Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws?

Dog chewing habits range from sinking their gnashers into a fun chew toy, to less desirable habits (like gnawing on your favourite shoes). This can happen for a variety of reasons: sometimes they enjoy the sensation, sometimes it’s out of boredom. Other times, you might notice your dog chewing their paws instead.

So: why do dogs chew their paws? It may be a part of their normal grooming habits, where dogs gently bite their paws in order to clean out debris or to relieve a temporary itch due to an environmental irritant. If your dog chews or licks their paws obsessively, it could point to an underlying condition.


Dogs can develop allergies leading to skin conditions like dandruff or dermatitis - a condition which causes the skin to feel inflamed and irritated. Unlike normal chewing behaviour to relieve an itch, when dogs chew due to an allergy it can appear repetitive and persistent, and your dog may also be itchy in other areas of their body. You may also see other signs of irritation such as:

● Redness surrounding the nose and eyes
● Gastrointestinal issues
● Swelling and sneezing

Allergies can occur due to a variety of environmental factors including furniture, certain plants - they may even be due to a food allergy. In more severe cases, acute allergies can cause infection and even anaphylactic shock in dogs, which can be life-threatening. If you notice signs of acute allergy, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Allergy Tests

If your dog is licking or chewing their paws due to an allergy, it’s important to speak with your vet, who can prescribe topical ointments and anti allergy medications to help your pet. While you are at the practice, it’s important to ask about getting to the root cause of the allergy; as while medicines can offer your dog relief, prevention is better than cure.

If your dogs licking and chewing might be due to a food allergy or other allergen, it’s a good idea to ask your vet about skin or blood tests to help identify any potential allergy triggers. This will keep your dog from biting or licking their paws - and in some cases it could save their life.


Another question might be to ask: why do dogs seem to chew their paws at certain times of the year? Itching or licking paws can become very common in late summer and early autumn - as this is when parasites such as harvest mites appear.

If your dog becomes infected by these, you may see tiny red dots under their skin (larvae) - which can become extremely irritating. Other potential parasites include Demodex or Sarcoptes Scabiei (mange), which can also cause crusty skin and loss of fur - but fleas are the most common.

Signs of internal parasites in dogs tend to involve gastrointestinal or respiratory issues, while external parasite symptoms can show up as irritation, redness and inflammation, hair loss and restlessness. If you notice any of these alongside your dog’s paw licking habits, speak with your vet about the best course of treatment for your dog.


At other times your dogs licking and chewing habits may be due to infection. Bacterial and yeast infections can create irritation in a dogs paw, creating itching and discomfort. Yeast infections can occur in and around the ears, in skinfolds and in between your dogs paw.

If it is a bacterial infection, this could not only become worse if your dog chews or licks their injury - it could make your dog seriously unwell. If you notice any of the following symptoms of bacterial infection, it’s a good idea to contact your vet.

● Pain
● Bleeding
● Pus
● Heat
● Swelling
● Redness

In the immediate event of an injury (such as something becoming stuck in their paw), check each of your dog’s feet carefully for any foreign bodies. This can include thorns, or other substances such as salt or grit from de-iced roads (be especially careful of certain chemicals such as anti-ice products getting on your pet’s paw pads, as these can be harmful to dogs, especially if it causes your dog to bite their paws as well).

In minor cases such as small cuts or splinters in your dogs paw, it’s possible to treat this yourself, but if something has become embedded and is difficult to extract - or if your dog has a more serious injury, take your dog to the vet as quickly as possible.

Bones and Muscle

It might sound unusual, but paw licking could be a sign of musculoskeletal injury such as sprain, strain or even a fractured bone (it could also be another sign of bone pain related to canine arthritis). One way to spot this is if you notice your dog is biting or licking their paws while also limping or whimpering.

If your dog is in pain, it’s also important to note they may not necessarily vocalise: some dogs suffer in silence or exhibit other “out of character” behaviours such as avoiding their food. If you notice any of these, speak to a trained veterinarian who can help you to identify the cause.

Claws and Paws

If your dog has a broken or loose claw that has not fully detached, this can cause discomfort and irritation. Similarly, if your dog has an ingrown claw (common in smaller breeds due to the structure of their feet) this can also create itchiness and discomfort.

Your dog may also develop blisters, or ID cysts. Also known as interdigital cysts, these are swollen areas between the toes commonly found in flat-faced breeds such as pugs. These are easily treatable by a trained veterinarian, however they can reoccur. In any case, it’s best to inspect your pets paws regularly, especially if your dog is licking them excessively.

Behavioural Issues

Sometimes, dogs chew their paws due to an underlying behavioural condition. But why do dogs chew their paws when stressed? Well - in much the same way that humans might chew their fingernails. That said, dogs can’t say how they feel - but you watch out for any unusual behavioural changes: some dogs might vocalise (for example whimpering) or become agitated, while others might become quiet and withdrawn.

Whether your pet is chewing their paws out of boredom or anxiety, trained animal behaviourists can offer advice on how to stop dogs fromlicking or chewing their paws while addressing any underlying causes.

Looking For More Advice?

You can find more helpful tips on our Pet Info Hub, including advice on training tips including teaching them basic commands and dog walking. Whether you’re taking an older dog out for a leisurely stroll or helping a pup to take their first steps out in the big wide world, our range of accessories, including our dog leads and dog harness range will make sure that you’re fully equipped every step of the way.

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