Chewing on their paws is a dog’s way of expressing discomfort and stress. When they chew their paws, they can release the tension in their jaw muscles, which helps them to relax and feel more at ease.
Dogs are known to chew on things, but when they start gnawing on their paws, it can be a cause for concern. Paw gnawing, licking, biting, and chewing can be due to behavioral and medical reasons. However, if the behavior is chronic and suddenly starts happening, it’s essential to take your dog to the veterinarian for an evaluation. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of paw gnawing in dogs and what you can do about it.
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What is Paw Gnawing?
Paw gnawing refers to a dog licking, biting, or chewing on its paws. It’s often considered a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in dogs. The behavior can be due to boredom, fear, anxiety, or stress. It can also be a sign of pain or discomfort if your dog is licking or chewing excessively on one paw. If the behavior is chronic or sudden, it’s important to take your dog to the vet for an evaluation.
Why do dogs chew their paws?
There are a number of reasons why dogs may chew their paws, but the most common reason is an allergic reaction to something they are eating or exposed to. If your dog has suddenly begun licking their paws, check for puncture wounds and foreign bodies stuck in between their toes. If the problem persists, it is likely that your dog has an allergy and needs to see a veterinarian.
A food allergy is the most likely cause of a dog chewing its paws, and it can often be treated with diet changes. Secondary infections from repetitive licking and chewing can exacerbate this behavior, leading to it becoming chronic. The habit was usually started by a different, non-behavioral problem that needs to be corrected in order for the paw-chewing habit to stop completely.
There are a variety of reasons that are medical conditions that can cause paw gnawing in dogs. These include:
● Allergies – If your dog’s paw chewing is chronic, it may be caused by an allergic reaction.A food allergy is the most likely cause of a dog chewing its paws. Environmental allergies and flea bites are also common causes.
● Arthritis – Dogs with arthritis may chew at their paws because of the pain.
● Infections – A bacterial or viral infection can cause paw chewing.
● Injuries – If your dog’s paws are injured, they will chew at them to relieve the pain.
● Skin Disorder – If a dry skin condition is causing irritation on your dog’s paw pads, they will chew at their paws to relieve the itchy skin.
● Foreign bodies (such as grass awns or splinters) – If your dog has begun excessively licking their paws suddenly, check for puncture wounds and foreign bodies stuck in between their toes.
Secondary infections from repetitive licking and chewing can exacerbate this behavior, leading to it becoming chronic. The habit was usually started by a different, non-behavioral problem that needs to be corrected in order for the paw-chewing habit to stop completely.
Paw Gnawing Due To Medical Reasons
If your dog is paw gnawing due to a medical condition, the treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. For example:
● The vet may recommend allergy shots or antihistamines if your dog has allergies.
● In the case of arthritis, your veterinarian may prescribe pain medication or joint supplements.
● The vet will prescribe antibiotics for your dog if it has an infection.
● If your dog has a foreign body in its paw, the vet will remove it.
● And if your dog has a skin disorder, the vet will recommend the appropriate treatment based on the specific condition.
Paw Gnawing Due To Behavioral Reasons
In some cases, paw gnawing may be due to behavioral reasons. For example, dogs may gnaw on their paws out of boredom, fear, anxiety, or stress. If this is the case, the vet may recommend behavioral modification and training.
● Stress – If your dog is stressed or anxious, it can lead to stress-induced paw chewing.
● Boredom – Dogs can get bored easily, especially with a lack of exercise and mental stimulation. If your dog is not getting enough activity, they will find other ways to occupy their time, such as chewing on their paws.
● Anxiety – Dogs with anxiety issues may chew on their paws more than usual. If you notice that your dog is paw chewing when they usually don’t, it could be a sign of anxiety.
● Fear – Dogs may chew on their paws if they are afraid or nervous about something in their environment. This could be a sign of fear aggression.
● If your dog is gnawing due to boredom, the vet may recommend increasing the amount of exercise and mental stimulation your dog gets on a daily basis.
● Dogs which gnaw due to fear or anxiety are likely to need desensitization and counterconditioning.
