Paw biting is actually pretty common in dogs and puppies. But, not only can it make their feet sore, it can also make quite a horrible noise as they bite and gnaw away at their paws.  You’ve probably arrived at this article wondering why dogs might chew or bite on their feet, well we’re to help.

Keep reading and we’ll give you the lowdown on why dogs bite their paws, and why puppies might chew their paws too. We’ll also give you tips on how to stop your dog from biting their paws, and whether you should be worried about your dog biting their paws.


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king charles spaniel lying down
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Why do dogs bite their paws?

Dogs often bite their feet when they’re sore, bored, or for stress relief. They frequently bite their paws as a form of self-soothing when they are in pain or uncomfortable somewhere else. Dogs will also bite their paws due to allergies if they need a clean or their nails trimmed.

To clean their paws

When dogs kick up grass and dirt, or even just go out on a pavement walk, they get all kinds of dirt, mud or poo (!!) under their nails which can be uncomfortable. So licking, and biting at their paws is just their way of cleaning themselves up, and a normal part of their self-grooming routine.

Their paws might be sore

Dogs can often get into a cycle of having a sore paw, then licking and chewing at the paw to make themselves feel better, so the paw becomes sorer and then they bite and chew their paw-some more and so on and so on!

Dry or damaged skin on the paws

Dogs can get dry skin on their paws, which can become itchy and make them want to bite them. Depending on the amount of exercise and the surfaces they walk on, their paws can become sore and cracked, so need some TLC.

To cut down their claws

Yes, some dogs bite their nails when they get too long! Long claws can cause pain or discomfort, so your dog might chew their paws to trim their nails down.

Pain somewhere else

Paw chewing and biting can be a sign that your dog is in pain somewhere else. Did you know dogs with anal gland problems frequently chew and lick their paws? Yep it just feels good to chew your feet if you’re sore elsewhere.

Paw biting as a displacement behaviour

Paw chewing and biting is a bit like when we bite our nails, or fiddle with our hair when nervous. Dogs also do this much the same way when they bite their paws.

Allergies

Food and environmental allergies often have an impact on the skin, their paws become itchy so they bite on them. This is a common reason that dogs bite at their paws.

Infections in their skin or paws

Paw infections can be caused by yeast, bacteria or parasites, and will cause a dog to bite or chew at their paws.

Stress, boredom or anxiety

Overgrooming where a dog licks their paws until they’re sore, is often seen when a dog is stressed, feeling anxious or is bored. You might also see your dog yawning a lot to show they’re stressed.

puppy sleeping in blanket
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Why do puppies bite their paws?

Puppies and dogs bite their paws for several reasons, pain, boredom, allergies and infections. Puppies also bite their paws when teething and feel anxious at being left alone.

Paw biting in teething puppies

When puppies’ are teething, their teeth and gums hurt so they’ll often use paw chewing to take their mind off it, or to relieve the pressure and sore sensations that teething brings. Make sure they have plenty of soothing chew toys to bite on instead.

Paw biting when struggling to be left alone

Puppies don’t come to us programmed to want to be left alone, in fact, every bit of them wants to be with us as a survival mechanism. If your puppy only bites their feet when left alone, this can indicate that they’re stressed or bored.


Read our full guide to how long you can leave a puppy alone and dog separation anxiety tips to learn more.

Environmental allergies

Puppies can be more sensitive to environmental allergies, so different washing powders, plug-in diffusers or air fresheners can all make a puppy bite at their paws.

How do I stop my dog from biting their paws?

To stop your dog or puppy from biting their paws follow our easy tips

  1. Make sure you clean and dry your dog’s paws after walks, this will ensure there is no debris or dirt left on the paw, and no foreign bodies like grass seeds being stuck in between their toes.
  2. Use a paw wax after cleaning their paws to help their paws stay nourished and not too dried out.
  3. Trim their nails so that they don’t feel the need to do it themselves.
  4. Give plenty of recreational chews, interactive games and puzzle toys to avoid boredom and lower stress.
  5. Feed a diet that’s complete and suitable for your puppy or dog’s age and weight.
  6. Check their paws over for any soreness, redness, cuts or bites.
  7. Film your dog when you go out to see what else their body language might be telling you about how they feel at being left, to rule out separation anxiety.
  8. Do an audit of what cleaning products you use and remove air fresheners, and strong scents.

Redirect them if they start paw licking to take their mind off of it, play some games, get some new toys, or give them a Kong to break the habit of paw chewing.

corgi licking lips
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

When should I be worried that my puppy is biting their paws?

Biting and licking paws and self-grooming is something that all dogs will do, so it is a normal part of puppy behaviour. 

If you’re worried, then it’s a good idea to keep a diary of when the paw biting occurs, as well as what your dog is doing that day, and what they eat to see if there are any triggers that might be causing it. Routines can help you understand the root cause of the paw biting.

If the paw chewing has come on suddenly or your puppy is biting their paws and they’re making them sore and red then you should book in to see your Vet so that they can check them over and carry out necessary tests.

So, why do puppies and dogs bite their paws? Well, often it’s just a regular part of them taking care of themselves and nothing to worry about, but sometimes it can be caused by pain, allergies or stress. Like with any aspect of dog behaviour, if it’s out of the ordinary, has come on suddenly or your dog is injuring themselves then it’s time to contact your Vet and book a consultation. 

Is your dog licking you a lot? Read our guides to why does my dog lick my hands, and why does my dog lick my face to learn why! Or maybe you’re over the dog slobber already, and would just like to learn how to make your own homemade dog treats?


Download the Zigzag training app today and get access to your personalised puppy training programme. Have a chat with our puppy coaches too, they’d love to hear about your puppy and help answer any of your queries.