Why do dogs bite their feet?

Dog biting feet

So… why do dogs bite their feet? Many owners that witness their dogs chewing their own feet are not too sure whether they should be concerned or not. This dog behaviour ranges from gentle licking to prolonged chewing of the paws and toes. The latter can be of concern to some owners, and this worry is heightened by their lack of knowledge about paw chewing.

 

Why Do Dogs Chew on Their Feet?

A dog licking itself is generally just them grooming themselves. However, prolonged attention to a particular area can also be a sign of pain, discomfort, anxiety, dry skin, or even fleas. So is the case for chewing of the paws too.

 

The main reasons why dogs bite their feet …

The most common reasons for dogs to chew their feet are as follows:

The biting might be caused by an injured paw

Dogs licking or chewing their paws could be a sign that they have incurred some sort of injury, wound, or cut to their toe pads. It could also indicate a fractured or broken bone or claw.

Injuries often happen when a dog has been exercising energetically or covering unfamiliar ground off the leash.

If you notice your dog licking or chewing its feet excessively, or putting his paw on you more than usual, have a visible check for signs of injury. 

 

Your dog might have dry skin

Just as cold and dry weather can cause your skin to dry out, so too can the weather or general climate have a similar effect on your dog’s skin. Another reason for your dog’s skin to dry out is that it might not be getting sufficient fatty acids.

These acids are essential for keeping their skin moist and prevent it from drying out. Excessive licking or chewing of its paws might be your dog trying to get moisture back into its skin.

 

Parasites often cause a dog to chew their feet

Another reason for your dog’s attention to its paws may be due to the presence of parasites. Fleas, mites, or ticks can cause irritation in a dog’s paws which leads to excessive licking or chewing to get relief. 

A visual inspection might show the presence of ticks, but mites and fleas are more difficult to spot and could go unnoticed. Get your vet to conduct a microscopic check if you think parasites might be the issue.

 

The dog is grooming his coat

One reason for your dog’s paw licking that you should have no concern about is self-grooming. If you’ve just returned from a walk with your dog, or if it’s been outside in the garden playing, it is normal for it to groom itself afterwards.

There may be mud on its pads that needs licking to get rid of, or there could be something stuck between its toes that requires a chew to dislodge. 

dog biting his paw

How to Stop my Dog from Biting his Paws

The way to stop your dog from biting or chewing its paws will depend upon the reason for this behaviour in the first place. Here are a few general recommendations to minimise the behaviour:  

    • Make sure your dog’s diet is healthy and well-balanced.
    • Ensure to exercise your dog regularly.
    • Give your dog plenty of contact with other dogs and people. 
    • Keep your dog mentally stimulated with toys and play.
    • Give your dog regular health checks with a vet.
    • Keep your dog clean, and well-groomed.
    • Use medications and powders to prevent parasites. 
    • Check and clean your dog’s paws on a regular basis.  
    • Continue to train your dog as they grow.
    • Avoid leaving your dog alone for prolonged periods.

For information on the best home remedies, check out these tips.

Dog chewing paws raw

If your dog is biting or chewing its paws to the extent that they’ve become raw, then this is a cause for concern. As soon as you notice this, contact your vet. Note whether the condition has come on suddenly, or if it has been a result of prolonged chewing.

Look out for other associated issues such as bad smell, swelling, rash, bleeding, limping, etc.

 

So, why do dogs bite their feet or chew their feet?

Observation, and knowing your dog’s behaviour is really the only way for you to get an idea of why your dog is chewing its paws. Often, it is easy to ignore your dog’s behaviour because it seems trivial or playful.

It could, however, be something that needs attention. They cannot tell you what is wrong, so try to work it out for them.