Why Dogs Chew Nails & Lick Their Paws

I Love Dogs post regular articles under the heading: Ask A Vet.

One that I suspect may be of interest to many a dog owner is entitled Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Chew Her Nails And/Or Lick Her Paws?.

It explains that a dog chewing their nails is usually a sign of physical illness, and that paw licking is not the same at nail biting and done in excess also indicates an illness.

Inhalant allergies, also known as Atopy (like hay fever for humans) are the number one cause of repeated paw licking, nail biting and itching of the skin, especially the feet and toes. Dogs then lick the feet and bite their nails because of the itching. The moisture and infection in the saliva then encourages a secondary bacterial or fungal infection on the feet. This can become a nail bed infection as well (which can be a treatment challenge). It is a vicious cycle that your dog needs help to break. Besides skin problems, other signs, such as a runny nose, itchy and watery eyes and other respiratory signs can occur.

Atopy may be seasonal or nonseasonal depending on the allergen, but most dogs with atopy will eventually develop nonseasonal signs. Most sufferers first develop signs from spring to fall because of environmental allergens. Abnormal nail biting is frequent, so if you notice that your dog licks his feet every single day, there might be a problem. Especially if the feet become stained brown on light colored dogs. Saliva staining is a big warning sign of inhalant allergies.

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