As a pup parent, you know that your dog’s health is a top priority all year round. That’s why it’s important to be on the lookout for any changes in their behavior that could indicate a problem.
There are many subtle (and not so subtle) signals that your best furry pal can give to let you know that something isn’t quite right, and one of those is chewing excessively on their paws.
In this post, I’ll explore the possible reasons behind this puzzling canine behavior. So, if your dog is chewing on their feet a lot and it has you worried, you’re in the right place! Read on for tips on how to spot and treat your dog’s excessive paw chewing.
Common Reasons Dogs Chew Their Paws
There are several reasons why dogs may chew on their feet. Some dogs do it as part of their normal grooming routine, to help keep their paws clean and free of debris.
Other pups develop the habit of chewing on their feet out of boredom or frustration, or because of separation anxiety. In some cases, chewing on the paws may be a sign of an underlying injury or medical condition.
Here are a few of the most common reasons dogs chew on their feet:
- Parasites. Dogs that have parasites, such as fleas or mites, often chew on their paws in an attempt to relieve itchiness.
- Allergic reactions. Dogs that are allergic to certain substances may lick or chew their feet as a way to relieve itchiness and irritation. Allergies can be caused by environmental factors, parasites, or certain foods.
- Skin infections. Bacterial or fungal infections on the skin may cause your dog to lick or chew the affected area in an attempt to relieve itchiness and irritation.
- An environmental injury. It’s possible your dog sustained an injury when walking or exploring, such as from a hot pavement or a tiny piece of dirt or glass.
- Joint pain. If your dog is experiencing joint pain, they may chew on their paws as a way to relieve discomfort.
If your dog is chewing on their feet excessively, it’s important to take them to the vet for a checkup. Chewing on the feet can cause painful sores and open wounds, which may become infected if not treated properly. In severe cases, constant chewing can lead to joint damage and deformities.
In the next section, I’ll take a closer look at a few of the most common medical and behavioral causes of paw chewing in dogs. From fleas and ticks to separation anxiety, I’ll show you what to look out for and how to tackle the problem.
Fleas and Ticks: A Symptom of Chewing Paw Pads
If your dog is chewing on their paws, one of the first things you should check for is fleas and ticks. These tiny pests can cause a lot of discomfort for your pup, leading them to lick and chew their skin in an attempt to relieve the itchiness.
Check your dog’s paw pads and other areas on their body for any signs of fleas or ticks. Here are a few of the most common symptoms to look for:
- Swelling of the paws or legs
- Small, dark spots on the skin
- Visible flea dirt or eggs on the fur
- Hair loss
- Scabs or sores on the skin
Fleas and ticks can cause serious health problems in dogs, including anemia, skin infections, and Lyme disease. That’s why it’s so important to catch and treat infestations early on.
If you think your dog may have fleas or ticks, take them to the vet right away. They can prescribe medication to help get rid of the problem and provide relief for your pup.
Allergies: A Common Cause of Itchy Paws
Allergies are one of the most common reasons dogs lick and chew their paws. Just like humans, dogs can react to environmental allergens like pollen, grass, dust, and mold. They may also be allergic to certain ingredients in their food. Common food allergens include wheat, soy, dairy, beef, and chicken – all of which are found in many popular dog foods.
Dogs with allergies often develop dermatitis, which explains why they lick and chew their paws so much. Atopic dermatitis is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed, red, itchy, and irritated. In severe cases, it can lead to hair loss and open sores.
Aside from excessive paw chewing and licking, there are other telltale signs that your dog may be suffering from allergies. These include:
- Itchy skin or ears
- Breathing problems
If you think allergies may be to blame for your dog’s itchy skin and paw chewing, talk to your veterinarian. They will run tests to determine if allergies are the cause and recommend the best course of treatment.
Skin Infections: A Possible Cause of Excessive Paw Chewing
Another common reason dogs chew on their paws is skin infections. Bacterial and fungal infections can cause itchiness, irritation, and pain, leading your dog to lick or chew the affected area. Here are a few signs that your dog may have a skin infection:
- Red, inflamed skin
- Sores or scabs on the skin
- Hair loss
- Excessive licking or chewing
If you think your dog has a skin infection, take them to the vet right away. They can prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medication to help clear up the infection and provide relief for your pup.
