Pet Wellness Guides > Why Do Dogs Bite Their Paws? - Pet Insurance Review

Why Do Dogs Bite Their Paws?

Posted: 06/16/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Behavior , Dog , Health problems

Your Do you sometimes notice your dog biting at his paws? In a majority of cases, a dog licking and biting his paws is completely normal behavior. Dogs will bite their paws to remove debris they’ve picked up on their walks and even sometimes out of boredom. There are, however, those cases when a dog biting his paws may point to a more serious underlying health condition. If you’ve wondered “why do dogs bite their paws,” be sure to read this entire blog post to learn why they do it and what you can do about it.

why do dogs bite their paws?

Common Reasons Why Dogs Bite Their Paws

As we mentioned, dogs will often lick and chew their paws as a way to groom themselves. Your dog’s paws pick up a lot of dirt and debris outside and if left in between their pads, it can begin to irritate them. Dogs will also lick and bite their paws when they have food residue or simply because they are bored and want something to mouth. 

Oftentimes there is nothing to worry about when you see your dog biting or licking his paws. However, should your dog bite or excessively lick his paws, it may point to something else going on:


One of the most common causes of dogs licking and biting their paws is a food or environmental allergen. Just like people, our dogs can have allergies that make their skin itchy. Itchiness may affect his paws, muzzle, ears and groin area. You may also notice your dog sneeze and have redness around his eyes. 

If you suspect your pup may have allergies, it’s important you bring them in to see the vet. vet can do a blood test that will show what foods your pup may be allergic to. If a food allergen is found to be the culprit, your vet will talk to you about switching to a special diet.

Unfortunately there are no blood tests that show environmental allergies and it’s fairly difficult to keep them 100% away from your pup. In these cases vets usually suggest a topical ointment, soaking the paws, oral antibiotics or anti-allergy medications to manage symptoms.

why do dogs bite their paws?

A Surface Injury

A dog biting his paw may also indicate he’s sustained some kind of injury. For instance, he may have stepped on a thorn on a recent walk, or have cut one of his pads on a stone or broken piece of glass. He might have torn a nail or even stepped on a bee or other insect that bit him. 

If your dog allows it, gently check the paw that seems to be bothering him. Do you see anything obvious? Go ahead and gently remove any thorns or small splinters you see. Small cuts will generally heal on their own but if you notice any major damage to the pads or nails it’s best to take your dog to the vet to get it checked. You don’t want to mess with an injury that could lead to an infection.

A Deeper Injury

Another common reason dogs bite and lick their paws is because they have some sort of deep injury like a sprained or strained muscle. Biting may also indicate they have pain due to a broken bone or possibly the development of arthritis. If the biting persists and your dog is also limping, bring him in to get checked. 


Just like people, our dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety. Your dog biting his paw is akin to someone biting their nails when they are feeling stressed or anxious. Your dog may show other signs of anxiety like whimpering and pacing back and forth. 

One of the biggest things that stresses dogs is being left alone. Separation anxiety affects many dogs, especially those that began life on the street. Luckily it can be managed with medications so your pup doesn’t have to suffer when you’re not home. If you notice him pace and whimper when you’re getting ready to leave, speak with your vet. After an evaluation, your vet may feel medication is a good option.

Key Takeaways

If you’re wondering “Why do dogs bite their paws” there are a variety of reasons:

  • They’re simply grooming
  • Licking off residual food
  • Out of boredom
  • They have a minor or major injury
  • They have allergies
  • Anxiety

In many of these cases, it’s reasonable to monitor your dog to see if the chewing or biting persists or eventually stops. However, there are a few different signs that indicate it’s time to take your dog in to see the vet:

  • If the paw biting is new or has been consistent for a number of days or weeks.
  • If you notice the paw or any of the pads are becoming inflamed (swollen). 
  • If your dog is showing other signs of anxiety such as whimpering and pacing.

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From minor injuries to major illnesses pet insurance supports pet parents by reimbursing them for a portion of their pet’s vet bills. Depending on the policy, you could have as much as 90% of your vet bill covered. That gives you peace of mind and lets you take the best care of your pup, without going into debt to do it.

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  1. “Why Does My Dog Lick Their Paws?”
  2. “Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws? Is This Normal?”
  3. “Why Do Dogs Lick and Bite Their Paws?”



The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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