Why do dogs lick or chew their paws?

Does your pet dog lick or chew his paws? Well, all dogs lick their paws and it’s natural but a lot of licking, accompanied by chewing of the paws can be more than just a natural grooming act. It could be an indication of an underlying medical problem.

So, why do dogs lick their paws for other than grooming?

Dogs may lick or chew their paws for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Yeast infection in the gut
  • Punctured wounds or thorns
  • Fractured or broken bones, claws
  • Foreign particles stuck between the paws
  • Tick infestation or other insects
  • Skin allergies
  • Serious underlying diseases

Dog food and its side effects

Dog food can be and is found to be one of the reasons to trigger excessive paw licking in dogs. Why? Well, dog diet, or dog food, has been found containing preservatives and dyes, to name a few of the chemical elements that tend to carry side effects, though on a very low scale. It is a fact that dog food around the world, no matter how qualitative and renowned, go through intense processing, making the end product just about a mixture of many things that are shown to be irritating, if not harmful.

Yeast infection and how it makes your dog lick its paws

A dog’s gut, just like the gut of any other living being, contain yeast, that exist harmoniously if the immune system remains strong and healthy. It further allows the smooth functioning of the gut and the digestive tract. A healthy diet converted to sugar helps the yeast thrive peacefully as they feed on the sugar created in the body.

Now, the dog food contains a whole lot of ingredients, as mentioned before and that is what creates tension in the gut, triggering the yeast to itch around the gut. Even home-made food that isn’t the right combination of food ingredients tend to have the same effect.

As a result, dogs lick their paws as it gives them some sort of relief, though temporary, from the continuous itching going on inside.

Ideally, a dog’s diet should consist of fresh meat and as much as possible, unprocessed.

Dogs licking or chewing paws due to wounds or fractured bones

Sometimes, dogs lick or even chew their paws or toes owing to wounds and other such things that we fail to notice. There could be small yet painful wounds, thorns or foreign particles stuck below the paws, fractured bones of the toes, torn or broken claws.

Dogs licking their paws From Getting burned

Though rare, sometimes dogs lick their paws to soothe them from burns resulting out of stepping on hot things, like hot plates or other such things, even the hot road on a scorching summer day.    

Dogs like soothing their paws.
Dogs like soothing their paws.

Dogs licking to get foreign particles out of their paws

Sometimes, foreign particles get lodged between the dog’s paws and cause immense pain or discomfort. There could things like thorns, glass fragments, metal pieces or other sharp things that could be causing the pain.

Dogs licking or chewing owing to ticks in their paws

Most of the times, there is an infestation of ticks between the paws causing great itching and discomfort. Even one or two of them can be irritating enough and dog’s lick or chew in order to draw them out. However, ticks don’t just come out so easily as we all know. The more the irritation, the more chewing ensues.

Dogs licking their paws owing to skin allergies

Dogs can suffer from ski allergies and diseases, forcing them to continuously lick or even chew their paws or feet. Most of the times it is due to food allergies and then yeast infection that can make it worse.

Dogs licking their paws owing to underlying diseases

There could be undiagnosed underlying diseases such as tumors, interdigital cysts and various types of cancers that could be the reason for a dog’s incessant licking or chewing of the paws or the feet. There could also be a possibility of autoimmune diseases affecting the paws, causing discomfort.

The points mentioned above can lead to the paw licking or chewing behavior in dogs.

So, is paw licking in dogs a serious matter?

Excessive dog licking.
Keep an eye on excessive dog licking.

Well, though licking or chewing of paws is not always an indication of something serious, you should always look into the issue immediately for the comfort of your dog and also for his general well-being.

However, in some cases of paw licking and chewing, there could be swelling, redness, bad odour, bleeding or even limping. In such cases, consult your vet immediately to treat them properly.

Surprisingly, sometimes the licking and chewing could be caused due to excessive licking of untreated wounds in the past, leading to such a behavior.

Whatever the cause may be, seek a vet’s advice immediately.

Does your dog lick or chew its paw?