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Is your dog a foot chewer?

Is your dog a foot licker/chewer? 

There are only two ways to respond to that question, either ‘nope, can’t relate’, or jumping up and down, hands-in-the-air with a resounding ‘YES!’. If you don’t understand why it’s so polarising – it’s probably because you don’t have a dog that chews or licks their feet. And what a blessing that is. For those of us who live with a dog who chews their feet – it’s relentless and constant. They’re irritated, preoccupied by their feet – and it’s very difficult to relax in the same room as a dog that is licking and chewing away all night long. 

So, what the heck is going on? 

Dogs can chew their feet for all sorts of reasons. But one thing all of those reasons have in common is that they are tricky to manage – and rarely something that we can cure.

  • Allergies
    By far the most common reason dogs have itchy feet is because they have allergies. It can be all four feet, or even just one foot. Look for other signs of itchy skin, even ear infections, for a clue that allergies may be the answer. 
  • Pododermatitis
    Some dogs have severe inflammation of their feet which can be caused by obesity, ingrown hairs, over-excited immune system, allergies, or – my personal favorite – a combination of them all.
  • Infection and Infestation
    Infected feet are rarely the cause of itchy toes, however, many itchy toes become infected from your dog’s chewing at compromised, inflamed skin. Infection can be bacteria, yeast, or – you got it – both. And of course, in some patients, we have to consider mites as a potential cause.
  • Compulsive Disorders
    I see many people resigned to accepting their dog’s itchy feet, chalking it up to a behavioural problem, similar to people biting their nails. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming minority of dogs that fall into this category.

What can you do about it?

Book an appointment – come in and see me!

This is a difficult condition to manage – and if you’re going to do it right, get a professional involved. Most dogs, at minimum, require some sort of pharmacological intervention – creams, sprays, shampoos, etc. However, ultimately the right approach will come down to identifying the cause of the itching, which includes diagnosing and treating any infection if we’re to stand a fighting chance. 

You can expect your vet will want to take a thorough history and ask lots of questions about your pet’s health and lifestyle. They will also be interested to take some samples of the feet and assess them under the microscope. Never fear, taking these samples are not painful for your pet but provide some critical info on how to take the first steps to more comfy toes.

Does your dog have itchy feet? We would love to hear about what you think makes their feet feel better.
Contact us with your stories!

Dr. Vicky Wade

Veterinarian