Why is my dog chewing and biting his feet? You’re in bed about to doze off to sleep. Then Tiger starts licking his feet. The sound snaps your eyes open. Then the chewing and snorting start and you’re scolding your baby to stop and let you sleep. Chewing can be more than annoying and if the cause isn’t found can lead to pain and infection. Why is he doing this?
We get asked this a lot. We see a lot of chewed feet and keep several clients dogs that aren’t poodles in “poodle feet” to help with this issue. Let’s talk about causes and solutions. Sometimes it’s as simple as boredom. It can be a behavioral issue or Canine compulsive disorder (CCD). Stress can also be a cause and so can allergies. It’s important to intervene for your pet as they can do damage to their feet if not stopped.
Pets can suffer from different allergies just like we can. They can have seasonal allergies with the weather change as well as food allergies. A full list of what your dog is allergic to can accessed with blood work from your vet.
The first allergen we look at is food. Approximately 10% of all canine allergies are related to food and could be the reason your dog scratches and itches themselves. Most food allergies are genetic. The more exposure a dog gets to the trigger of the allergen, the more likely the allergy will flare up. The most common food allergies include dairy, beef, wheat, chicken, egg, lamb, pork, soy, fish, and rabbit, not necessarily in this order. Many dogs can be allergic to more than one food type. Dogs can become allergic due to many factors. The first being heredity, the environment, exposure to antibiotics which can cause intestinal changes inside their gut.
I didn’t know until researching for this article that food allergies can cause all sorts of problems not just chewing. Some symptoms include chronic recurrent ear inflammations, itchiness, skin problems, stomach problems, gas, itchy rear, licking their feet, and yeast infections. Itchy skin on their feet, face, ears, and legs is a prevalent symptom of food allergies. If you notice hair loss, hot spots or skin infections that respond to antibiotics but come back after the antibiotics are stopped, then you are probably dealing with a food allergy.
The best way to determine if your pet has food allergies is with an elimination diet. To achieve success with an elimination diet:
• Feed the special food exclusively, with absolutely no other treats, foods, or flavorings allowed.
• Let everyone know your dog is on a special diet, so they don’t accidentally give them something off their diet.
• Any treats given should be made of the same ingredients in this special diet
• All pets in the household need to be given the same food
You will know if this is a seasonal problem if it only happens at certain times of the year.
As for environmental issues: we had a Shih Tzu once have a terrible problem. We took him to a vet in Mobile that went through a whole list of issues that it could be. After spending $1400 in a month, we decided to try another vet, so we went to John Slaughter ( I know a terrible name for a vet). We lived by his clinic at that time. So we walk in, and he says what are you mopping the floors with now that you weren’t two months ago? We had just started using Oder Ban, and Lil Man was allergic to the ingredients. Round of steroids and a clean wet mop with no chemicals and in a week he was better. If this is a new issue what have you changed?
Next, let’s talk about nails. If Tiger is on good quality food, his nails are going to grow faster than the dog on cheap food, but both dogs need regular nail trims. The nails can curve and become embedded into the pads. Tiger will lick and chew on his feet to try to free the nail from the pads. When we cut it out there can be a hole in the foot and infection.
Dogs that have hair on the pads of their feet need those pads checked and cleaned. Certain breeds require that hair to be removed and if it’s not and grows, it mats up in between the pads. Think about your hair and how bad it hurts if it’s tangled. Well imagine that but on the bottom of your feet. Rocks and debris can get stuck in there too.
Once you have ruled out any medical issues, then you can look at behavioral problems. If they are bored, give them more to do. My little Shih Tzu will play fetch, loves playing outside and squeaking her toys and then howling at them for hurting her ears!!
Dogs can suffer from separation anxiety also. You will have to work with your vet or a professional trainer for help with this issue. I have never had one to chew their feet from separation but have had one destroy a sofa!!
Discover the cause
Work on behavioral
Change the diet!
Credits to K-9 magazine, and The Spruce Pets.
I hope this article was helpful. As with all our articles, these are professional opinions only, and you should check with your vet. If you have a topic you would like us to discuss, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (251) 458-8226 or send a message on Facebook to The Kuddles n Kisses Connection!!