“Chewing and licking can disrupt the normal skin barrier and the normal skin defenses,” Dr. Pachel says. Dampness from saliva can lead to yeast and bacterial infections, particularly for dogs with thick fur that retains moisture. And repeated friction from a rough tongue can rub off fur and cause acute moist dermatitis (hot spots) and lick granulomas (skin lesions).
Inappropriate chewing is a fairly common problem in young dogs and stems from the fact that puppies use their mouths as a means of exploring the world around them. Chewing is a normal behavior for puppies but becomes undesirable behavior when it is directed towards inappropriate objects such as your shoes, furniture, or even your hands and feet. If inappropriate chewing is not corrected then it can lead to wide scale destruction of personal property, medical problems and erosion of the human-animal bond.
Thank you for your question. Environmental allergies are a very common cause for dogs chewing at their feet, as are bacterial and fungal infections. There are very good anti-histamine and allergy medication available for dogs that does provide relief from these signs. It might be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about trying some of these medications.
Many dog owners swear by these chews, which can be stuffed into certain interactive toys and provide hours of chewing distraction (though some dogs will polish one off in mere minutes!). Bully sticks may be OK chew treats for your dog, it just depends on how many you give, your dog’s chews-onality, and how sterile the sticks are. Bully sticks contain a lot of calories, so don’t give too many; they can also harbor some pretty nasty bacteria, which is covered in this article in the Canadian Veterinary Journal. And they have been known to cause tooth fractures and digestive upset. (Lastly, in case you didn’t know, bully sticks are just processed bull penises … so you might not want to let your dog chew them on your bed.)
The truth is, although some chews are better than others, it’s important to know the potential problems associated with each type of dog chew or toy. Even if you’ve never had an issue, and have friends who say the same, many vets and other dog lovers have seen these problems first-hand. The following breakdown is not meant to scare you. Instead, we hope you will keep these warnings in mind so your dog can enjoy their chewing, and do so safely.
Do your best to supervise your dog during all waking hours until you feel confident that his chewing behavior is under control. If you see him licking or chewing an item he shouldn’t, say “Uh-oh,” remove the item from your dog’s mouth, and insert something that he CAN chew. Then praise him happily. If you suspect that your dog might react aggressively if you remove an item from his mouth, please see our Finding Professional Behavior Help article for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or Associate CAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with specialized training in treating aggression for guidance.
Always praise your dog when she comes to you, whether you called or not. That teaches her that coming to you is good. Say "come" or "here." She may not understand what you want if you just call her name. If she doesn't come, don't chase her. Call her again while you move away. That might make her come after you. If she still doesn't show up, tell her to sit, and go get her.
Excellent results have been obtained by using the following exercise to re-orient the dog’s chewing habits. Take away all of the dog’s former chewies, and replace them with a meat-scented nylon bone (NylaboneTM is one such toy). Make this bone the focus of a fetch and play session at least twice a day. The combination of the owner’s scent with the meat scent makes it an appealing object on which to chew. Since the toy bone has now become the focus of intense interaction between the dog and the owner, the vast majority of dogs will aim their chewing at it.
This psychological approach will tell your dog what not to chew on while offering alternate options. It works because it is a positive way to handle the issue, and dogs seem to learn better this way. Next time your dog goes for his favorite table leg, catch him in the act and startle him by saying “Aaah-aahh!” clapping your hands. Immediately, right after, toss him a chew toy. Once he chews it tell him “Good boy” in a praising matter.
3. Encourage appropriate chewing. Provide appropriate chew toys for your dog to enjoy. Each dog will have their own personal preference as to what they prefer to chew and play with. Be careful with rawhide and beef bones as determined chewers can whittle them down to smaller pieces that can be swallowed. They can end up becoming lodged in the esophagus or small intestine so supervision is recommended when giving these treats and be sure to take away any small pieces that might be swallowed. Avoid chicken bones since they splinter easily creating sharp fragments that can easily puncture your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. I prefer nylabones, greenies and dental chewsticks since they encourage appropriate chewing while combating dental disease. Dog toys such as balls and kongs may appeal to your dog, just be sure to select a size that is appropriate for your dog. They should be able to pick it up and carry it but it should be of sufficient bulk that it cannot be swallowed. If you buy your dog a kong type toy check, make sure the hole in the toy is not so big that the dog can get his lower jaw stuck in it.I have seen several emergency cases where a dog comes in with a toy stuck in his mouth. Do not give toys that resemble inappropriate items; for example do not give your dog an old shoe to chew on because he will not know the difference between the old chew shoe and a brand new pair.
The physical causes may need addressed by your vet. Your dog may need a dental cleaning or have a gum issue. The psychological causes may need addressed by a behaviorist if the above remedies do not seem to work. A dog behaviorist may help you learn tecniques to better train your dog and may recommend some medications. Do not try to address behavior issues on your own. For instance, if you tell an anxious dog to stop chewing furniture it may start chewing it’s own paws or chasing its tail instead.
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If you find your dog is bloodying his paws or otherwise hurting himself trying to escape the crate, another course of action needs to be taken. For cases of severe separation anxiety, an applied animal behavior or other behavior consultant should be employed. This serious problem will need an individualized behavior modification program and possibly drug therapy to be resolved.
My dog chews and licks at her paws constantly. They are turning red in between each of her paws. She’s been shaking her head continuously even after we recently took her to the vet and got treated for an “ear infection”. She goes through phases where she sneezes nonstop. I dont know what’s wrong and I looked it up her symptoms and it appears it may be a problem due to foxtails getting lodged into her body. I don’t know what to do, surgery is going to be expensive but I hate seeing her suffer.
Many times licking of the paws is caused by either food allergies (most common) or due to environmental allergies (grass for example); you should bathe the legs regularly and place a cone on Memphis is prevent any further licking - the saliva from licking also irritates the skin which causes more licking. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to rule out other causes (parasites, infections etc…). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
The “Collar Grab Game” teaches your puppy that he gets rewarded for staying calm when being touched. If at any time during the game he gets excited and mouths your hand, stand up for a minute, then start again. Ask your puppy to sit in front of you and give him a treat for sitting. Then begin to reach your hand towards his collar — but not all the way. Move your hand back, then give him a treat. Repeat this a few times and watch to see what your puppy is doing. Is he turning to bite your hand, or is focusing on the food and sitting? Keep practicing over a few days until you can reach forward and hold his collar or pet his head without him turning his head to mouth. Be sure to practice this with both hands.
Some puppies and juvenile dogs like to chew dirty underwear. This problem is most easily resolved by always putting dirty underwear in a closed hamper. Likewise, some puppies and dogs like to raid the garbage and chew up discarded sanitary napkins and tampons. This can be very dangerous. If a dog eats a sanitary item, it can expand while moving through his digestive system. Discard napkins and tampons in a container that’s inaccessible to your dog. Most young dogs grow out of these behaviors as they mature.