Have you ever seen your pooch licking his paws or chewing his nails? I bet that you would think it similar to a person biting his nails. In general, nail biting in humans is often considered as a bad habit or a self-soothing act for anxiety. But in dogs, this behavior is not usual and means that something might be wrong with their health.
In some cases, many people assume that these nail biting and paw licking acts in dogs work as a part of cleaning and grooming themselves, but it is not actually the case. Usual paw licking is only occasional and could be often related to the feet being dirty or wet, while chronic nail biting is often a sign of allergy or fungal infection. In these cases, it is better to take your dog to the vet to determine the underlying cause.
Why does your dog keep biting his nails?
In general, there are many reasons why your dog keeps biting his nails. Below are some of these:
1. The nails are too long
The first and foremost reason of biting nails in dogs is due to the nails themselves. Simply, these parts are too long and make them annoying, so they just bite off some of these to make it more comfortable. When you allow your pup's nails to grow too long, he might be painful to walk or run. The nails could even curve in, which makes getting around more difficult and damaging the skin.
In this case, you need to take him to a groomer or do the trimming task yourself to make sure these nails are clipped neatly and properly. A lot of pet owners often take grooming or trimming nails for granted. And sometimes, they just forget about it.
2. The nails are broken
It is not always easy to notice broken nails in dogs. Sometimes their nails would break at the very tip, where these parts are still attached to the skin of your dogs. As a result, a break would make them feel annoying or even painful. Your furry friend might start biting and licking the out-of-order nails simply because that is the only way he can do in response to this pain. Sometimes, a broken nail may come off on its own, but do not wait until the situation resolves itself as it would pose a risk of infection. Therefore, if your find out this problem, immediately call your vet for proper treatment.
3. SLO - Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy
SLO or symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy is a condition that makes your dogs bite at their nails feverishly. During this situation, the immune system of your dog has had enough of the nails and produces a comprehensive attack against him. As a result, the nails would lift up from his quick or break in the base, and end up falling off. You will easily notice them begin to separate or fall off from the quick, but the onset stages are not so obvious.
Again, your dog does not know something is wrong with him and may usually bite at the nails in response to his discomfort. As scaring as this condition seems to be, it is not that common and you could control it with a bit of medication. A professional vet could diagnosed this disease and make a proper treatment plan for your dog.
Your dog might bite his nails due to a fungal or bacterial infection in the nail bed or an injury in the nails themselves. If left untreated, an exposed wound might result in infection and make your dog itchy or painful. In these cases, he will chew and lick his nails or paw incessantly to soothe.
To find out any infection in dog’s nails, you need to check if their nails are swollen, red or sensitive to touch. Some medications like antibiotic prescribed by a vet are probably the best way to prevent unwelcome fungi or bacteria from developing.
Allergies to pollen, grass, food, and other outdoor elements could also make your dog feel itchy. And chewing or biting on his nails is a common symptom. He might bit his nails to relieve or cope with the itchiness directly in his paw. In these cases, it is better to talk to your vet to find out what is the trigger of this allergic reaction in your dog.
Sometimes when your dog lacks interesting exercises or stimulations, which have a negative effect on his physical and mental health. Eventually, he might get bored easily and try to entertain himself by nail biting. Thus, it is important to stimulate his sense by doing exercises, walking, playing, or training. Or you could leave some interactive play toys such as a cone-shaped, non-toxic rubber product with organic, unsalted peanut butter and dog biscuits to make your dogs busy.
A couple of dogs are just anxious or neurotic. And a case of stress or separation anxiety about the surroundings would sometimes make them biting on the nails to soothe their nervousness. Along with destructive behaviors and defecating inside the house, this is a common sign of anxiety in dogs.
For example, something like a firework could get your dog so terrified that he might develop a compulsive act and fall back every time he is scared. Or in case of separation anxiety, your pup might chew his skin, feet, and nails instead of sleeping when you are gone. In these situations, you should leave him balls, ropes, or some treats to relieve his anxiety. Another good way to prevent this is counter conditioning, meaning that you will teach him how to embrace whatever he is scared through a positive reinforcement.
How to stop your dog from biting nails
As soon as you notice your dog biting his nails, it is important to stop this behavior. This is simply because he can have an easy access to the feet and damage himself by unrestrained biting. This is not likely to stop himself, but actually causes a dangerous cycle of annoyance, chewing, more annoyance, and more chewing.
The best method to stop a biting or chewing act is to treat the paws or nails of your dog as an open wound by applying an inflatable or e-color collar. Do not cover the paws of your dog because this would seal in moisture and usually make the issue worse. If you need to wrap his paws, remember to use a breathable material and keep it loose.
In addition, you also need to soak or wash the affected part and dry it really well by using a drying powder if necessary. Whenever you notice any sores on the nails, it is advisable to treat these with antibiotic creams.
Imagine that your hand and feet itching intensely. Maybe you might want someone to help. And the same holds true for a dog. If you see your pooch chewing or biting his nails or licking his feet frequently, it is necessary to find out the underlying reason and contact your vet for a better treatment plan. There are absolutely something that could be done to make the situation better for your dogs.
If you have any question or experience to share with us, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. Thank you a lot for reading.