Why do dogs chew their paws?

Are you wondering why your dog is chewing his paws? You’re not alone!

There are a variety of reasons why dogs might chew their paws. Let’s look at the most common reasons, as well as the signs that might let you know it’s time to take your pup to the vet.

Allergies

Dogs, like people, have allergies, and allergies tend to be the number one cause of paw chewing. Ingredients in their food, environmental factors like pollen and mold, and seasonal changes can trigger a dog’s allergies. Your dog might also develop dermatitis, a skin condition, if she comes into contact with chemicals from soap, pesticides, or other items with harsh chemicals.

Dry skin

Does the winter weather dry out your skin? Or maybe you live in a dry climate without much humidity. Either way, weather can also cause your dog’s skin to dry out. He also might not be getting enough fatty acids, which aid in keeping his skin protected and moisturized. If he has dry skin, he might try to soothe it by licking, scratching, or chewing.

Anxiety or Depression

When dogs are anxious or depressed, they tend to chew their paws or lick and scratch compulsively. Dogs may react that way due to common separation anxiety, or anxiety caused by lack of proper exercise. Dog who are ill, generally sad, or depressed will often lick their own paws obsessively.

Pain

If your dog is chewing his paws, you might want to check them to see if he’s hurt or injured. Since a dog’s paws are constantly in contact with the ground and floor, he can easily get a thorn, small rock, sticker, glass shard, burr, or splinter stuck in his foot. He also might have cut his foot when he was galavanting around outside.

If your dog is injured, he will chew his paws to relieve the pain or remove the foreign object. Your dog might also be suffering from an orthopedic issue like arthritis or hip dysplasia, and his response is to chew or lick the area that hurts.

Parasites

Parasites like ticks, fleas, and mites are another big cause of paw chewing in dogs, and your dog’s cure for a parasite infection is to chew it away. While you can usually see ticks, mites are microscopic, and fleas tend to go unnoticed until there are a bunch of them.

So just because you can’t see the pesky culprits doesn’t mean your dog isn’t being attacked by a parasite. Check with your vet to determine if your dog’s chewing is being caused by a parasite if you can’t determine another cause.

Remember, moderate paw chewing may be annoying, but it’s pretty normal. You should bring your dog to the vet, however, if the chewing gets out of hand or if you notice your dog developing “hot spots” on his skin, bleeding, or loss of fur. A vet might have you change your dog’s diet, use a product to eliminate parasites, address anxiety issues, give your dog medication, or help you come up with another solution.

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