How to Stop Your Dog from Licking or Biting His Paws
4 November, 2014

Our pups love to be cheerful, bark, lick your face and just be a fun furry member of our families.  Similar to cats, dogs will lick their paws if they are itching or maybe take a bite to get something out of it.  However, if your dog bites or licks his paws constantly, there is a bigger issue at hand (or paw!), either medical or behavioral.  First you need to figure out why your dog is licking or biting his paws to know how to stop it.

Dogs bite or lick their paws for a number of reasons, including anxiety and several medical conditions.

Your dog will bite or lick his paws if he has allergies

Your dog will bite or lick his paws if he is having an allergic reaction. Dogs can get dermatitis which is like a rash in humans. This is an irritation on the skin that results from contact with chemicals, such as soap or pesticides.


Although more unlikely, dogs can also have allergic reactions from ingredients in their food. Environmental allergens, like mold or mildew, can also cause an allergic reaction that could affect your dog’s skin. When the skin becomes irritated due to an allergen, your dog will lick and bite the skin; because his paws are easily accessible, these are the most commonly chewed on area of his or her body.

Your dog might lick or nibble at his paws if he has dry skin

Dry skin can be as uncomfortable for a dog as it is for a human.  The dry air that comes with winter can cause your dog’s skin to dry out. If your dog’s diet does not contain enough fatty acids, which help to moisturize and protect his skin, that could be a cause of dryness.

When your dog’s skin is dry, it becomes itchy or irritated, and your dog may bite or lick his paws due to it being itchy! And when your dog is biting and licking at his skin, this can cause the dry skin to become chapped, making him more uncomfortable.

Your dog may bite or lick his paw due to a wound or injury

Your dog may also bite or lick his paw if he is in pain. A cut, a thorn or splinter, or rocks stuck in the pads of his foot are among the common causes of pain in a dog’s foot. Your dog could be trying to remove something from his or her paw to alleviate the pain of a wound.

Your dog could simply be biting or licking his paw due to boredom

Paw biting or licking is not always a reaction to an allergy or pain. A dog may simply bite or lick his paw as a result of boredom and it then becomes a habit.

Your dog may also bite of lick his or her paw when he is anxious about external factors in his environment, such as a move to a new area or the addition of a new family member or pet! Dogs can also come down with conditions similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans; paw biting and licking is a manifestation of this disorder, which is often caused by stress or anxiety.  It is similar to a human biting his nails when he gets nervous or stressed.

How to stop your dog from licking or biting his paws

Depending on the cause of the biting, there are some things you can do to help your dog stop this habit.

1. The first thing you should do is examine his paws for signs of injury; if your dog has a wound that has gotten infected, you may need to take him to see the vet for treatment. If he has a foreign object embedded in his pads or his paw, remove the object and put an antiseptic on the wound.

2. Make sure to securely lock areas that your dog has access to which might have anything that can cause an allergy such as cleaning detergents.  Try to have your dog stay out of your garden or other areas where you may use fertilizer or any other chemicals. Use only a shampoo that is made for dogs so that his skin won’t become overly dry. You can also buy shampoo for your dog that contain moisturizing ingredients to hydrate his skin.

3. Feed your dog a high-quality pet food that contains a well-balanced formula of vitamins and minerals, including fatty acids. Don’t let your dog have table scraps or human food that his body could be sensitive to.  Add some apple cider vinegar to his food to see if that can help with an allergy.  It can do wonders for your dog.

4. If you think your dog is biting or licking his paws out of fear or boredom, try giving your dog a chew toy or interactive toy to divert his or attention.  Of course, you can only do that when you are at home, but if you have a lot of toys and keep emphasizing the benefits of playing with toys with treats and/or positive reinforcement, it should do the trick.

If none of the above work and your dog is still licking or biting his paws, make sure to take your dog to your veterinarian for a thorough examination.  And, if your vet can’t find anything, then it is definitely a behavioral issue and you might want to consult a dog behavioral expert.



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