Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws and How Can I Stop This Behavior?
Dog paw chewing is not something that every pet owner has had to deal with. Thankfully, not all pets show this behavior, but if you have gotten a dog that does, you might wonder if you need to be worried about your dog chewing on their paws. There are various reasons that your dog might be chewing on their feet, and knowing more about the reasons for this behavior can help you determine if you think there is something to be concerned about related to your dog’s health.
The more that you know about behaviors that can be caused by anxiety or other health issues, the better off both you and your pet will be.
Reasons Why Dogs Chew Paws
There are some common reasons that your pet might be chewing on their feet. You might need the help of a veterinarian to figure out which of these causes is the reason your pet is displaying this behavior. In some cases, a combination of these different factors might be involved.
Something Is Irritating the Paw
Possible irritant or something stuck in the paw. If your dog is licking excessively, they may have come in contact with some irritating material and are trying to remove this. In some cases, they may have something embedded in the paw like a splinter or piece of glass. If your pet is limping on any limb they are licking, you should have the veterinarian examine the paw(s).
Anxiety is one of the most common reasons that your dog might be chewing on their feet. Dogs can sometimes self-soothe by chewing, and if your dog seems to chew on their feet when they are upset or worried, they might be doing so to try and calm down. You should look for a high respiration rate and drooling or panting along with foot chewing behavior if anxiety is the culprit for your dog’s behavior.
Dogs with allergies to the outside world or to things like their food might chew on their feet because they are itchy. This can be a common cause of paw chewing, and it is most often linked with skin irritation related to allergies. If your dog has recently started eating a new food or you have introduced something like new treats to their routine, this might be why the chewing behavior has started to make itself known.
Bacterial or Yeast Infections
Some dogs are more prone to these kinds of infections than others, but all dogs can get skin infections on the pads of their feet. One of the early symptoms of this condition could be chewing on the toes or the pads of the feet. If you see redness or inflammation and sores on your dog’s foot pads, this is probably due to an infection.
If your dog was walking on a hot surface or went to a place like the beach with you and got a sunburn on their feet, they might chew on their toes as the burn starts to get itchy. All humans know all about the itchy phase of a sunburn, and this is something that dogs also experience when they have gotten a burn on their feet. If your pet is chewing at their toes after they have gotten sunburned, this phase of the burn will probably be brief.
Some dogs get bored more easily than others, and pets that have a high drive to be active and busy mentally might end up chewing on their feet out of boredom. Chewing is a very natural behavior for dogs, and when they don’t have appropriate toys or items to chew on, they might decide to substitute their feet for the other objects they would normally chew on.
How Do I Stop Foot Chewing Behavior?
The answer to this question depends on the reason for your dog’s foot chewing.
If your dog has a sunburn or skin irritation that is not from an infection, you can usually just use some dog-safe moisturizer for the pads of their feet and allow the skin time to heal.
Partner with Your Vet
Infections will need to be treated by a vet, and severe anxiety can also require a trip to the vet to ensure that your pet gets the medical support they need to resolve this kind of foot chewing. Dogs with anxiety will be given medications that help them to calm down, and pets with infections will be placed on antibiotics or anti-fungal medications.
Exercise and Activity
If your pet needs more exercise or is bored, make sure that they get a walk at least once a day and provide chewing-safe toys for them to play with. Make sure that you do your research about the kinds of toys that dogs can chew on safely. No rawhide and no plastic toys should be given to dogs that are prone to chewing as they could choke or get an intestinal blockage from eating pieces of the wrong kinds of toys.
Managing this kind of behavior is often as easy as getting a diagnosis because your dog is chewing on their feet. Once you know why your pet is showing this behavior, you can address the issues that are behind it. Since there are a variety of different things that could be causing your dog to do this, you might need professional help to get to the bottom of the reason behind this behavior.
Dog Paw Chewing Can be Caused by Many Things
Dogs can chew their feet for many reasons. Your pet might be chewing out of anxiety, boredom, or due to skin irritation. Often, a trip to the vet is a good first step to rule out things like skin infections or more severe health reasons for the chewing issue. Once you know why your dog is chewing on their paws, you can change their routine or add some medication to their daily feeding plan to help them to feel better and stop showing this behavior.
Need to talk with a vet about your dog’s paw chewing behavior? Book an appointment online at any of our Heart + Paw locations!
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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.
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