Why Is My Dog Chewing on His Paws?

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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, there probably is 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.

Why Does My Dog Keep Chewing On His Paws?

It is normal for a dog to groom himself once in a while, especially after walks when the paws picked up some grind and dirt. Dogs also use their paws to clean their head like cats so occasionally licking is just grooming behavior.

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.

Why does my dog keep licking his paws? When should I visit the vet?

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

Dry Skin

Dogs can suffer from dry skin and a dull coat due to over-bathing or too much brushing. They do not need to be bathed every week nor every second week. Depending on your breed it can even be limited to a few times a year if he stays away from puddles.

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 chemical ones tend to be really aggressive on 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. Burning asphalt 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 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 check if the nail has been damaged or is even bleeding.

Excessively 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 or burned his paws.

Try to walk your dog in the morning hours and late in the evening when the sun is not that intense. Before stepping outside, check the temperature of the ground with your hand. If you cannot keep your hand on it for at least 5 seconds, it will be dangerous for your dog.

Allergies

Dogs can get all kinds of allergies, against pollen, food, and plants which 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 floors, 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 the allergen. 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 soothes fear.

It tends to help with psychological issues like depression or anxiety. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, then this will probably be the cause of it. Look out for other symptoms like pacing, panting, yawning, whining, urinating, or barking.

Sudden changes in your pet’s environment or household can increase stress which should be kept as low as possible. If you have a house party, try to leave your dog in a quiet room away from all the bustle. 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 issue.

You can also buy your dog flea and tick collars to prevent them from biting on your dog. I personally recommend going for natural remedies such as coconut oil treatment or diatomaceous earth.

Boredom

Make sure that your dog gets enough mental and physical exercise every day. Boredom increases 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 energy outlets like exercise, training, play, and walks. Puzzle toys are also a great way to tire out your dog and my personal favorite will always be: hide and seek.

How to Stop Your Dog From Chewing His Paws

Licking and chewing paws is a symptom and not a condition in itslef. 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 displays.

If the vet couldn’t find any healthrelated issues then it is probably caused by mental behavior problems. 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 that he 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)?

Does he seem to be bored? Do you spend lots of quality time with him to bond? 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 opt for hypoallergenic food.

Chew Toys for Boredom

If boredom is the reason for your dog’s excessive licking, you will want to occupy him at all times. When you are at home, engage in play with him, train him and go on walks. When 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 to freeze it overnight. This will keep my dog occupied for a longer time and chewing releases endorphins.

Coconut Oil for Dry Skin

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

The first way of giving your dog coconut oil is through oral ingestion. Start with a small amount like one teaspoon and add more over time. This will help your dog’s body with a variety of issues and promotes overall health.

His coat will be shining, the teeth will be clean and it really helps the skin and coat. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. What more could you wish for?

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 has improved. If your dog doesn’t want to eat the pure coconut oil, you can also incorporate it into yummy homemade treats.

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 open tissue 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 it’s triggered by. 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 in my separation anxiety guide 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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About Danielle

In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

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