Watching a dog lick or bite its paws can be disconcerting, particularly if the behavior is repetitive. Constant licking or biting can cause infections, which may lead to a problem that's harder to solve. Boredom or itchiness are common causes of paw biting. There may be some things you can do for your dog at home to stop it from biting its paws.
Dogs often chew when they are bored, particularly puppies. If you notice that your dog is licking or biting its paws, and the paw doesn't seem to be irritated or infected, try substituting a homemade rope toy instead. Alternatively, stuff an old sturdy bone with homemade treats and peanut butter. This should keep the dog busy and away from its paws. Also ensure that the dog is getting regular exercise and the opportunity to let off physical and mental energy.
Dogs can develop anxiety disorders, similar to humans. Separation anxiety, canine compulsive disorder and general anxiety can all lead to obsessive behavior, such as paw licking or biting. This behavior can cause a self-perpetuating problem if the licking causes skin irritation to the paws. A tired dog is less likely to be anxious, so try walking the dog more frequently and asking your veterinarian what you can do to modify the behavior at home.
Allergies and skin irritations are probably the most common cause of paw licking and biting in canines. The most likely culprit for allergies is the dog's food. Many dogs have allergies to common ingredients in dog food, such as chicken or even grain. Consult your veterinarian about an alternative food. In the meantime, there are many natural remedies for itchy and irritated skin. Apple cider vinegar can temporarily stop an itch. Adding yogurt or acidophilus to the diet can also alleviate irritation. Some natural oils, such as coconut oil or tea tree oil, have itch-relieving properties as well.
A Sore Paw
A dog's pads are durable, but they can be burned, cut or scraped on gravel, ice or hot pavement. If your dog is licking or biting its paws, it may be trying to relieve the itch associated with healing. Try cleaning the paw with saline solution or warm water. For minor cuts, burns or scrapes, try applying a natural remedy, such as aloe vera, several times a day to a clean paw.
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Stephanie Kain began writing professionally in 2005. She has published nonfiction and creative works in "The Alberta Council for Global Cooperation," "The Beltane Papers" and "The Ottawa Citizen." Kain holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from Lancaster University.