Does your dog constantly lick and chew his paws? There are many reasons why dogs chew paws and all of them need to be addressed by you in order to give your dog some relief. Once you learn the reason, you can stop your dog from chewing on his paws.
Reasons why my dog is chewing his paws
Dr. Gary Richter, medical director of Holistic Veterinary Care in Berkeley, California, and founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition, gives the common reasons dogs chew paws:
- Dr. Richter says the first thing to do is to check and make sure your dog doesn’t have an injury to his paw that is causing him to lick and chew. Look for limping, bleeding, swelling and odor, which could be due to an infection. Something as simple as a sliver or a small cut can cause your dog to excessively chew his paw!
If it’s a minor cut or abrasion, Dr. Richter says to apply a pet-safe antibiotic, such as Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial All Animal Wound and Skin Care, after cleaning with pet-safe soap. Otherwise, head to the veterinarian to get treatment including X-rays, ointment and/or antibiotics if necessary.
- Mental Health. Some dogs chew their paws because they are bored, depressed or anxious. Dogs who do not get enough exercise or mental stimulation will chew their paws, says Dr. Richter.
Anxiety-based paw chewing is hard to treat and will take a while to correct. Dr. Richter says the key is to use counter-conditioning to change your dog’s reaction to situations that cause him stress. As an example, he says this could mean getting your dog to associate you leaving with something good, like a treat. When you leave the house, fill a puzzle toy with food your dog really likes, one that will take at least 20 minutes to finish.
- Sometimes a parasite bothering your dog will cause paw chewing. Dr. Richter says visible pests like ticks and fleas can be culprits, but also non-visible ones like mites.
A visit to the vet is needed to diagnosis these smaller critters. Once the parasite is determined, your vet can give you the right medication to eradicate the pests.
- Dogs who chew their paws may have sensitivities or allergies. This can be an environmental allergen — grass, floor cleaner, chemicals on the sidewalk, etc. — or food-related allergies.
In this case, getting an allergy test to determine what is causing your dog’s discomfort is the first step. Once you know what your dog is allergic to, you avoid it altogether and/or get relief with allergy medications.
Home remedies for dog paw chewing
If you’re looking for something to help soothe your dog’s paw chewing while you wait for your vet appointment, try a soothing spray. One example is Skout’s Honor Probiotic Paw Spray. It supports a dog’s natural ability to defend against an overgrowth of harmful bacteria like yeast and fungus, which is often the culprit for itchy, stinky and irritated paws, explains Jenny Gilcrest for Skout’s Honor. It’s great for ultra-sensitive dogs, with a non-medicated, alcohol-free and hypoallergenic formula.
Other products to help soothe dog paws at home: