Lots of dog owners have observed their dog chewing on their feet and often wonder if this is something they should be concerned. Many times, dogs will gently lick their paws- but in some cases, you’ll find your dog chewing on his toes, which can be a serious concern.
Should You Worry?
The quick answer is “maybe”- this is something that you should discuss with your vet- especially if it is something that suddenly starts, lasts for extended periods, or is accompanied by bleeding, limping, odor, redness, or swelling- or other indications of infection/pain.
Sure, it is true that many dogs do chew on their feet now and then for reasons that are unclear- others will excessively chew on their feet. In these cases, their feet will begin to look pink/rusty in color. This discoloration is the result of constant contact with the porphyrin pigments found in a dog’s saliva.
Possible Causes for Licking/Chewing
There are several reasons why your dog may suddenly start licking/chewing his feet, including wounds to his toes or paw pads, a fractured toe/claw, corns, burns, or even foreign bodies such as ticks, burrs, and grass clippings caught between their toes.
In other cases, your dog may start chewing on his feet due to more severe conditions such as tumors, cancer, cysts, autoimmune diseases, and allergic skin diseases.
Causes for Chronic Licking/Chewing
The most common reason why a dog may lick/chew on his feet constantly could be an allergic skin disease. Food allergies are the typical suspect- and secondary infection from bacteria/yeast could further encourage the behavior.
Many times, dogs who engage in this behavior over extended periods of time will do so because it feels good. If this is the case, a vet may look to an underlying disease that could have initially started the behavior. For example, a dog will lick a granuloma, which is a wound that is the result of obsessive licking. They could have been drawn to start licking the area due to an itch, reaction to an allergen, or an injury.