Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws?

Dogs chew on different objects, and may be found chewing their paws. This is a symptom that shouldn't be ignored, as it can point to a number of health issues. A dog with an emotional problem may chew on his paws. Treatment should be administered, as this destructive behavior can lead to secondary skin infections, hair loss or even permanent damage to the skin.

Stress Induced Chewing

Stress is among the leading causes of dogs chewing on their paws. The stress is a complex problem that can be triggered by a past event or a constant element in the dog's environment. It takes a detective's eye to identify the source of stress. Some possible sources of stress may include:

  • Separation from an owner or abandonment, which causes the well known separation anxiety, causing the dog to chew on his on fur and skin as a sign of nervousness
  • The absence of a person in the family (i.e., someone gone to college or a deceased family member)
  • The appearance of a new person in the family such as a new baby or a new partner
  • A new pet
  • Abusive behavior of owner or previous owner
  • Changes in the house
  • Moving to a new house
  • Changes in the daily routine and walking schedule
  • A disease that doesn't get discovered
  • Lack of affection from owners

There are several other factors that may cause stress. It is essential to pinpoint the exact cause and try to fix the problem as soon as possible. The chewing behavior should disappear once the dog feels comfortable and safe again. Meanwhile, a lamp shade collar may be used to prevent the dog from chewing his paws.

Boredom and Energy in Excess

Dogs that are bored or have too much energy will find a means to spend their time, and most often it will be in the form of a destructive behavior. Chewing paws is common and may be stopped by making sure the dog gets plenty of exercise and sufficient attention. If you are absent for a long time during the day, you should consider a daycare or a dog sitter.

Skin Infections

Skin infections may be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi and these agents will cause itchiness. The paws are accessible and the dog will try to soothe the itching by licking and chewing the skin. Antibiotics and fungicides can eliminate the skin infections and once the dog has a healthy skin, he will stop chewing his paws.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can cause dogs to chew their paws. The allergies can be caused by inhalants, different materials or even food. Antihistamines or steroid creams can ease the skin itchiness, but a long term treatment should be established.

External Parasites

Fleas or other external parasites can bite the dog and cause itchy skin. The dog will chew his paws, attempting to remove the parasites and soothe his itching skin.