● And if your dog is gnawing due to stress, the vet may recommend changing its environment or routine to reduce stressors.
Paw gnawing can be normal behavior in some dogs, but it can also be a sign of a medical or behavioral problem. If the behavior is chronic or sudden, it’s important to take your dog to the vet for an evaluation. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most dogs with paw gnawing can be helped.
What is the difference between chronic or sudden onset of paw gnawing
There are a few things to consider when trying to determine whether your dog’s paw gnawing is chronic or sudden. First, think about how long your dog has been gnawing on his paws. If he’s been doing it for weeks or months, then it’s likely that the behavior is chronic.
On the other hand, if he just started doing it recently, it’s more likely that the paw gnawing is sudden.
Another thing to consider is the severity of the paw gnawing. If your dog is only lightly gnawing on his paws, it’s probably not a big deal. However, if he’s Gnawing excessively or causing pain, the paw gnawing is chronic.
If you’re still unsure whether your dog’s paw gnawing is chronic or sudden, consider talking to your veterinarian. They will be able to give you more information and help you determine the best course of action.
How to stop your dog from chewing their paws
If your dog is chewing their paws, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem that can have a variety of causes. Luckily, there are many things you can do to stop your dog from chewing their paws.
The first step is to determine the cause of the behavior. There are few possible causes, and many of them can be ruled out easily. If you’re not sure what’s causing your dog’s paw chewing, your vet is only a phone call away.
Dogs lick and chew on their paws as a way to release stress or because they’re bored. When dogs feel anxious or stressed, they may chew on their paws as a way to relieve that feeling. Dogs can also do this when they’re bored or don’t have anything else to occupy their time.
Sometimes dogs chew on their paws because of separation anxiety. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety may chew on their paws as a way to get attention from their owners. If your dog is excessively chewing, licking and biting at his paws he should be seen by a veterinarian.
Tips To Stop Dogs From Biting And Chewing Their Paws
The specific steps you take to decrease the problem depend a lot on the original cause. Your vet is only a phone call away if in doubt about what caused your dog’s paw chewing behavior.
If your dog is chewing their paws, it could signify allergies or boredom. To stop your dog from chewing its paws, try these tips:
Give them a chew toy:
Dogs like to chew on things to relieve stress and boredom. So if you give them a designated chew toy, they’ll be less likely to chew on their paws.
Brush their fur:
Dogs sometimes chew on their paws because they’re itchy. Regular brushing can help remove any irritants in their fur and reduce itchiness. Pay particular attention to the fur in their feet and remove any burrs from your walks as these can easily get stuck in between their toes.
Take them for walks:
A tired dog is a good dog. Taking them for walks will tire them out, so they’ll be less likely to chew on their paws out of boredom.
With a bit of patience and effort, you can stop your dog from chewing its paws. Try these tips and see which ones work best for your dog.
What to do if your dog continues to chew their paws
If you’ve tried these tips and your dog is still chewing their paws, it’s time to talk to your vet. They can help identify any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the problem. In the meantime, when you are at home, it is important that you keep them from chewing their paws by using a muzzle.
The Final Word
As you can see, there are a variety of potential causes for paw gnawing in dogs. If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it’s crucial to take them to the vet to determine the root cause.
With proper treatment, most cases of paw gnawing can be resolved, and your pup will be back to his usual self in no time. Have you ever dealt with this issue before? What was the cause, and how did you treat it? Let us know.
Bonne Beerda, Matthijs B.H Schilder, JAN A.R.A.M Van Hooff, Hans W De Vries, Jan A Mol, Chronic Stress in Dogs Subjected to Social and Spatial Restriction. I. Behavioral Responses, Physiology & Behavior, Volume 66, Issue 2, 1999, Pages 233-242, ISSN 0031-9384.
Amy K. Shumaker, Diagnosis and Treatment of Canine Acral Lick Dermatitis, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, Volume 49, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 105-123, ISSN 0195-5616, ISBN 9780323675413, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cvsm.2018.08.010.Dog Paw Gnawing: How To Stop Your Dog From Chewing Their Paws Click To Tweet
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