Dogs are known for all sorts of melodramatic acts, which is one of the many reasons we love them. Whether chasing their tails or scratching behind their ears, these furry comedians find amusing ways to relieve their itch.
Though it’s natural and okay for dogs to scratch their ears, necks, and heads, excessive chewing of their legs can be worrisome, especially when you notice red bumps on the paws. Thus, leaving many dog owners pondering the same question, “why does my dog bite his leg.”
In this post, we’ll delve into the surprising reasons behind these compulsive behaviors, how to address them, and possible treatment options.
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Causes of Foot Chewing in Dogs
There are tons of reasons why your dog bites or licks his paws. Usually, it boils down to the dog’s health or the potential source of stress. However, it’s best to take your dog to the vet for further examination and treatment when accompanied by other symptoms.
Without further ado, let’s consider the wide variety of underlying reasons why dogs get too serious about chewing their paw pads:
When your dog’s persistent chewing habit gets out of hand, one of the primary reasons is an allergic reaction. The dog’s skin might be reacting to the soap or pesticides, which causes the dog to chew their paws excessively. In the worst case, this can result in acute moist dermatitis, or what’s commonly called hot spots.
In addition, food allergies can be another underlying cause. Keep in mind that any dog’s food has the potential to trigger an allergic reaction.
Also, exposure to environmental allergens such as bug bites, pollen, and mold can cause the dog’s coat to become greasy or dry.
2. Anxiety or Boredom
Like humans, dogs lick or chew on themselves when they get nervous, anxious, or lonely. This obsessive behavior of foot chewing accompanies other anxiety signs like excessive drooling, increased heart rate, and breathing, poor digestion, odd posturing, etc.
3. Ticks, Fleas, and Other Parasites
Parasite fleas, ticks, and mites are among the most common causes of worrisome dog biting, licking, and chewing behavior. These external parasites live on the dog’s coat and paws, causing discomfort and several health issues.
Consequently, these fur animals attempt to eliminate these microscopic animals by chewing or biting the affected areas. However, if left unaddressed, these pesky parasites might lead to skin infection and irritation, among many others.
4. Hormonal Imbalances
Hormonal imbalances occur when there’s too much hormone cortisol or a lack of thyroid hormone. This leads to skin infections in dogs, which might appear as bald spots on the skin.
5. Dry Skin
Dogs with dry skin tend to gnaw on themselves to eliminate the immense itchiness. During the winter weather, you might notice some signs of dry skin, like cracks or dandruff flakes on the skin. Another common cause of itchiness in dogs is a lack of fatty acids, which keeps the coat and skin of your furry friend healthy.
6. Skin Infection
As discussed earlier, there are several reasons for dogs’ skin being infected, from excess hormone cortisol production to infections. When you notice small, red bumps on the affected area, then it’s likely the bacterial infection is the root cause of excessive biting and licking behavior.
Suppose you notice a waxy discharge from the ears. In that case, it’s best to call your vet to provide an effective treatment plan for the fungal infection. Another common infection in dogs is a yeast infection. Dogs with yeast infections tend to nibble or bite their paws, ears, and other affected areas.
7. The Dog’s Paws Are Burnt
As a dog owner, paying extra attention to ground temperature during summer is essential to prevent your furry friend from burning his paw pads. Hence, it’s best to purchase special dog wear, like doggie booties, for safe walks in the summertime.
Effective Treatment Options For Abnormal Biting, Licking, Chewing, and Scratching
By now, you should have figured out that dogs chew or nibble on themselves for a plethora of reasons. Thus, it’s best to immediately check with your vet to avoid further health deterioration or complications.
The proper treatment plan to get your dog to stop chewing on his paws or skin hinges on the root cause of the compulsive behavior.
1. Get Rid of The Parasites
Suppose your dog bites himself because of ticks and fleas. In that case, you should ask your vet to recommend a product to eliminate unwelcome parasites. To attenuate the chances of re-infestation, ensure the upholstered furniture, carpet flooring, and the dog’s bed are washed or vacuumed regularly. Also, you should ensure and apply the product on other dogs in the household – don’t take chances.
2. Change The Dog’s Food
For dogs with food allergies, it’s paramount to figure out the potential trigger food and stop feeding your fur animal. This immediately solves the dog’s paw nibbling behavior.
Most times, it’s the animal proteins (not the grains, surprised?) responsible for the food allergy in dogs. Ask your vet to create a specific diet plan for your dog. This plan might include fatty acid supplements like fish oil to tackle dry skin, keep the coat healthy, and boost the dog’s immune system.
If your dog can’t stop biting his paws, then your vet might have to prescribe medications to relieve the discomfort and treat existing skin infections or hot spots. Usually, topical medication, oral antibiotics, and anti-itch products should suffice.
4. Stop the Compulsive Behavior
When dogs chew compulsively, it leads to severe damage and poor health. Hence, it’s your responsibility to stop your dog from chewing excessively.
There are several ways you can quickly achieve this with zero effort. My favorite two options are bitter spray and a special collar. The formal is excellent when the dog licks a particular area, while the latter is ideal for keeping the dog’s mouth off the hot spot.
5. Find Ways to Alleviate Boredom or Anxiety
Dogs lick their paws extremely when they are scared or stressed. It’s a coping mechanism. So, it’s a no-brainer that getting rid of the stressors might automatically curb this worrisome habit.
One of many proven ways to eliminate boredom or anxiety in dogs is by providing enough exercise, affection, and attention. Also, engaging them in dog biting training, such as biting on their toys, can help relieve stress and stop unhealthy licking or chewing habits.
Can special diets or treats help stop my dog from chewing his legs?
Special diets or treats may prove helpful for dogs with excessive chewing behavior. Aside from that, it provides your dog with the much-needed nutrients to support his dental health. Also, feeding your dog the right treat or diet tailored to his condition is important.
Can dog chewing lead to bacterial infections?
Regardless of why your dog chew his leg, it can lead to wounds and skin irritation, which, if not properly managed, leads to bacterial infections. Additionally, it’s important to treat dogs with fungal infections. Ask your vet for the proper antifungal medication to relieve yeast infection symptoms and stop the unhealthy dog chewing habit.
What underlying health problems can result in excessively leg-biting behavior?
The common causes for this abnormal grooming behavior by your dog might be allergies, skin irritation, fear, and pain. For instance, orthopedic problems like hip dysplasia can be excruciating for your dog and cause him to bite his paw pads. Thus, it’s essential to treat the underlying health concerns. In this case, pain medication and joint support supplements temporarily relieve the painful symptoms causing your dog to chew his legs.
What environmental allergies can cause dogs to exhibit compulsive biting behavior?
Mold spores, dust mites, and pollen are typical environmental allergies leading to chewing on their skin and legs. Remember that this is not the only type of allergy to watch out for in a dog biting his skin. Food allergy is another common culprit.
In conclusion, dogs chewing on their paws or skin is a typical behavioral pattern for these furry clowns. Remember, they are pack animals with an innate need to groom themselves and others. However, it can become excessive, signaling an underlying health problem like fungal infection, skin irritations, parasites on the dog’s skin, allergies, etc.
If your dog is relentlessly licking or chewing their body parts, it’s important to get to the bottom of this compulsive behavior with your vet. Also, introducing toys might help redirect this unhealthy behavior before they put their skin at risk of infections or severe damage.