If you’ve seen that your puppy is often biting his paws, you will naturally want to know if there’s any cause for concern. Is it normal behavior in puppies? How do you get him to stop if he does it too much? And what can you do if his paws are very sore? Here’s everything you’ll need to know.
So, why does my puppy bite his paws? Young puppies often bite their paws due to boredom, habit, or anxiety. Other common reasons include hormonal problems, pain, cold weather, dry skin, or skin irritation from parasites or allergies. Long-term paw biting can lead to health problems if it isn’t treated or addressed. However, moderate paw-chewing is normal in most puppies/dogs.
Do You Want To Learn How To Stop Your Puppy Biting, For Good?
Get my instantly downloadable eBook and learn the two most effective techniques that I have learned from dog trainers and behavioral specialists and that I have personally used to teach 4 puppies to stop biting.
Perhaps not as definitive as you would have liked.
But the truth is, it’s one of those behaviors that can be difficult to pinpoint the underlying cause.
It can be done, but it does take a little time and observation.
Let us now delve deeper into the reasons for this self-destructive behavior in puppies and some appropriate responses to rectify the issue!
Reasons Why Puppies Bite Their Paws
There are several reasons why puppies may bite their paws.
Dogs can experience dry skin just like we do, especially in arid climates or during the winter months.
If your puppy is biting his paws, he may be trying to relieve the itchiness with his saliva.
Like us, dogs can become allergic to chemicals in the home, cleaning products, or certain foods. Some dogs develop seasonal allergies to molds or pollens.
Whatever the cause of the allergy, your puppy can suffer from skin irritation in various parts of his body as a result.
Sometimes you won’t be able to know if your puppy is injured. He could have a fractured toe or claw or a punctured or injured toe pad.
If you’ve noticed your puppy biting his paws excessively after an active outdoor session or after having explored new terrain, he could have gotten hurt.
It could be your puppy has picked up some parasites such as fleas, mites, or ticks.
He may be trying to chew them out of his paws, but parasites are stubborn little critters.
Ticks are easy to spot, but mites and fleas are harder to see unless your puppy has a severe infestation.
Loneliness Or Stress
Puppies will groom themselves too frequently if they are:
A puppy may be licking his paws because he is experiencing emotions that are too intense.
Or perhaps he isn’t getting enough stimulation (mental or physical), affection, or playtime.
Is It Normal for Puppies To Bite Their Paws?
A bit of paw chewing is normal in puppies, even though you may find it worrisome, or even perhaps irritating. Puppies will naturally investigate new objects and surroundings with their mouths.
In addition, puppies will chew or bite on anything during their teething phase.
This is the time when they’re losing their baby teeth, and their adult teeth are coming in.
Fortunately, this phase tends to end naturally by the time they’re about six months old.
The only time for you to be concerned is if your puppy:
- Seems to be chewing his feet often
- Has developed ‘hot spots’ on his skin
- Has a loss of fur
- Has blood on his paws
While there aren’t any particular dog breeds who tend to bite their paws more than others, some dog breeds will use their paws more:
- Muscular dogs, like Boxers
- Hunting dogs, like Spaniels
- Pointer dogs, like English Setters or English Pointers
- Service dogs, like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors
Should You Stop Your Puppy From Biting Its Paws?
You won’t need to stop your puppy from biting his paws most of the time. Biting his feet is normal behavior when he’s licking or chewing them to clean them. Some dogs clean their paws to then clean their heads, though this is more standard behavior in cats.
Sometimes your puppy might be licking or chewing his paws often, even when he doesn’t appear to be dirty.
If this is the situation, you will need to start looking into why he’s doing it so that you can do your best to stop it.
You will definitely need to stop your puppy chewing on his paws if you notice:
Your puppy could develop open wounds or sores with excessive paw biting.
If the wounds are constantly irritated and prevented from healing, he could develop a secondary infection.
Your vet can help you by taking skin scrapings to check for an infection, which can then be treated with medication.
A good vet will also recommend other ways to stop your puppy from chewing his paws (see below).
How To Get Your Puppy To Stop Biting His Paws
There are a few ways to get your puppy to stop biting his paws, depending on the reason he’s doing it.
If Your Puppy Has An Allergy
If you suspect an allergic reaction is the cause of your puppy’s discomfort, you’ll want to speak to your vet to see which substance or food is the culprit.
