Why is My Dog Biting His Paws?

Have you been noticing your dog compulsively biting himself lately with no clear reason and you found yourself asking, “why is my dog biting his paws?” You are not alone! There are a number of reasons why a dog may begin to chew and bite on his paws. To help you determine what the possible culprit may be for your dog, we have put together a list of the most common reasons why your dog may be chewing on his paws more than normal.

Dry Skin

One of the most common culprits for paw biting is dry skin. Just like cold, winter weather or dry weather that lacks humidity can dry out your skin, it can also cause the skin on your dog’s paw pads to dry out as well. In addition to the outside temperature, dry skin on paw pads can also result from a lack of fatty acids in the diet that help to keep the skin protected and moisturized. When a dog notices that their paws are dry, they will try to soothe their dry skin by chewing, licking, and/or scratching it. Unfortunately, this can sometimes exacerbate the skin dryness and cause the dog’s skin to become more itchy and chapped.

Allergies

Many people don’t realize that their pups can suffer from canine allergies just like they can. Allergies are one of the top causes for dogs biting their paws. Dogs can have an allergy to a number of different factors. Environmental factors, such as pollen, grass, and/or mold, can be potential allergic triggers for some dogs. For other dogs, it may be an ingredient in their food that is causing their allergies. Another potential allergy some dogs experience is due to seasonal changes that can trigger the allergies. Some dogs can also develop a skin condition called canine dermatitis if their skin is exposed to pesticides, soap, or others items with harsh ingredients or chemicals. If you think your dog may be suffering from allergies, it is important to consult a licensed veterinarian.

Hormonal Imbalances

An unseen reason your dog may begin to chew his paws is if they develop a hormonal imbalance. If your dog’s body begins to develop too much of the hormone cortisol or is not producing enough thyroid hormone, canine skin infections can begin to occur on the superficial level of the skin. This may manifest itself in the form of bald spots and your dog may begin to lick and chew his paws. If you believe your dog may have a hormonal imbalance, it is important to bring him in for a visit with a licensed veterinarian.

Pain

Some dogs may begin to lick, chew, or bite their paws due to an injury that is causing them pain. If your dog has developed an injury on their paw pads, they will begin to experience pain and begin to soothe their own wound by licking, chewing, and/or biting. Examples of common injuries include a wound on the toe pads, a fractured toe or claw, a splinter or burr, or a puncture wound on the toe pads, all of which can occur simply by running around outdoors. If you think your dog may be in pain due to an injury, be sure to check their paws and see if you can see any visible signs or any injury. Depending on the severity of the injury and pain, they may need a consultation with a licensed veterinarian.  

Parasites

When you have a dog, it is always important to be mindful of potential parasites, such as ticks, fleas, and/or mites. Parasites in dogs can cause dogs to chew their paws in some cases. If your dog has a parasite infection, he will attempt to chew it away to get rid of the parasites. While ticks are usually easily visible, fleas and mites can be much more difficult to spot. If you think your dog may have parasites, it is important to check in with your veterinarian so that they can determine if your dog’s paw chewing is caused by parasites.

Boredom or Anxiety

For some dogs, paw chewing may not be the result of a medical condition, wound, or allergy, but rather the byproduct of boredom or canine anxiety. When a dog begins biting their paws out of boredom, it can become a habit. For dogs that begin chewing their paws due to anxiety, this can develop due to external factors such as loud noises, a new family member coming into the home, a new pet, or moving from one home to another. Dogs can develop anxiety for many different reasons, including canine separation anxiety whenever they become separated from their owners. To cope with their anxiety, some dogs may begin to chew on their paws to process their anxious feelings.

While moderate paw chewing is fairly common in dogs, if the chewing begins to become compulsive or you notice that your dog is beginning to develop wounds or hot spots, it is vital to take them to a licensed veterinarian immediately.

Sources:

“Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws?” Cesar’s Way, 17 Jan. 2018, Accessed 26 Oct. 2018. www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/problem-behaviors/oral-misbehavior/Why-do-dogs-chew-their-paws.

Khuly, Patty. “Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws?” Vetstreet, Accessed 26 Oct. 2018. www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-does-my-dog-lick-and-chew-his-feet.

“Dogs and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing.” WebMD, Accessed 26 Oct. 2018. www.pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dogs-and-compulsive-scratching-licking-and-chewing#1.

Sailer, Cecily. “Why Do Dogs Chew on Their Paws?” Rover, 31 May 2018, Accessed 26 Oct. 2018. www.rover.com/blog/why-dogs-chew-paws/.

“Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws?” Cesar’s Way, 17 Jan. 2018, Accessed 26 Oct. 2018. www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/problem-behaviors/oral-misbehavior/Why-do-dogs-chew-their-paws.

Perreault, Jet. “Why Is My Dog Biting His Paws? (And How to Stop It).” Petful, 30 June 2016, Accessed 26 Oct. 2018. www.petful.com/behaviors/why-is-my-dog-biting-his-paws/.

 

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