Is your dog chewing paws or licking paws excessively? While occasional licking and chewing of paws is generally a normal behavior for dogs, though there are times when a dog chewing paws or licking paws excessively can be an indication that something is going on with your dog that needs to be addressed.
Today, we are going to talk about when a dog chewing paws is normal and when you should be concerned. We will also cover some of the most common reasons dogs chew or lick their paws and learn how you can help.
Let’s get started!
Dog Chewing Paws? What Gives?
There are a number of reasons dogs may chew or lick their paws.
While a dog chewing paws can be normal behavior, there are times it can be a concern or an indication that something else is going on with your pup, as we mentioned above.
Let’s take a look now at a few of the most common reasons your dog may be chewing his paws.
- Behavioral Issues
Injuries are one of the most common reasons your dog begins chewing his paw out of the blue.
If you notice your dog chewing paws or licking paws suddenly, the first thing you should do is check for an injury. This is especially true if your dog is chewing or licking one paw in particular.
Check the paw in question thoroughly and look for any sign of injury. If your dog stepped on something sharp, he could have a small cut in his paw pad that is irritating him. Common injuries to dog paws also include foreign objects like stones getting stuck between the pads, bee stings, paw pad burns from walking on hot asphalt or salted sidewalks, or even a cut or torn nail.
Pain is another common reason dog chewing paws may be occurring, though this is one of the hardest reasons to diagnose. Older dogs who are experiencing arthritic pain, joint pain, leg pain, or other types of pain in the body may turn to chewing their paws in an effort to comfort themselves or ease the pain in the best way they know how.
This could be true even if your dog is experiencing pain in areas far away or unrelated to the paw or leg.
It is tough to determine if your dog is in pain, especially considering most dogs do their best to hide their pain. While we may assume our dogs will yelp, limp, or behave in other common ways that show they are in pain, the opposite is actually true.
A dog chewing paws or licking paws could be a good indicator of a dog in pain.
If you do notice your dog chewing paws and have checked all other possibilities, it’s best to get your dog in to see his veterinarian as soon as possible for a diagnosis so you can treat or ease any pain or discomfort he may be dealing with.
Another common cause of a dog chewing paws could be allergies, and particularly food allergies. Like pain, allergies can be difficult to diagnose in a dog without the help of a veterinarian.
Environmental allergies and food allergies can both be the cause of itchy paws for dogs, which can result in excessive licking or chewing. However, allergies can cause other issues in your dog, so it’s very important to diagnose the cause of the allergy in order to remove the culprit from your dog’s diet or environment.
Parasite treatment and prevention are essential to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing for a multitude of reasons, but one of those reasons is to reduce potential paw chewing and licking issues.
Parasites like fleas or mange are common culprits for leading to your dog chewing paws because both of these parasites can cause excessive itching.
Fleas and mange, along with many other parasites, can be quite dangerous for a number of other reasons, so it’s imperative that you have your dog treated if you believe parasites are the cause of his licking or chewing.
Dermatitis is a skin condition that is often caused by allergies, whether they are food allergies or environmental allergies. Dermatitis could also be caused by chemicals you may use in your yard for gardening or pest control, or even particular types of weeds or grasses you have growing in the environment.
Dermatitis can be quite itchy for dogs, and this can certainly lead to your dog chewing paws or licking paws excessively. Dermatitis also isn’t always easy to detect with the naked eye.
However, if you notice your dog is fine before going outside and begins chewing his paws when he comes back inside, this could be a sign of paw irritation due to environmental issues.
You can reduce these problems by wiping your dog’s paws off when he comes inside using a damp towel or paw wipes specifically designed for canine use.
One of the most difficult culprits to diagnose in your dog when it comes to your dog chewing paws is behavioral issues. Behavioral issues that could lead to your dog chewing paws include issues like separation anxiety, depression, stress, or boredom.
The best way to determine if your dog is struggling with behavioral issues that are leading to him chewing his paws is to rule out the other common reasons listed above.
If you have concluded that your dog chewing paws is due to one of these behavioral issues, don’t worry – there are ways you can help remedy his anxiety, stress, or boredom.
Keep reading to learn more.
