Dry or Itchy Skin?

Some dogs suffer from dry skin. This can cause itchiness and therefore can lead to paw chewing. Over-bathing, heat or harsh shampoos can dry your dog’s coat of natural oils. Therefore worsening your dog’s skin and coat health and adding to their paw chewing.

Boredom?

Sometimes the reason your dog is chewing his paws so much is because he is bored. Boredom can sometimes lead to destructive behaviours. This can include paw chewing. If dogs are left alone for extended periods, they may chew their paws out of boredom. His paws are easily reached and if he has nothing else to do, he may be doing it as something to do. If he is left on his own for long periods with no toys or distractions, his paws are an easy target. Try leaving him with some safe fun chew toys, or a blanket that smells of you to comfort him until you come home. 

Stress and Anxiety?

Chewing of paws can become a compulsive behaviour. This could be a result of stress or anxiety. Your dog may be using it as a coping mechanism when they feel stress or anxiety. Keep an eye on triggers such as changes in routine, fears and phobias, and being left alone. 

How to Stop Your Dog Chewing Their Paws

You need to understand why your dog is chewing their paws firstly. Hopefully this blog has given you some things to consider and to be aware of. If the reason is not obvious, contact your vet. They will be able to figure out with you what is causing your dog to chew their paws. And they will be able to recommend solutions. The sooner this is addressed, the happier you and your dog will be.  

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