If your dog has been chewing or biting its paws, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get your dog to stop doing it.
So, why does my dog chew its paws? Possible reasons why your dog chews its paws are that it has fleas, something stuck on them, it is a compulsive behavior, anxiety or it might just be doing it naturally to groom itself.
Since there are multiple possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog chews its paws
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been chewing its paws and what would make each of them more likely.
The reason why it has been biting its paw could be that it has fleas. This would be more likely if it has been biting other areas of its body, it has started doing it suddenly and if you have found fleas around the house.
Allergies or a rash could also be causing your dog to bite its paws. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).
Something stuck there
The reason that it has been doing it could be that it has something stuck in one of its paws. This would be more likely if it has been biting one paw in particular and if it has started doing it suddenly.
It might be the case that your dog has been biting its paws compulsively. This is where it feels an irresistible urge to do it and it cannot stop itself from doing it. In this case, it would help to seek the guidance of a vet.
Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
It might also be the case that it has been biting its paws due to an injury. This would be more likely if it has been biting one paw in particular and if it has been showing signs of being injured such as by limping.
It might be the case that your dog has separation anxiety. This is where it gets anxious when it is left alone and when it is about to be left alone. This would be more likely if your dog starts biting its paws when you are about to leave and if it shows other signs of anxiety when you are leaving.
It was just playing
If your dog just did it once then it could be the case that it was just playing, that it was grooming itself or that it was itchy at the time. However, this would be less likely if it has been doing it repeatedly over a short time period.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when it first started
If your dog did not always chew its paws, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as fleas, allergies, a rash or becoming anxious.
What is different when your dog chews its paws
The timing and location would be another thing to consider.
If it tends to do it when you are about to leave then it would be more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it seems to do it at random times then it would be more likely to be due to fleas, a rash, allergies or something being stuck in its fur.
What to do about your dog chewing its paws
Below are some things you can do in order to get your dog to stop doing it.
Take it to a vet
If you are not sure why it has been doing it or it has been doing it excessively, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to rule out medical causes.
It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by doing things such as:
- Washing the dog’s bedding with hot soapy water
- Vacuuming the carpets
- Applying an environmental flee control
- Treating your dog with a monthly preventative
Reduce reasons why it might be anxious
If it seems like it might be doing it due to being anxious, it would help to limit possible reasons why it might be anxious. You can do this by doing things such as letting it out to pee, giving it exercise and letting it eat before leaving it for long time periods and periodically checking up on it if possible.
Avoid encouraging it
Instead of giving your dog rewards when it bites its paws, try to redirect its focus when it is about to do it, to give it distractions before it starts biting them and to reward it when it behaves the way that you want it to.