Some dogs develop allergic reactions to food proteins such as:
It can be difficult, if not impossible, to figure out for yourself what your puppy is allergic to.
The only thing you’ll know for sure is that he has had exposure to something giving him problems.
Speak to your vet and see about testing and what nutritional changes you can make to your puppy’s diet to try to get to the root of the problem.
Certain dietary changes and hypoallergenic dog foods can help prevent skin irritation.
If Your Puppy Has Been Injured
If you suspect your puppy has injured his paw pads or claws, look for any visible signs of injury. Pay attention to any possible splinters or burrs.
Check for cuts or tears to his paw pads: these can be tiny.
If you can’t find anything – or if you found something that you can’t remove yourself safely – you’ll have to bring your pup to the vet.
Your puppy’s paw will be unlikely to heal itself with these types of problems. Excessive licking or biting, while instinctual, can only make some problems worse.
If Your Puppy Has Parasites
If ticks, fleas, or mites are the problem, speak to your vet for the best treatment.
Severe infestations often require a vet visit – sooner rather than later to prevent other health problems that might otherwise arise.
Make sure you are providing regular flea and tick prevention for your puppy.
If Your Puppy Is Upset
If psychological distress is the cause of your puppy chewing his paws, you will need to address this immediately.
Here are some practical things you can do:
- Observe when your puppy engages in this behavior. What just happened? What else is going on at home?
- Give him more company and affection. If your puppy is often alone, consider getting a dog walker, a dog sitter, or another family member who can come and spend time with him each day.
- Give him more exercise. Is your puppy getting enough exercise? Try providing more exercise and see if this makes a difference.
- Provide more playtime. Does your puppy have someone who plays with him every day? For how long? It could be he needs more attention than he’s currently getting.
- Ensure your puppy has doggie friends. Some dogs need the regular company of other dogs in addition to time spent with human beings. Take your puppy to a dog park, enroll him in puppy classes, or consider doggie sports or agility training where other dogs are present.
How To Treat Your Puppy’s Bitten Paws
There are several safe ways to soothe bitten or inflamed paws, depending on the cause.
Skin Balms and Oils
If your puppy’s paws are dry or itchy from the weather, you could try a skin balm: make sure the one you select has been specially formulated for animal use.
A side benefit of using skin balms or oils is that you may notice your dog’s skin and coat becoming more supple and soft.
Another reason for dry paws is a lack of fatty acids in your puppy’s diet.
To address this, you can add a dash of fish oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or olive oil to your puppy’s food. You’ll only need to add your chosen oil a few times a week.
You can trim the hairs between your puppy’s toes to help get to the skin more easily. Excess hair between the toes will retain bacteria too.
A Comfy Bed
Puppies (and adult dogs) don’t know how much they move, so it’s up to you to try to keep your dog’s walking to a minimum if his paws are injured or very sore.
If your puppy is crate-trained, he can rest there.
Otherwise, make his bed extra comfortable with soft toys and blankets, tasty treats, and your comforting presence next to him!
A Paw Soak
Soaking your puppy’s paws using a footbath is a gentle way to clean and soothe his paws efficiently.
There are plenty of home remedies on the internet for itchy canines.
One of the safest and easiest recipes is to dissolve 1 cup of Epsom salts per gallon of warm water. Soak your puppy’s paws for about 10 minutes.
Epsom salts will raise your puppy’s natural pH level and help rid his paws of allergens and irritants in the process.
Puppies do tend to bite their paws and many other areas of their body. Like their tails for instance.
In fact, even older dogs engage in this behavior too!
And while it is more common than you might have initially thought, it is not always a cause for concern.
But it certainly can be.
That’s why it’s imperative that you keep an eye on your pup.
Look for trends.
See when, why, how often, and what impact the biting has.
Only then will you be able to get a better understanding of the underlying cause, and take measures in response.
But if you are in doubt, or your pup’s paws look particularly torn up, contact a vet.
That’s the safest approach to take.
Have other questions about puppy biting or other related behavior? Well, my following guides may be of help:
- Why Does My Puppy Bite His Tail?
- Why Does My Puppy Lunge At My Face?
- Why Does My Puppy Bite Me When I Pet Him?
- Why Does My Puppy Growl When I Pick Him Up?
- Why Does My Puppy Bite My Ears?
- Why Does My Puppy Have Hiccups?
- Why Does My Puppy Pee In Her Sleep?
- Why Does My Puppy Lick My Feet?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.