Initially, you should keep in mind is that there is no catchall reason why your dog licks, bites, or chews his paws, and as result, no one size fits all solution.
So let’s start by examining the potential causes for Fido’s excessive chewing and then we’ll make a few suggestions on how to get relief for parent and pup.
Possible Causes for Dog Paw Licking, Chewing and Biting
Allergy: Itchy paws are one of the most common reasons. Our little dog sinja would lick her paws after going on the grass and chew them as well. Her paws would turn quickly red and itchy. The licking and biting was an attempt to find relief like we are prone to do for a mosquito bite.
Unfortunately, the more you scratch the more it itches.. you know how that goes. In sinja’s case we learned from our Chinese medicine practitioner, Elliott Harvey, that she probably had an allergy to chemicals used on the grass by the gardeners.
Other allergies may be manifested by summer pollens, allergies to flea collars and topical treatments, (we are totally against most flea treatments as they are harsh and can damage the immune system.
Additionally, many dogs have allergic reactions to the insecticides in the treatment.) flea allergies and other environmental factors common during warm months.
Injury: If Fido’s skin has been damaged do to a nick or cut when playing indoors or running outside, this may produce itchiness of the skin. Once irritated, additional problems can develop such as flea allergies, causing even more itchiness.
Habit: If Fido is bored or not getting outside for at least 3 walks a day… he may become bored and lick or bite out of boredom which may easily become a habit. You KNOW the solution to this causation…. take Fido for a walk:)
Bacterial Infection- Open wounds or abrasions can cause a variety of infections that cause itchiness. One of the most common places that infections develop is between the toes.. where moistness, combined with warmth are natural breeding grounds for bacteria.
Anxiety: If there has been a change in routine in Fido’s life such as: your schedule, his schedule, where you live, a new dog in the house, a new baby, someone visiting… anything at all.. this can produce a state of anxiety that causes Fido to bite his paws as an outlet for potential relief… like people chewing their nails.
Compulsive Behavior : In some cases, changes in Fido’s life may cause even further behavioral manifestations that are released via compulsive behavior.. and the easiest outlet for Fido may be to lick, bite or chew his paws as a brief diversion from his emotional state.
How to Stop Fido’s Licking, Chewing and Biting
Depending on the causation there are a variety of solutions that may provide temporary relief. For sinja, when her paws were beet red after just 60 seconds of grass exposure we would give her a tiny amount of pediatric Benadryl (speak to your vet before giving any med or OTC treatment) and a quick oatmeal paw soak.
We also increased the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids that she was getting. It did the trick and any effects she has from grass now are fleeting and over in a matter of seconds at most.
Exercise.. go for walks… why do you think we are such proponents of it weekly? Dogs need exercise as a condition of good health right after their need for food and water.
Inadequate exercise causes their natural pain killers, called endorphins, to drop to abnormally low levels. This can cause an OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) type behavior, depression and start them down the path of paw chewing, licking and biting.
Dogs are naturally active. When they don’t get enough exercise, their endorphins, or natural painkillers, fall below normal levels. This can lead to depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior and, you guessed it…. paw licking.
Massage- Believe it or not this calming technique can be very helpful in providing relief.
Canine massage feels good, while stimulating the production of endorphins which are nature’s anti-depressants. Massage Fido the full length of his body from ears to tail. It may be just the solution you both need.
Behavioral Therapy- If Fido’s problem is due to behavioral reasons you may want to speak with a dog behaviorist who can help you with additional techniques to break the cycle of behavior to chewing.
SEE THE VET- If Fido’s problems are caused by a wound or are persistent, then you should see your vet to eliminate any health causations or to treat an infection.
While we are not in favor of instantly putting our dogs on meds.. we must be protective of them and see the vet immediately if there is even then potential of a health risk