I am sure that at some point in our lives, we have all seen a dog with their head down and biting on their paw. It is no secret that dogs love to chew anything they can get their mouths around. Chewing helps them relieve stress and anxiety as well as keep their teeth clean and healthy.
However, there are times when you may notice your pup chewing excessively or randomly biting his paws for no reason at all. Is it possible he has something stuck in his mouth? Or does he need more mental stimulation? If you’re not sure what the cause of this behavior is, here are three reasons why your dog might be biting his own paws:
When a dog chews on its paw, the first thing you want to do is find out what’s causing it. It could be as simple as allergies or as complex as infections and pain. Here are some common causes of paw-chewing: Allergies: If your dog has allergies, he might be chewing his paws to relieve the itch.
A quick way of finding out is by giving your dog an anti-itch shampoo . If he stops chewing within a few days, allergies are probably your culprit. A great all natural choice is this one .
Pain: Did your pup get into something he shouldn’t have? Is it wintertime and the ground is too cold, causing him discomfort? Even if your dog seems okay on the outside, he may be feeling pain. If you notice swelling or redness, take him to the vet. Not sure what’s wrong with your pup?
Boredom: Does your dog have nothing else to do? If so, he might chew on his paws just to pass the time. Instead of letting him go around chewing at his own discretion, give him some toys! Here are some great choices for your pup .
Parasites: Ticks and fleas can cause your dog to bite at their paws. These parasites not only make your dog itchy, but they also make him vulnerable to infections by gnawing at his skin. Ticks can even spread Lyme disease . If you notice your dog licking or chewing at a paw, look for ticks and fleas first.
Infections: Dogs may chew their paws if they have an infection. This is especially true if the paws are red or swollen. If your dog is chewing his paw, take him to the vet right away .
Cancer: Lastly, cancer may be the culprit. Cancerous cells typically invade surrounding tissue and make it hard for dogs to do day-to-day activities (sounds like my college days). These types of tumors are inoperable and typically, these dogs end up euthanized .
While it’s rare for a dog to have cancer in their paws, it can happen. If your dog is chewing his paw and you notice any lumps or bumps , take him to the vet right away.
Hardware Disease: Poor Fido just had surgery on his toe, that little rascal. It’s a common problem called “hardware disease” and it occurs when a dog ingests surgical pins or needles left in their body after surgery . Not only does this cause the dog pain, but it can also kill him!
If your dog is chewing on his paws, make sure he hasn’t eaten any hardware; if so, take him to the vet immediately .
Hyperkeratosis: “Hyperkeratosis” means that there’s an abnormal buildup of keratin on your dog’s paw pads . This keratin buildup can cause your dog to chew his paw, especially if it’s summertime. Prevent this by protecting your pup’s paws! Here are some great choices for boots .
Nail-Trimming Difficulties: If the problem is simply that your dog hates nail-trimming, there are humane alternatives to getting rid of the jagged edges .
Cherry Eye: If you notice your dog with their tongue out and eyes wide, they may have “cherry eye.” This is where the third eyelid (the pink orb you see when dogs look up) sticks out like a cherry . Your pup will want to chew on that area because it’s painful.
Pain: If you’ve ruled out allergies, parasites and cancer as the cause of paw chewing and licking, it could be a sign of pain. The only way to find out if your dog is in pain is by talking to your vet .
Allergies: Grass and pollen allergies cause a lot of itching. If your pup has been outside, he could be chewing on his paw to stop the itch. Give him an all-natural shampoo like this one and see if that helps!
Hereditary Problems: Some dogs have hereditary paw disorders, but others can develop them over time. “Dermoid sinus” is a common disorder in dobermans that causes hair loss on the paws. This is why it’s so important to brush your dog, especially if they have long fur!
Lick Granuloma : More often than not, dogs will get lick granulomas on their belly . However, they can also get them on their paws! This is caused by an itch, pain or both. If your dog’s licking his paw for any reason at all, make sure to talk to the vet about desensitization techniques .
Warts : Some dogs can get warts on their paws too. While humans get warts on our fingers and toes, dogs tend to get them on their paws. The same treatments for warts in humans will apply to dogs ; talk to your doctor about this.
Liver Shunt : A liver shunt can cause your dog to chew his paws and lick them excessively, due to the toxins building up in the body . Again, this is a hereditary problem so if you have a new pup, have their hips x-rayed to see if they are affected by this.
Tail Chasing: If your dog seems to run in circles all the time, they could have “tail chasing disorder.” This is essentially an obsessive compulsive disorder where dogs chase their tails . It’s pretty rare but it can be treated with medication .
Obsessive Compulsions : If your dog has any other OCD, it can cause them to chew on their paws. They sometimes chew because they’re bored , so make sure to provide plenty of toys and exercise for Fido.
Pesky Parasites: Certain parasites are known to cause dogs to bite at their fur and paws. The two major culprits are sarcoptic mange and demodex mites . Sarcoptic mange is a parasitic bug that lives in the skin of dogs, causing severe itching . Demodex mites live on the dog’s face and look like little red dots; they cause intense itchiness too! If your dog has any of these parasites, talk to a vet about the appropriate treatment.
Is something biting you? Try this all-natural bug spray .
Bacterial Infections: If your dog is licking and chewing at their paws but there aren’t any visible signs of allergies or parasites, it could be a bacterial infection . These infections are pretty rare but they’re very serious, so you should definitely take your dog to the vet if they have one.
Diabetes : If your pup is diabetic, his paws are especially vulnerable to infections because diabetes weakens immune systems . Make sure he gets plenty of exercise and eats nutritionally dense food to keep his blood sugar levels under control!
Bad Diet : Sometimes dogs get nutritional deficiencies , which can cause them to chew on their paws. This is especially common in dogs who are deficient in protein! If your dog seems to be excessively chewing his paws, make sure he’s getting the right nutrients and talk to a vet about supplements .
If you are still unsure what your dog is doing when biting his paw, it may be a good idea to stop by the vet. Your veterinarian can give you some more insight into why your pet may bite their paws and if there’s anything that can be done about it. You might also want to ask them for tips on how to stop this behavior at home.