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How to Stop Your Dog From Licking His Paws

How to Stop Your Dog From Licking His Paws

Like humans, dogs sometimes feel itchy. And the best way to handle an itch is to scratch it. Since dogs don’t have hands, they’ll often use their mouths to scratch the itchy parts of their body. So, it’s not unusual for your dog to chew or lick his paws— he’s likely just trying to take care of a pesky itch. However, constant and extended biting, licking, and chewing can lead to health problems down the line, and is not a normal behavior. If your dog continually licks at or chews his paws, he is dealing with either a behavioral problem or a medical discomfort.
Why is He Chewing? The first order of business is finding a cause for the behavior. Dogs will lick and bite their paws if they’re suffering from dermatitis or an allergic reaction, for example. Dogs can be allergic to their food, materials in their blanket or bed, or even other animals in your home. If allergens irritate a dog’s skin, the most likely area to get bitten and chewed is the paws simply because they’re easy to access. Dogs can also nibble and lick at dry skin or wounds. Check your dog’s paws carefully and bring him in to see a veterinarian to rule out any medical problems that might be causing the behavior.
Behavioral Problems Dogs sometimes chew from boredom and anxiety. A dog with nothing better to do might lick his paws all day, while a dog anxious about being alone or recently moving into a new house might chew his paws to vent the stress. It’s similar in many ways to human obsessive compulsive disorder; the dog chews his paws to make himself feel better without taking note of the damage he’s causing to his body.
Stopping Licking and Biting After you’ve ruled out a medical problem, the next step is stopping the behavior. Here are some things that might help:
  • Prevent your dog from accessing any area of your home that might contain allergens, such as garden areas or your laundry room (detergents are a common cause of allergies in dogs).
  • Wash your dog with shampoos made specifically for dogs; try one made with oatmeal for softer, less irritated skin.
  • Feed your dog high-quality pet food to ensure his coat and skin stay healthy.
  • Finally, offer your dog a diversion when you catch him licking his paws. Provide him with a chew toy or something else to play with that isn’t his own feet.
Licking, chewing, and biting are manageable behaviors once you figure out what’s causing them. Give your dog a healthy diet, lots of exercise, plenty of toys, and a low-allergen environment and he should be just fine.
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