Have you noticed your dog chewing at their paws and nails a lot lately?
It’s not unusual for a dog to lick their paws sometimes, but if this behavior has popped up only recently, it could be a sign of another issue.
If they are licking or chewing excessively, you should take notice and look to see if there are any other noticeable symptoms that could indicate a problem.
Concerning symptoms could include pink, red, or swollen paw, bleeding, stinky paw odors, and limping.
Let’s examine a list of the most common reasons your dog could be chewing at their paws.
Reasons a Dog Chews Their Paws
- Dry Skin
- Boredom or Loneliness
- Broken or Infected Nail
Injuries to paw
There are many potential injuries to your dog’s paw that could cause them to “lick their wounds” as the old expression goes.
This could be a sign of an injury to the paw, a puncture to the toe pads, or even a fractured or broken toe. It could also be a splinter or maybe an uncomfortable burr picked up outdoors. Very active dogs can be especially prone to these kinds of injuries.
You can try to self examine the paw and look for signs of injuries. Some can be more serious than others and may require a visit to the veterinarian.
Dogs can suffer from dry skin caused by changes in the weather, just like humans can. This could especially be true during the dry months of winter. Since a dog can’t just grab a bottle of moisturizer like we would, licking their paws can provide some relief.
Dry skin can also be an indication that your dog isn’t getting enough fatty acids in their diet. These fats in your dog’s diet help keep their skin healthy and if they’re not getting them, can cause dry skin. If this is the case, some adjustments to their diet could solve the problem.
Just like humans, dogs can have allergies. These could include food allergies, reactions to seasonal pollens and molds in the air during summer months, or reactions to household chemicals.
Food allergies are often the most frequent cause of allergic reactions that can dry out and irritate their skin. If this is the case, it’s likely that an ingredient in their dog food is the culprit.
This can be harder to diagnose on your own but your vet can help you review your dog’s diet and figure out what the problem is.
Related: 5 Dangerous Houseplants that are Toxic to Dogs
Another common cause of itchiness in dogs will be parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites. Their chewing could be their way of trying to ease the discomfort or get rid of the invader.
Check your dog for ticks first because they are the one parasite that will be easy to find if that’s the problem. Mites and fleas are more challenging to find unless they’re really to the point of being out of control.
If your dog is not getting regular treatments for fleas and ticks, then this could be the problem. Your vet can also help you in this situation.
Anxiety or other psychological issues can cause your dog to chew at themselves excessively. It could be anxiety, depression, loneliness, or boredom causing them to chew.
Licking at their paws may be a way with coping
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.
Boredom or Loneliness
A dog chewing at their paws could be a symptom of boredom or loneliness, especially for some breeds of dogs that require a lot of exercise or activity.
Some dogs who aren’t getting the walks or playtime they want will find other outlets for their needs, and this can lead to troublesome behaviors. They may find outlets such as getting into things they shouldn’t, or obsessive behaviors, such as chewing.
If your schedule prevents you from giving your dog the attention they require, hiring a dog walker could really help them expend the energy they need to.
Broken or Infected Nail
Chewing at a paw or a nail could be a symptom of a broken, cracked, or infected nail. Sometimes a break at the base of the nail won’t be obvious to you but it can be a real nuisance to your dog. This could be a case of your dog licking at his wound, a type of self-soothing.
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