Dog chews paws - why it does it and how to stop it (2023)

For a dog, paw chewing is a fairly common behavior. In this article, we'll help you spot the difference between problem chews and normal chews. And give you some tips on how to prevent your dog from chewing its paws unnecessarily.

Every dog ​​must chew its paws at least once in its lifetime. However, just because this behavior is common doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't worry or look for a way to stop your dog from constantly licking and chewing on his paws.

Sometimes it can be problematic when your dog licks his paw, but other times it's completely normal behavior. It can be difficult to tell the difference between regular chewing and dangerous chewing, and stopping your dog from licking his paws more than necessary can be even more of a challenge.

When should I be concerned about my dog's chewing paws?

If your dog only chews or licks his paws occasionally or when he's dirty, you probably don't need to worry. A dog cleans its paws by licking them when they are dirty. Dogs also lick and then use their paws to clean their face and head in a similar way to cats, although this behavior is slightly less common in dogs than their feline counterparts.

If your dog seems to be licking and chewing their paws to clean them or their head, you probably don't need to worry. This is considered normal, healthy behavior. However, if your dog is licking and chewing his paws excessively, even though they don't appear to be dirty, it's time to examine his behavior.

When a dog chews its paws excessively, there is almost always an underlying problem causing its behavior. Finding that underlying problem, however, is often easier said than done.

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When to see a vet for dog chew paws

When a dog chews its paws, it is often accompanied by other symptoms that can help you get to the root of the problem. Most of the time, excessive licking and chewing can be corrected at home, but veterinary care is occasionally needed. Excessive chewing usually occurs either suddenly or lasts for a long time. By considering when your dog's abnormal behavior began and how long it lasted, you can figure out what led to the behavior in the first place.

If your dog's chewing is also accompanied by redness, swelling, odor, bleeding, or limping, it's time to take him to the vet to get checked for a possible infection. When excessive licking is present, your dog's skin can become easily irritated and open sores can develop. Since the wounds are constantly irritated and not given a chance to heal, secondary infection can easily occur.

If this is the case with your pooch, it's time to see a vet. A vet can take skin scrapings and do a culture that will show you whether or not your dog has an infection. This infection is likely treated with medication, depending on the type.

Why do dogs chew their paws?

Dogs should only chew their paws to clean them or to remove dirt from their fur. If they seem to be chewing on their paws for other reasons, it's time to put on your detective hat and keep a close eye on your dog's behavior. If your dog has suddenly started licking his paws, check his paws for puncture wounds, broken claws, and foreign objects stuck between his toes. It's not uncommon for dogs to get a thorn or burr stuck in their toes and have trouble getting them out.

On the other hand, if your dog's paw chewing is chronic, it's most likely caused by an allergic reaction. A food allergy, in particular, is the most likely culprit. Secondary infections from repeated licking and chewing can then aggravate this behavior, leading to chronicity.

While dogs may chew their paws out of habit, the habit was usually triggered originally by some other, non-behavioral problem. Fixing this problem can lead to a reduction and eventually stopping of annoying chewing.

How to stop my dog ​​from chewing his paws

The specific steps you take to mitigate the problem will depend heavily on the original cause. So let's look at each possible cause one by one and discuss possible treatments.

Dog Chew Remedy - Puncture Wounds

If you notice puncture wounds on your pet's paws, this is likely the cause of the repetitive chewing. While puncture wounds usually heal on their own, the healing process can cause the skin to become itchy, which explains your dog's chewing. It's important to encourage your dog not to constantly lick the wound to allow it to heal. Puncture wounds can become infected easily, so it's important to be on the lookout for an infection and take your pup to the vet as soon as you notice any symptoms.


Puncture wounds are usually caused by a foreign object penetrating your dog's paw, such as a B. a splinter or nail. As soon as you notice a puncture wound, it's important to examine it to make sure the cause isn't still in your dog's paw. If possible, you should remove the foreign body with tweezers. If this is not possible or you notice severe redness and discharge from the wound, take your dog to the vet immediately.

If your dog has long hair that seems to be stuffing itself into the wound, it is probably in your dog's best interest to shave or trim the hair around the puncture. You should not put ointment on your skinPet's woundwithout first talking to the vet. Some ointments intended for humans are not safe for pets, especially if ingested. If a puncture wound is the cause of your dog's paw chewing, it will likely go away once the wound has healed.

Remedy for Dog Chew Paws - Broken Claws

Broken claws are fairly uncommon in dogs, but they can happen. Since a dog's claws are more sensitive than human fingernails, injuries and tears can occurclaware often very painful and prone to infection.

If you notice your dog's nails have snapped, it's important to provide first aid and then take them to the vet for follow-up care. Your priority in treating your dog's broken nail is to stop the bleeding. A dog's nail can bleed quite a bit when it's broken, so don't be surprised if your dog's paw is suddenly covered in blood. However, pressure can stop blood flow within five to ten minutes.

