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My Dog Has Itchy Paws: 6 Reasons Why It Happens

Itchy paws are relatively common in dogs. The most common reasons that lead to itchy paws are foreign bodies, insect bites, allergies, boredom, stress, or skin infections. Symptoms besides itching include biting and chewing the paws, yelping, and limping. Contact the vet if your dog has one or more of these symptoms.

Seeing your dog chewing its paws constantly can be unpleasant if not annoying. If you hear your dog chewing its paws at night or if it chews them more than its toys, your dog probably has itchy paws.

Dogs experience itchy paws for many reasons. The most common are dermatitis or boredom.

Inspect your dog’s paws carefully if you see it licking them excessively. In some cases, they have something stuck to their paws, causing pain and discomfort.

In this article, you will learn why dogs have itchy paws, what you can do, and more.

Why Does My Dog Have Itchy Paws?

Itchiness in the paws is caused by boredom, allergies, skin infections, foreign bodies, stress, and insect bites. If it is not boredom or stress, contact your vet.

All dog owners have seen their four-legged friend excessively licking and chewing their paws, wondering where this behavior comes from.

If your dog does this, chances are it has itchy feet. You can figure this out by looking for the following symptoms:

  • Excessive licking and chewing of the paws
  • Local irritation and redness
  • Staining of the fur on the paws
  • Dried and cracked paws
  • Lameness
  • Cautiousness when putting the itchy paw on the ground
  • Bad odor coming from the paws

Itchy paws in dogs are something relatively common and have many causes:

  1. Boredom
  2. Stress
  3. Foreign body
  4. Allergies
  5. Skin infections
  6. Insect bites

1. Boredom

Why Does My Dog Have Itchy Paws - Boredom

When dogs are bored, they tend to chew and lick their paws.[1] This can make owners think their pets are suffering from itchy paws when they simply have nothing to do.

Pay attention to whether your dog chews one paw or switches between its feet. It could be a sign your dog is doing it out of boredom. 

Pay attention to other symptoms, such as chewing other things, pacing, or overexcitement.[2]

2. Stress

Why Does My Dog Have Itchy Paws - Stress

Stressed and anxious dogs lick their paws. They find some relief and peace doing this. Other symptoms of stress include:[3]

  • Biting their skin and chewing their paws
  • House soiling
  • Vocalizations
  • Hypersalivation
  • Panting
  • Shaking

If your dog is stressed, it’s important to find the source to eliminate it. You can also help your dog by distracting it:

  • Give your dog toys to play with
  • Take it for a walk
  • Teach it new tricks
  • Use food puzzles

If you don’t find the source or succeed in distracting your dog, go to the vet as there are medical treatments that can help it.

3. Foreign Body

Why Does My Dog Have Itchy Paws - Foreign Body

When dogs walk a lot, foreign objects can pinch their paws:

  • Shards of glass
  • Splinters
  • Thorns
  • Awns

These foreign bodies dig into the tissue and cause pain, itching, discomfort, and more:[4]

  • Excessive licking
  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Lameness
  • Severe infections with pus
  • Bleeding

If the symptoms appear suddenly, inspect your dog’s paws carefully.

It’s best to let the veterinarian remove any objects, as you may risk making the situation worse. 

4. Allergies

Flea Bite Pet Allergies

Dogs often start itching when suffering allergic reactions. There are two types of allergies that can cause itchy paws:

  • Contact allergies
  • Food allergies

Allergies, in general, are manifested through the following symptoms:

  • Dogs chew and lick their paws excessively.
  • They have inflamed and irritated skin.
  • Their hair falls out.
  • They rub the itchy parts of their bodies against the carpet and other objects.
  • They develop ear infections.

Contact Allergies

Contact allergy is an allergy that triggers when dogs come into contact with allergens:

  • Pollen
  • Grass
  • Irritating plants
  • Mold
  • Dirt
  • Other environmental substances

Allergic dogs often chew their paws until they become irritated and red.

Food Allergies

Dogs can suffer from food allergies or intolerance to some components of dog food.[5] Food allergies in dogs usually cause digestive disorders such as vomiting and diarrhea. In more severe cases, skin issues and behavioral problems can occur.

Some dogs are more prone to food allergies than others:

  • Bichon
  • Pekingese
  • Golden retriever
  • Labrador
  • Bulldog
  • German shepherd
  • Cocker Spaniel

Some foods are also more likely to cause allergies than others:

  • Meat proteins: chicken, beef, fish, rabbit, pork
  • Certain substances in dog food seasonings and additives
  • Gluten from cereals

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:

  • Itchy skin, paws, or ears
  • Intense scratching, biting, and chewing
  • Hair loss
  • Redness of the skin
  • Skin rash in some cases
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of interest in doing various activities

Treatment for food allergies in dogs includes identifying the food to which the dog is allergic and avoiding feeding it that food. 

It is best to talk to your veterinarian to discover the ingredient your dog is allergic to.

5. Skin Infections

Why Does My Dog Have Itchy Paws - Skin Infections

Skin infections on the feet are called pododermatitis. It can be fungal or bacterial.

Pododermatitis lesions appear at different places on the paws:

  • Toes
  • Interdigital spaces
  • Paw pads
  • Nail beds

The infection can affect one or more feet and other areas of the body. 

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Itchy paws
  • Excessive licking and chewing
  • Hair loss
  • Skin erosions
  • Ulcers
  • Lumps
  • Fistulas
  • Weakness

Since pododermatitis can have multiple causes, it is important to talk to your veterinarian to identify the primary cause:

  • Traumas
  • Foreign bodies
  • Insect bites
  • Excessive licking due to boredom, anxiety, or stress
  • Burns or frostbite
  • Internal diseases
  • Tumors
  • Allergies

6. Insect Bites

Why Does My Dog Have Itchy Paws - Insect Bites

Insect bites themselves generally don’t cause itchiness, but the saliva can trigger an allergic reaction. This results in itchy paws and other symptoms:

  • Redness and inflammation
  • Red, raised bumps
  • Red spots
  • Itching
  • Scratching
  • Excessive biting and licking of the paws

If your dog scratches intensely for a long time, secondary infections can occur.

Ticks can also attach to the skin between dogs’ toes. Tick bites do not usually cause itching but general discomfort. Dogs will bite and lick their paws excessively to remove the ticks. 

Check your dog’s body for ticks, including between the toes, after you return from a walk.

Insect bites generally resolve on their own within two days. Contact your veterinarian if the area becomes infected.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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