Why Is My Dog Chewing on His Paws?

Why Is My Dog Chewing on His Paws?

A dog that is chewing and licking on his paws is normal behavior and you have probably seen your dog doing this at least once.

But if your dog is excessively chewing on his paws even when they are not dirty then there is probably something wrong. You will have to differentiate normal grooming from something else.

Below are the reasons why your dog is chewing on his paws, what remedies you can use and when you should be worried.

When Chewing Paws Becomes Unnormal

It is normal for a dog to groom himself once in a while, especially after walks when the paw became dirty. They also use their paws to clean their head like cats.

You probably already know how often your dog is grooming himself every day. If the problem appears to come out of nowhere and the licking increases and persists for a longer time then there seems to be an underlying problem.

If your dog is experiencing pain, swelling, redness, bleeding or limping then he should definitely go and see a vet. Also if the licking has caused open wounds which could cause a secondary infection.

Dry Skin

Dogs can experience a dry coat due to over-bathing or too much brushing. They do not need to be bathed every week nor every month. Depending on your breed it will come down to only a few times a year.

Too much bathing will strip your dog’s skin from the healthy natural oils that protect it. You should also consider switching to a non-chemical dog shampoo as they can be really aggressive to sensitive skin.

Your dog’s paw can also dry out due to gritting salt or hot concrete streets. Always make sure that the streets or roads are safe for your dog’s sensitive paws. Hot roads can seriously hurt your dog and if it is too hot for your hand to rest on the ground, then it is too hot your dog.

Injury and Pain

If your dog has been currently running around outside, he might have injured himself by stumbling or stepping onto something.

Look out for cuts or splinters in the paw pad and if the nail is damaged or even bleeding.

Overly grooming one specific area is a good indicator of your pet having a wound. If your dog has been walking out on the hot ground in the summer that might have also irritated and burned his paws.

Try to walk your dog in the morning hours and late at night when the sun is not that hot and before stepping outside try with your hand if the ground is too hot. If you cannot keep your hand on it then it will be dangerous for your dog.

Allergies

Dogs can get all kinds of allergies, against pollen, food, and plants that can cause itchy skin, redness, and swelling.

Just like humans, dogs can even dermatitis due to skin contact with different chemicals.

To eliminate this problem, start by writing down any chemicals you use to clean the floor, wash the blankets or spray onto furniture.

It can also be caused by your dog’s current shampoo. Always switch out one thing at a time to determine which might be the cause. Try to use dog food with as few ingredients as possible or switch to a raw diet.

Mental Issues

If your dog is excessively licking his paws it might be due to stress, anxiety or boredom. Licking reduces stress hormone levels and fear.

It tends to soothe their psychological issues like depression. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety than this will probably be the cause for it. Look out for other symptoms like aggression, panting, yawning, whining, urinating or barking.

Sudden changes in the environment or household of the dog can increase stress which should be kept as low as possible. If you have a house party, try to leave him in a quiet room of the house where he can rest. Moving is also very stressful for dogs and it will take time for him to adjust.

Parasites

Parasites, like fleas, mites and ticks can befall your dog’s paws and cause itchy and red skin. If you cannot spot any ticks on his paws or body, check with your vet and see if mites and fleas could be the cause.

You can also buy your dog flea and tick collars to prevent them from biting on your dog. I wrote a whole blog post around what I believe to be the best flea and tick collars in 2019.

Boredom

Make sure that your dog gets enough mental and physical exercise every day. Boredom increases the stress level and as I said before, licking and chewing reduces it.

Depending on the breed and energy level of your dog, you will have to provide him with different exercises, like training, play, and walks. Puzzle toys are also a great way to tire out your dog and my Depending favorite will always be: hide and seek.

How to Stop Your Dog from Licking His Paws

Licking and chewing paws is a symptom. To cure this symptom you will need to first identify the cause. Start by visiting your vet for a general check. Explain to him when the licking occurs and what other symptoms your dog has.

If the vet couldn’t find any healthrelated issues then it is probably caused by mental behavior. I have plenty of articles on this blog where you can learn how to solve different behavior issues, like separation anxiety or barking to keep your dog calmer.

Ask yourself if your dog gets sufficient mental and physical exercise per day and it is not left alone for too long. Are you training and playing with him every day? Do you provide him with opportunities to play with other dogs (dog park, play classes) and does he seem to be bored? You can also consult a behaviorist if you are not sure what to do.

Home Remedies For Itchy Paws

Below you will find some home remedies for the different causes mentioned above:

Changing Diet for Food Allergies

Consult your vet on a diet change that will eliminate the food allergy. It is best to start with a simple diet consisting of only a few ingredients like cooked chicken and rice. Then you can slowly put in all the ingredients again to find the one that seems to be causing the symptoms.

You can also switch to a raw diet all together which gives you full control over the nutrients that your dog gets every day. It tastes better and will benefit his health. You can also try and change the food brand. Choose one that has few ingredients and avoid hypoallergenic food.

Chew Toys for Boredom

If boredom is the reason for your dog’s excessive licking then you will want to give him something to be occupied. When you are at home, engage in play with him, train him and go on walks. While you are not at home you can save him from boredom with a variety of chew toys.

I use a recipe out of banana, strawberries, and yogurt and fill it into my Kong and freeze it overnight. This will keep her occupied for a longer time and chewing releases endorphins.

Coconut Oil for Dry Skin

Coconut oil is by far my most favorite superfood. Its incredible features can help with so many things and you can use it for yourself and your dog. His healing properties are very effective for dry skin and irritated paws and can be directly applied or used from the inside out.

If you want to feed it to your dog, you will want to start with a small amount and build it up over time. I can really recommend you to put in your dog’s food as it helps with so much more. It makes your dog overall healthier, the coat is shining, the teeth are clean and it really helps the skin. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial.

I use this one for my own dog as a natural dewormer. For this purpose, you can use half a teaspoon for every 10kg of your dog’s weight once per day which currently means two teaspoons for me.

For the coat, you can rub a nut-sized portion between your hands and massage it into your dog’s fur. You can do this once per day until the dry skin healed. If your dog doesn’t want to take the pure coconut oil, you can also incorporate it into yummy homemade treats. You can find a great recipe here.

Treating Any Wounds

A punctured wound is often the reason for paw chewing and licking. If there is a foreign body stuck between the paws, try to remove it with a pair of tweezers and cut the hair around the wound if needed. Wash the wound out carefully.

You will want to keep your dog from licking the wound so it can heal. You can either do this by buying your dog protective shoes or by using a bandaid.

If the bleeding is strong or you recognize swelling, redness or fever then you should be taking your dog to the vet immediately to avoid infections from spreading.

Training for Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a condition where the dog is in great distress when being left alone. There are different types of anxiety and they can range from mild to more severe cases.

Pay attention to when the anxiety seems to appear and what the cause of the stress is. Separation anxiety can be treated at home but you can also consult a dog trainer if you need more help with it.

If you follow all the steps outlined here then you will be able to completely stop the separation anxiety by learning the symptoms, causes and the different methods that will solve it.

If you need help with any steps along the way, you can write your question down in the comments below.

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