Don't try to remove the claw even if it seems to be hanging. Your dog's nails are extremely close to the last toe bone and improper clipping or pulling of the nail can result in serious injury to your dog. Instead, throw a towel over it and take your pooch to the vet right away.

Remedy for Dog Chew Paws - Foreign Objects Between Toes

When your dog is romping outside in the woods, it's not uncommon for him to have things caught between his toes and have trouble pulling them out. Luckily, your dog has you to help him remove that pesky ridge or brim between his toes. This is usually pretty easy with just a pair of scissors and some patience.

The hardest part of removing a foreign object stuck between your dog's toes is finding the object. You probably know which paw the object is in, but finding the exact location can take a lot of patience. Offer your dog a wooden spoon with some peanut butter on it and slowly start opening up and looking between your dog's toes.

Because burrs usually wrap themselves in fur, it's usually best to feel between and under each toe with your fingers. Burrs are almost always easier to feel than see. Once you find the object, simply cut it out with scissors. Try not to pull the object too hard; Your dog's paws are very sensitive and excessive pulling can cause even the calmest of dogs to bite!

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Remedies for Dog Chew Paws - Allergic Reaction

Chronic dog paw chewing is almost always caused by oneallergic reaction. In general, this reaction is almost always due to your pet's dog food. There are a number of ways to combat this problem, but switching to dog food with minimal ingredients is usually the easiest and most straightforward.

You could also gradually eliminate food from your pet's diet until the problem resolves itself, but this usually takes much longer than simply switching to an allergy-friendly dog ​​food and is almost impossible unless your pet is fed raw.

If switching your pet's diet doesn't work, next look at the chemicals you use in your home. Your dog could be allergic to his shampoo or to the cleaner you use on the floor. Try changing each cleaner one at a time until your dog seems to recover.

Environmental allergens can also cause your pooch to have an allergic reaction. In this case, it is usually more difficult to identify the culprit. After all, how are you supposed to narrow down your dog's allergy to a specific type of weed or pollen? In this case, it is best to take your dog to the vet. Your vet may be able to help you figure out what your dog is allergic to or prescribe a medication to help relieve the reaction.

If nothing you seem to be doing is working, it's important to get your pet to the vet. Oftentimes, your dog's chewing isn't JUST chewing. Instead, it's likely being caused by another disorder or problem that needs to be discovered and treated.

Remedies for Dog Chew Paws – Secondary Infections

Secondary infections usually take root after your pooch has already started chewing on his paws. In this case, treating the original cause will not stop your dog from chewing. The secondary infection must also be treated. For example, if your dog originally started chewing his paw because of a skin allergy, he may not necessarily stop after the allergen is removed if a secondary infection has set in.

The most common symptoms of secondary infection are swelling, redness, and tenderness. Your dog might even hold up the infected foot while walking, or avoid walking altogether.

secondary infectionsneeds to be medicated by a veterinarian. Topical ointments may also be prescribed along with antibiotics or antifungals. Dogs usually respond well to thisdrug, and the infection clears up within a week or two. If you expect your pet to have a secondary infection, seek veterinary care before it gets worse. Your veterinarian can plan the appropriate treatment for your pooch and prescribe the right medication.

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Dog chews paws - why it does it and how to stop it (2)

Dog chews paws - why it does it and how to stop it (3)

Dog Chew Paw Treatment

As you can see, treatment for your pooch paw chewing will depend on the cause. Usually the cause can be located by the owner and treated from there. However, if you're having trouble identifying the cause of your dog's chewing or your at-home treatment doesn't seem to be working, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Stopping your pet from chewing is important to prevent a secondary infection from occurring, and your vet will likely want to see your dog to make sure their paws aren't already infected. Also, a visit to the vet never hurts!

How to stop dogs from chewing paws

When your pet starts chewing their paws, it can be extremely frustrating, especially if you can't figure out the exact cause. Luckily, there are only a few possible causes of chewing behavior and many of them can be easily ruled out. Hopefully you can pinpoint this cause and begin treating your pet. When in doubt, your vet is just a phone call away!

References and further reading

  • "Dog paw injury? How to care for the wound.” Dear companion animal clinic. 2016
  • Bushardt, Lynn. “First Aid for Broken Nails in Dogs.” VCA Hospitals.
  • Lewis, Thomas. "Diagnosing Food Allergy in Dogs and Cats - Taking Your Case to Court." Veterinary Medicine. 2017
  • White, Stephen. "Pododermatitis." Veterinary Dermatology. 1990
  • Breathe, Rory. "Clinical, immunological, and histopathological findings in a subpopulation of dogs with pododermatitis." Veterinary Dermatology. 2005

The founder of the Labrador site

Dog chews paws - why it does it and how to stop it (5)

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Pippa Mattinson is the bestselling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, The Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and theDogsnet online training program

Pippa's online training courses launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on theDogsnet-Website


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