Noticing your pup gnawing on their paws every now and then is incredibly common and a very normal part of doggy behaviour. Lots of dogs will lick and bite their paws – both the claws and the pads underneath – and it is considered totally normal... that is until you notice the paws themselves aren’t in the best health or your pup is doing it more often than not!
There are lots of reasons your dog may be chewing and biting their paws; from dry skin to anxiety, you should try to keep an eye on your dog’s paw chewing habits, just to make sure there isn’t an underlining issue at hand (or at the paw for this instance).
When we feel anxious or nervous, we all have little stress releases; be it picking skin or biting our nails - your dog is no different. If you think about when your furry friend was a puppy, their mother would lick them to soothe and care for them… well, that is similarly why you may find your pup licking their paws – to soothe themselves when feeling a little unsure.
When your pup feels a little unsure or anxious, they can also act out and do things that will naturally help them calm down – like chewing their paws. The chewing and licking will help them relax and unwind, but for you, as their puppy parent, it could be a tell-tale sign that they’re feeling stressed.
Having an anxious puppy can be difficult at times, especially if you’re not sure what is causing the anxiety. Give them affection and consider using natural, dog specific calming aids made by a reputable pet brand, to help make your pup feel at ease.
Your pup could be suffering from an allergy that you have no knowledge of. If your canine companion is chewing on their paws after you’re back from a walk, it could be a sign that they’re allergic to something environmental – grass, plants or pesticides.
However, if you notice excessive licking is happening regardless of returning from a walk, you could still be dealing with an allergy, only it could be a reaction to their food. Some of the most common allergies when it comes to diet are; beef, chicken and dairy products. And, just like us, some dogs can find that they have a sensitivity to specific strands of grain. If you suspect it could be a food allergy, try to eliminate certain foods and see if there is any correlation with a specific food group.
If none of the above seem to be the cause, it could be that your pup is having a reaction to something in the home. Your cleaning products could be bothering the bottom of your pup’s paws, causing them to become irritable. Change your cleaning products around and see if it helps your dog’s paws.
All the chewing and chomping might be due to something as simple as dry skin. If you have noticed that your dog’s skin in a little on the dry side, with flakes of skin detaching after scratching, this could be the cause of irritation and discomfort. Their paws are just as sensitive are the skin under their fur, so if the skin is dry, the paws are also rather likely to be suffering too.
Dry skin is normally a result of over-bathing or grooming. As dogs have a tendency to create an odour, it can be all too tempting to keep their grooming ritual to a regular thing, but that could be the cause for their irritation and paw chewing. The constant bathing can take the natural oils from your pup’s skin and fur, so reduce the number of baths and find other ways of masking your smelly pup.
Noticing your dog licking and chewing their paw could also be a sign that something is causing them pain in that area. They may have injured their paw on a stone or hard piece of soil. If this is the case and there is a foreign object suck in the paw, causing discomfort, your pup will try to remove it themselves, but, if they’re unable, you will need to assist the problem.
Keep an eye on how often your dog is licking/biting their paws. If you begin to think there could be something stuck inside their paw, investigate yourself or contact your vet. The sooner you’re able to discover what is causing the discomfort, the better it will be for your pooch.
After your pup has been out for a walk or if they have been running around the garden, you may notice that they give their paws a little lick – this could be down to a spot grooming and self-cleaning. Our dogs can’t wash their hands like us, so they will give their paws a wash with their tongue. You may also notice them gnaw repeatedly while giving their paws some TLC.
When it comes to grooming, you don’t need to do anything to stop this behaviour, although you can do things to help the cleaning process along. Whenever your pup returns from outside, wipe down their paws with either a towel or grooming wipes to remove any dirt or grit that may irritate the paws later.
As the summer months draw near, your dog will no doubt spend a lot more time outside, running and playing amongst grass, bushes, and trees. With this, comes higher chances of picking up a few ticks, flees or burrs. If a tick or burr has made its way onto your pup and decided to make its home in your dog’s paw, then chewing could be a sign of this. Your dog will try to scratch and/or lick the area that is infested, to try and remove the foreign object and soothe the irritated area. If they’re unable to do so, they may begin to bite the area.
You should be keeping up to date with your pup’s visits to the vet, which will include a check for ticks and fleas. If you do find that your dog has an unwanted creature finding their way onto your dog, using tick and flea repellent could help reduce the irritation.
Your vet can also advise on the best regular flea and worming treatment to help stop it happening again.
Your dog may simply be suffering from a spot of boredom. As said above in regard to stress and anxiety, your pooch could be chewing their paws to feel better. When your pup gets bored, they can become quite irritable and restless – which may result in higher levels of anxiety.
Your job as their puppy parent is to try and keep your dog active and happy. Make sure you’re helping them reach their daily intended amount of exercise to avoid any restless behaviour. And, on a plus, the more active your pup is, the lower their stress levels will be on a daily basis. Just like us, the more hormones released during exercise can help keep anxiety and restlessness to a minimum.
Petlab Co. Pro Tip:Keeping your dog active doesn’t have to be physical. When the weather is against you, why not spend some time working on brain games or toy throwing? This time together will help your bond and increase trust between you and your pup.
Regardless of what the reason may be for your pup’s constant paw chewing, it is good for you as their puppy parent to do what you can to help the situation. Although some conditions will need to be seen to by the vet, there are things you can do, and they won’t completely change your life…only your pup’s and for the better!