How To Alleviate Your Dog Chewing Paws- Steps to Take
There are several remedies you can use to help ease your dog’s paw chewing.
A dog chewing paws may not seem that serious, but in truth, it can lead to serious secondary infections, even if your dog chewing paws isn’t caused by something like parasites, injury, or allergies.
If your dog is chewing his paws excessively for a long enough period of time, the moisture can lead to yeast infections or bacterial infections. This can lead to even more intense itching and paw licking or chewing, as well as illnesses or injuries that could be difficult to treat.
For this reason, it’s very important not to wait to try and diagnose or treat your dog chewing paws. With that noted, here are a few steps you can take to help alleviate your dog from chewing his paws.
First, Make Sure You Diagnose or Identify The Cause Of Your Dog Chewing Paws
Because there can be a few different reasons for your dog chewing paws, it’s important to diagnose the cause so you can properly remedy the situation.
There are cases in which you can identify or diagnose why your dog is chewing or licking his paws on your own, but there are other cases that will need further investigation, which could include a trip to your veterinarian.
Again, it’s important not to wait too long to diagnose why your dog is chewing his paws. Remember, a dog chewing paws can lead to secondary infections that could make the problem worse.
Make Your Dog’s Environment More Conducive To His Particular Needs Or Allergies
Diagnosing why your dog is chewing his paws could require the process of elimination. This could include making sure your dog’s environment is conducive to his needs.
If you believe that your dog chewing paws is related to environmental allergies or products you may be using in your yard or garden, try switching products and ensuring you wash or wipe your dog’s paws off when he comes in the house after playing outside.
It may also be a good idea to do some research on the types of grasses, weeds, or plants growing in your yard and finding out if these types of vegetation could be irritating to some dogs.
Ensure Your Dog Has Proper Exercise And Mental Stimulation Throughout The Day
Another common reason for a dog chewing paws is boredom, stress, or anxiety. One of the best ways to reduce these behavioral issues is to ensure your dog is properly exercised and kept mentally stimulated throughout the day.
This could help ensure your dog does not have pent-up energy that could result in paw chewing. Walking your dog on a schedule can help, as can providing your dog with puzzle toys, treat balls, or KONGS to help keep him busy when you are away.
If you believe your dog is chewing his paws due to separation anxiety, you can look into calming chews or treats, or even pheromone plug-ins that can help ease your dog’s anxieties.
If your dog chewing paws is severe due to anxiety, you might also consider speaking with your veterinarian about other medications or treatments to help him feel better.
Invest In Products To Help Alleviate Your Dog Chewing Paws
Your dog chewing paws could be a result of injury, skin conditions, or pain. You can help alleviate paw chewing and licking by investing in over-the-counter products to help. Arthritis medications, joint supplements, creams, and ointments can help reduce the pain that can lead to your dog chewing paws, as can common canine first aid ointments or creams for minor injuries in the paw pad.
If allergies are the culprit for your dog’s chewing paws, you also have the option of purchasing dog-safe allergy ointments to help ease the itching.
Change Your Dog’s Diet
And speaking of allergies, remember that food allergies could be the reason your dog has itchy paws. Try changing your dog’s diet to a hypoallergenic dog food or limited ingredient diet dog food.
Some of the most common food allergies in dogs are due to ingredients like poultry like chicken, chicken eggs, soy, wheat, gluten, combined proteins, or dairy products.
Visit Your Veterinarian For Diagnosis Or Medications If Needed
While it may be possible for you to diagnose why your dog is chewing his paws on your own, the cause is not always so black and white. Remember your dog chewing paws could be caused by a parasitic issue, pain, or infection, so it’s important not to wait too long to get your dog into the vet if you notice he is chewing his paws excessively.
Best Products To Help Prevent Your Dog Chewing Paws
Many dogs chew paws due to allergies.
Your dog may be chewing his paws due to allergies from the environment. You can help alleviate this behavior by purchasing dog paw pad wipes that are gentle and safe for your dog’s paws. You can also purchase products that help protect your dog’s paws, especially when the weather is warm or the sidewalks have been salted.
Other products to help alleviate your dog chewing paws could include supplements to help alleviate joint pain or arthritis.
We have listed a few products we recommend to help prevent your dog from chewing his paws below.
