Sometimes dogs lick and chew their paws. In some cases, it’s just a normal pre-occupation. However, there are times when chewing their paws can be a sign that there is a problem. By understanding why our furry, four-footed pals chew their paws, we can decide whether they just need more playtime and exercise to distract them, some gentle supplements to ease irritation or a trip to the vet.
What is normal chewing behavior?
It’s common for dogs to chew on their paws a little. Sometimes they just want to clean their paws. Or there may be a thorn bothering your pup. However, it could be so much more, so it’s worth checking on Fido if his paw-chewing is more than just a little day-to-day grooming. Watch for habitual licking or chewing, smelly paws, irritated skin, raw patches, balding spots, or other concerning signs of a more serious problem. Whether your dog is trying to alleviate discomfort or pain - that is the next question we should be itching to answer, pun intended. Here are the usual suspects:
Dry skin. This can be brought on by the onset of the lower temperatures of winter or even the salt used on icy streets. Extremely dry weather also has the same effect. Harsh chemicals in their soap or shampoo, from lawn and garden pesticides, or from harsh home cleaners can cause their feet to become dry, irritated, and itchy.
Allergies. If Fido’s paw-chewing occurs as the season changes, then his itch could be a symptom of seasonal allergies. Pollen, mildew, and mold are common seasonal irritants. If their paws are irritated after switching his food, it could be a food allergy. Figuring out exactly what food or ingredient set off his allergic reaction and chewing behavior will require a process of elimination and trial and error.
Parasites. We should all be familiar with signs and symptoms that point to the presence of fleas, mites, or ticks. In between the toes is a favorite spot for these suckers to hide. These pests can carry blood-borne pathogens that cause more significant problems for dogs, as well as humans. Watch out for hitchhikers, particularly after hikes and walks through the park or on dirt paths.
Pain or discomfort. This can be caused by a foreign object that got stuck in between the toes or on the pads of their paws, such as a splinter, thorn, or pebble. Or the culprit could be a corn (some breeds are more prone than others), a cracked claw, or an injury. Proper grooming can ensure every dog’s nails stay short and healthy. For injuries and similar problems, a trip to the vet can determine the best course of action.
Many commercial dog foods contain difficult-to-digest additives and preservatives. EcoEats is an all-natural, preservative- and additive-free dog food. Just add your protein of choice, and your dog will have the closest he can get to a whole food diet without the expensive grocery bill, and the hours spent preparing dog food from scratch. Give it a try today!
When is paw-chewing (or licking) beneficial?
Normal paw-chewing actually has health benefits for some dogs. Dogs literally lick their wounds to aid the healing process. Their saliva activates the cells responsible for sealing the wound and transfers antibacterial enzymes to fight off infection. Dog guardians should ensure their dog’s paws are clean, free-from infection, and healthy. However, some licking can be a sign of healthy self-care and grooming.
Paw-chewing might offer them a bit of relief, but it can cause other problems and can worsen existing ones. Immediate and proper treatment of the underlying cause of the behavior is essential to put a stop to constant, or worse, chronic chewing.
Proper hygiene, grooming, and protection from the elements; adequate hydration; a healthy diet; and using all-natural and pet-friendly products will help keep every dog’s paws free-from chewing and in tiptop shape.