Paw Gnawing: Why Dogs Chew on Their Feet

It can produce the most annoying sounds that grind on your nerves like a dripping faucet. That never ending paw gnawing and licking! In the middle of dinner, in the dead of the night, when guest are over or when you are desperately trying to study for that final exam. “For the love of God, make it stop! Why must my dog gnaw and lick on his feet like a t-bone steak?

As one of our many dog loving readers, you have probably asked yourself this on an occasion. Fortunately, dogs are pretty basic creatures and believe it or not… they are not doing it just to annoy you. We promise. There are reasons why a dog gnaws and licks at his/her paws. But first, understand there are two groups of paw gnawers/lickers.

The first is sudden. This means out of the blue they begin going at their paw(s) like it was last night’s pork chop bone. This often happens after a walk, run or hike outside. Sometimes jumping off of furniture or out of vehicles. Unusual exposure to chemicals like dips or shampoos, or the unexpected chemicals found on roads or lawns. Environmental elements including grass, weeds, trees and more. Get the picture? Here are some reasons why your pup might suddenly start gnawing.

Causes of Sudden Gnawing:

  • Wounds

  • Broken Nail

  • Broken Toe

  • Burns

  • Corns

  • Ticks

  • Burrs

  • Interdigital cysts

  • Tumor/Cancer

  • Nail bed/paw pad autoimmune disease

  • Allergic Skin Disease

What is considered chronic gnawing or licking?

Chronic paw gnawers/lickers are the second group and can develop over a period of time. Often times, it just feels good to them. A veterinarian can ascertain any underlying physical condition which might have initiated this obsessive compulsive behavior. It’s important to note chronic gnawing/licking can lead to secondary infections like yeast and bacteria if left unchecked. This being said, there are treatable physical conditions that should be examined and eliminated which could be causing the behavior. This is all the more reason for veterinary invention.

Causes of Chronic Gnawing:

  • Atopic Dermatitis

  • Food Allergens

  • Environmental allergens

  • Yeast/bacterial infections

Should you be worried?

Yes. While it’s not uncommon for dogs to occasionally lick or chew their feet, the  sudden onset or chronic behavior is quite another story. Paw gnawing and licking – especially sudden – should be addressed by your veterinarian. This is particularly true if the behavior is accompanied by limping, pain, sores, bleeding, swelling, redness, or signs of infection like odor and drainage.

What should I do next?

Take notice if your beloved furry friend is chewing and/or licking on just one paw or more, and which paw(s) it is. Carefully and gently examine the paws, but be sure to exercise extreme caution. Animals in pain or discomfort can sometimes bite. Spread their pads to look between them for swelling, drainage, redness, objects like splinters, wounds, bleeding and odor; looking closely at their nails for breakage. Most importantly, make an appointment with your vet. The sooner you do, the better for Fido and your sanity!

Original Source:

This entry was posted in Dog Health. Bookmark the permalink.