Hcpet Dog Boots and Paw Protectors
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Your dog’s paws are amazing, and they are designed with a tough outer layer to help protect them from the elements. However, your dog’s paws may not be as strong as you think, and they are susceptible to tears, injury, burns, or irritation.
Very hot asphalt can lead to serious burns in your dog’s paw pads, as can salt commonly used on streets to help melt snow or ice during the winter.
To protect your dog’s paws, you might consider investing in dog booties like the Hcpet Dog Boots listed above.
These boots are made with non-slip and waterproof material and are designed to fit your dog comfortably and help ensure his paws are safe during outings.
While we do like dog booties and agree there are times in which they can be very useful, it should still be noted that your dog wearing dog boots can be detrimental, especially in very warm weather.
Dogs can only sweat through their paws, and this is one of the ways they stay cool. If you cover your dog’s paws for too long during hot days, this could lead to a higher risk of heatstroke.
Be sure you are using dog boots in moderation and only for short periods of time during especially warm days.
YuMOVE Hip And Joint Supplement
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Since your dog chewing paws could be due to underlying pain in the joints, we recommend getting your dog on a supplement early on, before arthritis or joint problems strike.
The above hip and joint supplement for dogs is made with glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, Chondroitin, and Green Lipped mussels to help improve and protect joints as your dog ages. You can purchase the supplements in two varieties including one for adult dogs and one for senior dogs.
These supplement not only help to alleviate pain and stiffness but even help enhance mobility. All of this could help reduce your dog from chewing or licking his paws.
Pogi’s Grooming Wipes
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Because your dog chewing paws could be related to allergies from his environment, you might consider investing in some paw pad wipes. The above dog wipes by Pogi’s are hypoallergenic wipes that can help clean your dog’s paws and body and help reduce allergies caused by grasses, weeds, or outside chemicals used in everyday gardening.
These wipes can be used on both dogs and cats. They are made with plant-based ingredients and are fragrance-free.
The Classic KONG Toy
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Last, if your dog is chewing or licking his paws due to boredom or anxiety, we recommend investing in toys that utilize food or treats to help keep him distracted and busy.
The above KONG toy is a classic dog toy that can be stuffed full of treats, dog-safe peanut butter, or KONG filler purchased at pet stores to help keep your dog from chewing his paws.
KONGs come in a few different shapes and sizes, and can even come in different chew strengths. Softer KONGs are also available for smaller dogs or puppies.
Products for Skin Issues That Lead To Paw Licking Or Chewing
You can help ease skin issues that may lead to paw chewing b y investing in store-bought products.
Dogs can begin licking or chewing their paws excessively due to injuries or foreign objects being caught in the paw pads.
They may also have dry paws or skin issues that require soothing from ointments or creams. After you have checked your dog’s paws thoroughly and if you have discovered the culprit for your dog chewing paws is an injury or irritation, you can purchase products to help soothe the area and alleviate the itching.
Here are some of the best products we recommend to help heal paw pad injuries and to help alleviate itching in your dog’s paws.
Paw Soother Stick
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The all-natural Paw Soother Stick above is designed to help alleviate dry, cracked, or irritated paws. It can even help soothe and heal paws that are itching due to environmental allergies.
The ingredients include all-natural and organic coconut oil, mango butter, cocoa butter, and chamomile to help soothe and heal irritated paws.
The stick comes in an easy-to-apply applicator and offers immediate relief from pain and itching. You can order it in the travel size product above, or the company offers a larger container for dogs with more persistent paw issues.
Sulfodene 3-Way Ointment For Dogs
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For dogs suffering from paw injuries, cuts or abrasions, we recommend Sulfodene 3-Way Ointment listed above.
It can help soothe and even heal minor scrapes or abrasions on your dog’s paw, and it is also useful for hot spots or skin issues, irritation, bug bites, or itchiness. Best of all, this paw pad ointment can help alleviate topical bacterial or fungal issues.
It provides a protective barrier against insects and allergy-causing vegetation outside and protects minor cuts, scrapes, or abrasions from bacteria while they heal.
