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Ralph is an absolute stickler for biting his nails / chewing his feet. When we first noticed it we thought something was wrong and we took him to the vets. We quickly found out he needed his nails trimming. Our first thoughts were that Ralph had anxiety or depression and used this as a way of soothing his problems. When humans bite their nails, this is often the case. They do it as a really bad habit or a way of getting through a challenging / difficult situation they don’t feel comfortable.
In Dogs, paw biting / licking can be a sign of a more serious physical illness. Assuming it is normal for your dog to bite their feet is what many dog owners do, but do not be fooled. Your dog could have, what is known as, an Inhalant Allergy. Similar to human hay fever, an inhalant allergy in your dog causes repetitive nail biting, scratching and itching mainly around the paws and nails. The itching becomes too much for your dog, so they bite and pull their nails. By doing this, your dog can then increase the chance of further infection due to the moisture in the saliva. Continually biting and pulling at the nails can become a more serious problem and you quickly need to stop your dog from doing it.
Inhalant Allergies generally occur in the spring / summer time (seasonal time) however, within dogs this can quickly become a non-seasonal allergy as well. If your dog does this daily then there may be further issues. Check for staining around your dog feet as this is caused by Saliva and is the biggest sign that your dog has an inhalant allergy.
As a human, if my hands and feet were constantly itching I would seek medical help. This should be the same for your dog. Contact your vet immediately when you see this happening as catching it early can be a positive sign. Things can be done to prevent itchy paws and you need to make sure you get the right help and treatment necessary.
Five Reasons Why Your Dog Bites his Nails
Like cats, dogs like to groom themselves and biting there nails is part of this grooming process. Broken nails and irritating nail clippings become a small problem for your dog and they tend to bite them off. When biting and licking becomes more than a grooming experience then something is seriously upsetting your dog and could be more serious.
Your dog could be biting or licking for many different reasons. Firstly check your dogs paws in case something is stuck and bothering them. It could be as simple as a stone or a bit of dirt they cant seem to shift. If it looks clean, then it could be one of these 5 reasons.
Why Does My Dog Bite His Nail: 5 Reasons Why
- Long Nails
Dogs, like humans, generally bit their nails if they are too long. Biting them off will make them feel comfortable. How can you test if the dogs nail need cutting? If your dog walks into a carpeted room or a laminated floor and you hear scratching, pulling or tapping, then it’s time to get them cut.
Walking your dog regularly on concrete helps break any loose bits of nails off and also keep them shorter. When your dog’s nails get quite long, your dog can start biting and chewing them.If your dog regularly chews then then this could be a more serious issue.
Trimming your dogs nails yourself is quite difficult but one that can be done with practice. If you do struggle, then take your dog to the groomers
- Broken Nails
Broken toe nails on dogs are difficult to see / find. If they break near the base of the nail, it can become irritable and uncomfortable for your dog as it’s still slightly attached to your dog’s skin. This can make your dog chew its feet even more. Don’t let your dog continue chewing, biting and / or licking as it may become infected and cause longer term problems.
- Outdoor Allergies
Pollen, food or grass are common allergies your dogs can pick up. They can make your dog itchy and cause chewing of their paws. These allergies do cause itchy paws and your dog to start chewing and licking their feet. Saliva from your dog can then cause further fungal infection or secondary bacteria’s making it doubly important to cure before it’s too late. If the infection re-occurs the it can become extremely serious and vet bills become more and more expensive. You should ensure you have a good doggie insurance.
Dogs are very sensitive creatures so much so they can easily become anxious. Separation anxiety or stress can have your dog chewing its nails to overcome this. Just like humans, it is used as a way of relieving any stress by distraction.
Keep your dog entertained and in a strict routine. Regular walks and trips to the park will also help keep your dog from being bored. A good walking routine with a regular long-distance walk will help you and your dog bond better.
Dogs will bite their nails for many reasons, boredom being one of them. To help ensure that your dog is not suffering with an allergy, take them for regular walks, play with them often and monitor the nail biting.
If high, constant, levels of nail biting continue after increasing the activities with your dog then seek vet advice.
How Can I Stop My Dog from Chewing His Paws?
There are many different reasons why a dog will chew its paws and you need to find the cause before seeking a remedy. Below are possible causes and treatments;
Dogs paws can puncture and a wound in the paw is definitely going to be the main cause of your dog chewing repeatedly. Although paws can heal quickly, once punctured they become very itchy and can drive your doggie a little bit mad and start chewing more.
If your dog continues to lick the wound this will delay the healing process so try your best to prevent any licking or biting. Also keep your eye out for any infection. If you notice an infection then head straight to your local vets and get it treated.
Sometimes nails or glass can get stuck in your dogs paws when they have been left lying around. Use a pair of tweezers to remove this quickly and carefully before infection. Long haired dogs, this can be more difficult as you would need to shave the fur first.
Dogs nails / claws are much more sensitive than human nails which makes breaking one a much more painful experience. Although it is quite uncommon for dog nails to break, it does happen.
Ralph recently caught his nail in the decking which led to him limping and bleeding from his claw. Apply pressure to help stop the bleeding and then a quick bathe in salty warm water helped stop the bleeding and prevent any infection. We took him to the vet to check on it and he had indeed broken his claw.
Several first aid tips need to be adhered too when your dog breaks its claw. Applying pressure like any wound to reduce and stop the bleeding. Bathing your dogs claw is also a good way of preventing any infection. Warm salty water is a good remedy for this although it may be uncomfortable at first for your dog.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE CLAW YOURSELF
There is a small bone and tiny nerve ending in your dog’s claw which makes trimming your dog’s nails difficult. If the claw is broken then you should leave it and seek advice from a vet to help remove the nail. Pulling it off could cause more problems than necessary. Cover the paw in a towel and protect it whilst you travel to a vet.
Objects Stuck Between Toes
When out walking your dog in parks or wooded areas, they can often get smalls stones or twigs/thorns stuck in between their toes. This can cause your dog to sit and chew or mess with their feet to try and remove the object.
Removing the item can be quite simple. First check what it is that is stuck there. You may be able to remove with some tweezers or scissors. Once you have identified what is stuck, you will then need plenty of time and patience to help remove it. Your dog will wriggle and feel uncomfortable
A great way of distracting your dog whilst you search and find the hidden object is by using a large wooden spoon smothered in Peanut Butter. Your dog will instantly be distracted with the great taste whilst you rummage through their toes.
Once you find the item, quickly and safely attempt to dislodge it and remove it. Sometimes it can get twisted in your dog’s fur. In this case, some scissors will come in hand in case you need to cut the fur to release any tangling objects easily without pulling the fur.