Why do dogs lick and chew their feet?

Posted by Argos, 15 February 2019, last updated 30 June 2023.

Do you find your dog often likes to lick or chew at its feet and paws? It might seem like an everyday occurrence. But if your dog is causing its paws to bleed or swell, it could it be a sign of something more serious.   

Here are some of the reasons why your dog might be licking or chewing their feet, and how you can deal with their chewing and licking habit.

Dog paw injuries

If you spot your dog licking or chewing their feet, you should check they haven’t injured themselves.

If your dog likes to run about outside, it can be very easy for them to get things stuck in their feet or between their toes such as grass seeds. If your dog is chewing or licking their paw after a walk, they might have cut themselves on something sharp, such as thorns. If left untreated, it could develop into a more serious problem and cause extra discomfort for your dog.

Other potential injuries which can lead to your dog licking or chewing its paws could be a broken claw. If you notice your dog is biting their nails or in between their toes double check your dog’s paws, and if you see any signs of bleeding, go and see your vet.

Dogs with allergies

One of the other most likely reasons why your dog chews its paws could be down to allergies.

Allergies in dogs can be caused by a specific ingredient in your dog’s food, which may be having an effect on your dog’s skin causing it to itch. One way to combat food-related allergies is by switching your dog’s food to hypoallergenic food.

Your dog’s allergy could also be due to something as simple as dust mites or fleas which are causing your dog to chew its paws. You can protect your dog from fleas by utilising a flea treatment. But to rid your house of dust mites requires a bit more work. To get rid of dust mites, we recommend using a dog bed which has a removable cover that can be washed in hot water regularly.

Even a change in the season can cause potential allergies in your dog, which could show up in the form of swelling, redness or your dog licking and biting excessively. This is due to the various plants that spring up outside, spreading different types of pollen and of course your dogs’ feet are regularly coming into contact with these potential allergens out on walks or in the garden, making them more likely to cause irritation.

If you suspect your dog has a skin allergy, you should consult with your vet, who can also advise on a solution.

Biting their paws due to stress

Licking and chewing feet can be one of the key signs of stress in dogs and is linked to Canine Compulsive Disorder.

If you think your dog is chewing its feet due to a behavioural problem such as Canine Compulsive Disorder, as opposed to a medical issue, there are animal behaviourists who can help with the problem. However, you should start by consulting your vet in order to rule out any medical causes.

Your dog may be secretly licking or chewing their paws if they still show signs of bleeding or soreness. For dogs with separation anxiety, it is common for them to bite their paws whilst you’re not there, due to feeling anxious or stressed about being left alone. Read some of our tips on helping your dog to feel less stressed or anxious here.

What should I do if my dog’s paws bleed or swell?

If your dog’s paws are swollen or bleeding, it could be a sign of something stuck in your pet’s foot. The first thing to do is to check your dog’s paws for any objects which may be causing discomfort and remove any objects you find. Next, soak and clean your dog’s paw – you can use just salt and water. If the swelling still doesn’t go down, you should consult your vet.

How to stop my dog chewing his paws?

It can be difficult to get your dog to stop licking or chewing their paws, particularly if you’re not at home all the time to keep watch. One way you can keep a close eye on what your dog gets up to when you’re not around is by investing in a pet camera. Not only will you be able to check on your dog regularly throughout the day, but you can also help reduce any anxiety by feeding treats and talking to your dog via the camera. There’s no one-stop way for preventing your dog from nibbling at its feet. This is because it’s dependent on the original cause of the problem. However, if you’re still stuck on what to do about your dog’s licking and biting habit, we recommend a trip to your vets for further advice.

Now you understand your dog’s behaviours a little more, remember to protect yourself from unexpected vet bills with insurance. Explore our dog insurance policies today at Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

Argos Limited is an Appointed Representative of Home Retail Group Insurance Services Limited (HIS). HIS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 314050). Registered office: 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT (registered in England and Wales, no 04109436). HIS act as an introducer to Pinnacle Insurance plc, who sell, administer and underwrite the policy and who are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (register number 110866). Registered office: Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 2XX (registered in England and Wales, no 01007798) . HIS and Pinnacle Insurance plc are not part of the same corporate group.

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