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Paw Chewing Behavior in Dog is Cause for Concern: Dog Behavior Advice for Alleviating Irritated Paws

August 23, 2009

Mom and I have received an interesting question through our dog behavior advice column about a dog that licks her paws. Although this question was addressed to my mom, who happens to be certified professional dog trainer, she and I both thought it would be better for me to address it, since I myself am of the canine variety. Plus I’ve been known to lick my paws now and again, so in this case, I’m more of the expert.

  • Q: My dog is always chewing on her feet. I’ve heard it’s allergies to grass. Is that true? Also, is there something I can do to make her feel better? – Emily
  • A: Well Emily, I’d say there is a variety of reasons why your dog might be licking her paws.

A few topics to consider:

  • If you think it might be allergies, or another medically related reason, you’ll want to have your dog checked out by her doctor. Mom and I don’t practice veterinary medicine, we’re strictly behavior, so we’d be working outside our scope of practice if we gave medical advice. You can certainly check between her toes and look closely at her skin to see if there is irritation, but there might be something you aren’t able to detect that only a medically trained professional can. If you’re in need of a vet, you can check out our Inquisitive Canine resources page for links to finding a vet in your area.
  • When/what time does she lick her paws? More often after playing in the grass? Or at specific times of the day? When she is left alone? Before going to sleep? (That’s when I lick my paws…right before going night-nights…mom says it appears similar to young humans sucking their thumbs before going to sleep…just her own observation).
  • Could it be boredom? Have you provided other items for her to lick/chew? These types of items are referred to as Enrichment. Us pooches like to chew and lick things, so her paws may be the outlet she needs. Providing an inanimate object that she loves might be your best bet for redirecting her feet chewing behavior. Something to try anyway.

Chewies like Bully sticks and antlers are some of my favorite. They last a long time, don’t splinter (I hate when things get stuck in my teeth or cause me to choke). Plus, they don’t stink up the place, and don’t stain the floor or furniture. (Mom is very happy about that!) This is a photo of me and all of my various enrichment!

I wonder if there have been studies on dogs licking paws before taking nappies? Hmm, something for this inquisitive canine to ponder…


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