why does my dog chew on his paws and legs
My dog constantly chews on his feet and hind legs. What can I do? The problem may not be with his feet but with his nose! That is because the most common reason for dogs to chew their feet is due to allergy to things they inhale. The same pollens, dusts, and molds that give us Бhay feverБ symptoms will give dogs itchy skin Б typically chewing or biting of the feet, rubbing of the face and ears, and scratching in the armpits. Ear infections are another common manifestation of inhalant allergy. The scratching and itching can lead to skin infections with bacteria and/or yeast, which can make the itching worse. The first step is to see your regular veterinarian. She will do a thorough exam to check for fleas, other parasites, and infections, which may cause or result from the itching and chewing. Treatment of the allergy usually starts with antihistamines. These generally give good relief from the itching with minimal side effects (sometimes drowsiness). There are many antihistamines and your veterinarian may suggest a trial of more than one to find out which works best for your dog.
Symptomatic treatment of medicated baths, topical sprays or ointments, and oral fatty acid supplements will also help. If the allergy is severe and not relieved by antihistamines, corticosteroids may be used. They are usually very effective but may cause side effects, some of which can be serious. If the allergies are ongoing, severe, and/or not relieved by antihistamine, your veterinarian will refer you to a veterinary dermatologist for allergy testing. Based on the results of this skin testing, Бallergy shotsБ will be formulated for your dog to help reduce his sensitivity to the allergens that make him itchy. Most dogs get improvement from these Бallergy shotsБ and can use fewer and milder medications to control their allergy symptoms but, like us, cure is rare. With good communication between owner and veterinarian, we can help our pets get through their allergy season with less discomfort.
Presented by Kathleen Dougherty, DVM, Kenwood Animal Hospital, 301-654-3000.
Are you wondering why your dog is chewing his paws? YouБre not alone! There are a variety of reasons why dogs might chew their paws. LetБs look at the most common reasons, as well as the signs that might let you know itБs time to take your pup to the vet. Allergies Dogs, like people, have allergies, and allergies tend to be the number one cause of paw chewing. Ingredients in their food, environmental factors like pollen and mold, and seasonal changes can trigger a dogБs allergies. Your dog might also develop dermatitis, a skin condition, if she comes into contact with chemicals from soap, pesticides, or other items with harsh chemicals. Dry skin Does the winter weather dry out your skin? Or maybe you live in a dry climate without much humidity. Either way, weather can also cause your dogБs skin to dry out. He also might not be getting enough fatty acids, which aid in keeping his skin protected and moisturized.
If he has dry skin, he might try to soothe it by licking, scratching, or chewing. Anxiety or Depression When dogs are anxious or depressed, they tend to chew their paws or lick and scratch compulsively. Dogs may react that way due to common separation anxiety, or anxiety caused by lack of proper exercise. Dog who are ill, generally sad, or depressed will often lick their own paws obsessively. Pain If your dog is chewing his paws, you might want to check them to see if heБs hurt or injured. Since a dogБs paws are constantly in contact with the ground and floor, he can easily get a thorn, small rock, sticker, glass shard, burr, or splinter stuck in his foot. He also might have cut his foot when he was galavanting around outside. If your dog is injured, he will chew his paws to relieve the pain or remove the foreign object. Your dog might also be suffering from an orthopedic issue like arthritis or hip dysplasia, and his response is to chew or lick the area that hurts.
Parasites Parasites like ticks, fleas, and mites are another big cause of paw chewing in dogs, and your dogБs cure for a parasite infection is to chew it away. While you can usually see ticks, mites are microscopic, and fleas tend to go unnoticed until there are a bunch of them. So just because you canБt see the pesky culprits doesnБt mean your dog isnБt being attacked by a parasite. Check with your vet to determine if your dogБs chewing is being caused by a parasite if you canБt determine another cause. Remember, moderate paw chewing may be annoying, but itБs pretty normal. You should bring your dog to the vet, however, if the chewing gets out of hand or if you notice your dog developing Бhot spotsБ on his skin, bleeding, or loss of fur. A vet might have you change your dogБs diet, use a product to eliminate parasites, address anxiety issues, give your dog medication, or help you come up with another solution.
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