How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Chewing His Paws?
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It's common to find dogs chewing or licking their paws. They usually do so to clean themselves and maintain proper hygiene. However, sometimes a dog may begin to do it excessively. This can become a problem as they can chew their paws raw until one can see their skin or even their flesh.
In this AnimalWised article we're going to explain why dogs lick or chew their paws excessively and how you can stop your dog from chewing their paws. Continue reading to learn more!
Why your dog is licking or chewing their paws
If your dog is excessively licking or chewing their paw, they are probably suffering from a compulsive behaviour. This can lead to them injuring themselves or suffering from other health issues. Before we find the correct treatment and solution to this issue, we must first determine its cause.
There are a number of reasons as to why your dog may have begun to excessively lick or chew their paw. The most common causes are the following:
The first reason as to why your dog may be excessively licking or chewing their paw is allergies. Your dog may be allergic to something which is causing them to perform this behaviour. They could be allergic to a certain type of food or environmental triggers, such as pollen or mold. This may produce skin irritation on their paws, causing them to continuously lick or chew on them.
Secondly, the issue could be due to dry skin. This is more common during fall or winter. Dry skin in dogs can also be due to fatty acid deficiencies. This will cause the dog to feel discomfort and begin excessively licking or chewing their paws.
Another reason could be that your dog is in pain or discomfort. For example, if your dog is biting their paw, it could be that they have a thorn or rock stuck in their paw. Compulsive chewing or licking can also be due to , such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Your dog could also simply be bored. This happens when they are left alone for hours or when they are lacking physical activity in their everyday life.
One of the most common causes for excessive licking or chewing in dogs is the presence of parasites. These include fleas, ticks and mites. Parasites aren't always visible, like in the case of fleas. Therefore, we shouldn't assume it isn't the case if we can't see any parasites. A simple check-up at the veterinarian's will determine if your dog has parasites.
Lastly, your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety which could lead them to licking or chewing their paw as a coping mechanism for their anxiety.
Your dog may have developed a skin infection due to their body not producing enough thyroid hormone or putting out too much of the hormone cortisol.
You may also be interested in our article about when puppies stop chewing everything.
How to get your dog to stop chewing their paws
Now that we've established the common causes for this compulsive behaviour, it's time to take a look at the possible solutions. So, what can you do to stop your dog from chewing their paws? Take a look at our suggestions below:
The first thing to do is to take your dog to their veterinarian for a check-up. This will help us rule-out any health issues that our dog may be experiencing. For example, if our dog is has parasites that's causing them to be in discomfort or pain, our veterinarian will find the best treatment to eliminate the parasites.
Our veterinarian will also be able to perform the necessary examinations to rule out any other health issue, such as orthopedic problems, allergies, dry skin or skin infections. Once we know what the issue is, with the help of our veterinarian, we can move on towards our dog's recovery.
If the cause of your dog's compulsive behaviour is boredom, we will need to find new ways to make sure they are entertained. Firstly, do not leave your adult dog at home for more than a couple of hours. If you need to leave them for more than 8 hours, consider taking them to a puppy care centre or asking a family member to go check on them and take them on a walk.
Next, try to take them out on longer walks or more walks to increase their everyday physical activity. You should also consider dog intelligence games that they can do at home to be cognitively stimulated. Learn more in our article about dog intelligence games.
Next, if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you will need to learn how to normalize your departure but not leave them alone for long hours. You will also need to keep them busy and entertained when home alone. Break routines to show your dog that things can change and that they will need to adapt.
As a last resort, your veterinarian could prescribe some medication for your dog's separation anxiety. However, this should only be considered after you have tried everything mentioned above. We also encourage you to talk to your veterinarian about this and read more about it in our article about separation anxiety in dogs.
Lastly, you can resort to certain products that will help your dog stop chewing their paw. Things like bitter spray or doggie boots could work. Nevertheless, it's always best to determine the cause for this behaviour and stop it from the root of the problem. Ask you veterinarian if any of these products could help your dog's condition.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Chewing His Paws?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.
- Nathaniel J. Hall, Alexandra Protopopova, Clive D.L. Wynne. (2015). The role of environmental and owner-provided consequences in canine stereotypy and compulsive behavior. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 10, Issue 1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2014.10.005.