In the meantime, try to keep your dog from licking or chewing the affected area. This will help prevent the infection from spreading and make it easier for the medicine to work.
Behavioral Issues: Are Boredom or Anxiety to Blame?
In some cases, dogs may chew on their feet due to boredom or anxiety. As an example, if your dog is left alone all day with nothing to do, they may start chewing on their paws out of boredom or frustration. This behavior can become a destructive habit if not addressed early on.
Dogs that are not given enough exercise may also start chewing as a way to release pent-up energy. And dogs that suffer from separation anxiety may chew on their feet as a way to self-soothe when they’re away from their guardians.
If your dog is chewing on their feet due to boredom or frustration, you’ll need to provide them with more mental and physical stimulation. And one of the best ways to do that is by increasing their exercise levels. Here are a few ideas:
- Provide interactive toys and puzzles
- Go on longer walks or runs together
- Spending more time training and playing with them
- Take them to the dog park more often
- Play fetch or other active games together
- Enroll them in a doggy daycare or dog walking service
How to Tell if Your Dog Is Suffering From Anxiety
Your dog might be chewing their feet because of anxiety, rather than a physical health issue such as an infection. But how can you tell the difference? If your pup is exhibiting these other behaviors along with their paw chewing, it’s likely anxiety is the cause:
- Excessive panting
- Shaking or trembling
These are just a few of the signs that your dog might be feeling anxious. If you suspect that’s the case, have a chat to your vet about what you can do to help ease their anxiety. This might include dog anxiety medication, behavioral modification training, or both.
Are There Any Natural Remedies Available to Stop a Dog Chewing Paws?
There are a number of natural remedies that you can give your dog to help stop them from chewing on their paws. Some homeopathic options include:
- Chamomile. This herb has calming properties that can help to ease anxiety and promote relaxation.
- Valerian Root. A herb that’s often used to treat anxiety and can be helpful in reducing paw chewing.
- Lavender. This essential oil has calming properties that can help to ease anxiety and promote relaxation.
How Can I Treat My Dog’s Paw Licking at Home?
There are several ways you can treat and ease the symptoms of your dog’s paw licking and feet chewing from home. For example, giving them an oatmeal bath or applying homemade paw balm, both of which can soothe itchy, dry skin.
To make an oatmeal bath:
- Add 1 cup of plain oatmeal to a blender and blend into a powder.
- Add the oatmeal powder to a warm bath and let your dog soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Rinse your dog off with warm water and pat them dry.
To make a paw balm:
- Melt 1/4 cup of shea butter, 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of beeswax and 10 drops of lavender essential oil in a double boiler.
- Stir until the ingredients melt and are combined.
- Pour the mixture into a jar or tin and let it cool and solidify.
- Apply the balm to your dog’s paws as needed.
Put Some Paw Protective Products on Your Pooch’s Pads
To stop your furry best pal chewing or licking their feet at all, look for some dog boots or shoes that will cover their entire paw and help to keep them clean and dry. These are especially useful in winter when salt and other chemicals are used on the roads and sidewalks.
Dog shoes or boots will help to protect your pup’s paws from the elements and keep them clean, dry, and healthy while curtailing damage from too much licking. And that means fewer trips to the vet for you!
When Should I See a Vet About My Dog’s Feet Chewing?
If your dog’s paw licking and feet chewing is excessive, or if you notice any other changes in their behavior or appearance, it’s always best to consult a professional.
Your vet will be able to rule out any medical causes and advise you on the best course of action for your pup. If you’ve explored all the options we’ve discussed here and are still concerned, it’s definitely time to book an appointment.
It’s possible your vet will prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help your dog feel more relaxed and stop them from licking their paws. They may also recommend treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics, or behavioral therapies if that’s what’s needed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on why dogs chew and lick their feet. We’ve examined the reasons behind the phenomenon – both mental and physical – what symptoms to look out for, how to treat them, and what kind of preventative measures you can take as a pup parent.
Remember, there are also a number of home remedies you can use to prevent this problem. So, if you notice your dog licking or chewing their paws, try some of the techniques I’ve explored here.
Talk to your vet if you’re truly concerned, and with a little love and patience, your dog’s feet chewing will be under control in no time at all!