Vet’s Preferred Advanced Paw Pad Protection
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Last, we have the above paw pad protection balm by Vet’s Preferred. This product is an ointment that helps protect your dog’s paws from a number of conditions that could lead to your dog chewing paws, and can also help soothe itchiness or irritation.
The balm helps soothe itchiness and heal wounds while also offering protection from extreme weather like heat or snow.
The order comes in a two-ounce container and is made with veterinarian-grade ingredients designed to heal and soothe dog paw pad issues. It is easy to apply and is non-toxic, which means your dog can safely lick his paws after you have applied the balm and will be fine.
Best Hypoallergenic Diet For Dogs Chewing Paws
Diet can play a huge role in your dog licking or chewing his paws.
Although food allergies in dogs can be difficult to detect, it is one of the most common reasons you could be dealing with your dog chewing paws. Luckily, it’s generally easy to alleviate this issue by simply changing your dog’s diet.
If you have diagnosed food allergies as your dog chewing paws source, we recommend investing in a limited ingredient diet dog food or a hypoallergenic diet dog food. These types of dog foods can come in different forms including dry dog food, raw dog food, or wet dog food.
You also have the option of making your dog’s limited ingredient diet dog food at home, though it’s important to remember that dogs need certain nutrients in their daily diet in order to thrive.
If you do plan on making your dog’s dog food at home, we recommend speaking with a canine nutritionist or your veterinarian first to ensure you can provide your dog with the nutrients he needs in a homemade diet.
If you would prefer to purchase your dog’s hypoallergenic or limited ingredient diet dog food, we have listed a few of our favorites for you to consider below.
PS Hypoallergenic Dog Food
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If your dog is constantly chewing his paws due to food allergies, you’ll definitely want to check out PS Hypoallergenic Dog Food. This product is designed to help alleviate allergies and ailments due to food sensitivities, and it helps specifically reduce paw chewing.
This dog food is made with limited ingredients and contains a single protein source. It is grain-free and protein-rich and comes in different recipes for your sensitive or picky dog.
We recommend the lamb recipe for your dog when it comes to soothing food allergies.
CANIDAE Pure Grain Free Limited Ingredient Dog Food
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CANIDAE is a well-known and high-quality dog food brand we trust, and we especially like the grain-free, limited ingredient diet dog food they offer for dogs with sensitivities. The above dog food is especially good if you have a dog chewing paws, and comes in a salmon and sweet potato recipe that we suggest for dogs with sensitivities.
The dog food is made with quality ingredients, though the brand can come in other recipes that combine proteins. Remember if your dog is struggling with food allergies that might be leading to your dog chewing paws, it’s best to find a limited ingredient diet dog food that has one protein source only.
Tips And Tricks To Prevent Your Dog Chewing Paws In The Future
You can help stop paw chewing before it starts by being proactive.
Since the reasons behind your dog chewing paws can vary, it can be tricky to diagnose and treat this type of ailment.
Typically, it’s easier and often less costly to work on preventative measures when it comes to your dog chewing paws than it is to stop your dog chewing paws after the fact.
The best way to prevent this type of situation is to ensure your dog is on quality dog food specified for his age, weight, and activity level. Choose dog foods with real meat protein and, if your dog is sensitive, avoid poultry in your dog’s food and stick with a limited ingredient diet or hypoallergenic dog food.
Make sure your dog’s diet includes everything he needs to thrive including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, carbs, proteins and also contains a good source of water.
Avoid dog foods that contain additives, fillers, byproducts, soy, corn, wheat, or gluten.
Along with a proper diet, it’s also wise to invest in joint supplements early, once your dog reaches about four or five. This can help reduce pain from the onset of arthritis or other joint problems as your dog ages.
Ensure your dog is properly exercised and kept mentally stimulated throughout the day, and be sure that your dog is routinely trained and socialized to help reduce anxiety or fear. We also suggest sticking to a schedule with your dog, which can help when it comes to dealing with separation anxiety.
Last, make sure your dog is on some kind of parasite prevention medication, whether it is natural or prescribed by your veterinarian. Be aware of the types of parasites prevalent in your area. This can help ensure you are protecting your dog from the most common culprits that could lead to him excessively chewing his paws.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on your dog chewing paws. Do you have a better idea now as to why your dog may be chewing his paws? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.