Why Does My Dog Chew Himself?

Catherine Forman

Lick, lick, lick. Nibble nibble. In my house, we start the day with a vigorous leg-chewing session.

Excessive chewing can be a sign of skin allergies, or a reaction to insect bites. Keeping your dog on a monthly flea and tick medication like Frontline can help reduce bite problems! If your dog has other allergies (seasonal or food), the paws may be the first place they start to itch. If your dog is chewing himself nonstop, especially if he has chewed his skin open, call your vet and schedule an appointment. A cortisone shot may give him the relief he needs. Your dog may also need a prescription antihistamine or a conditioning shampoo to help keep the itchies at bay.

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However, some dogs lick and chew for no medical reason at all. Compulsive leg licking is frequently seen in Labradors and German Shepherds.

When your dog is lying in what's called the "Sphinx" position, on his belly, body in a line, front paws stretched forward, the foreleg is in perfect position for some recreational licking. Dogs learn licking as comfort behavior when they are puppies being cleaned off after birth by their mother.

Licking or nibbling isn't bad, unless it becomes an obsession. A dog may lick his fur away! All that licking will cause the skin tissue to thicken, and eventually crack. Your dog risks infection if he licks himself open like this. Veterinarians compare it to obsessive compulsive disorder in humans. The dog is licking to satisfy a psychological need, rather than ease a physical problem.

Some over-the-counter remedies, like bitter apple spray, may deter your dog from licking the affected area. Then again, if he's determined, he'll just keep on licking. Your vet may prescribe medicine like what treats OCD in humans to give the skin time to heal. If treatment stops before the area is fully healed, your dog will most likely start the licking cycle all over again.

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May 16, 20060 found this helpful

Hi, It could be allergies, either contact allergies or food allergies. Loretta

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May 16, 20060 found this helpful

Hi, First, see that he has Frontline for fleas and ticks. My dog chewed herself and had like dandruff. We thought it could be an allergy to fleas etc. Anyway she had been taking predisone for a long time for her skin condition. We ran out of the prescription and I saw Emu Oil on SitStay.com and ordered it. I rubbed it all over the dog and left it on for a day or so. Then I gave her a bath and ran over her with a flea comb. Now her coat is healthy and she has not chewed for ages.It is worth a try.

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July 22, 20080 found this helpful

Ok my dog is chewing himself non-stop! He is losing hair and our vet told us to just give him like benadryl. That did nothing and she just said to leave it. We tried omega 3 and lotion for dogs what else is there he is bleeding everyday what do I do?!

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

Calm Coat by Last Chance Ranch is an all natural itch stopping cream. It is made of three ingredients: Lavender oil, Chamomile oil and tea tree oil. It works great and has no chemicals or harsh ingredients!

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

Often, a pet's excessive licking is due to food allergies; usually wheat and corn products in their food. Read your dog's food labels carefully. Buy the best food you can with good protein count, and with no fillers, such as wheat and corn, etc. Also, lamb and chicken are less likely to produce allergies than beef and pork foods.

Excessive licking could be flea infestation, could be an over production of skin mites, could be stress brought on by too little exercise, or a way of communicating boredom.

If your vet is telling you it's "nothing" get a new vet. It's something. A methodical process of ellimination will eventually show you what that "something" is.

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February 9, 20090 found this helpful

He pulls and chews the hair on his paws.

deayar45 @ sbcglobal.net

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June 29, 20120 found this helpful

Food needs changed. NO Grocery aisle food. Nothing with corn wheat or soy. I suggest a decent, but not perfect, Diamond lamb and rice from the co op, farm supply type store. Some raw is very good. Even most fruits and veggies. Please google. cook lentils, brown rice and ground turkey or fish with a little sweet butter, coconut oil or good fat.

No vaccines as they ruin the immune system. Dog start itching just after vaccine? Look at vaclib.org for ingredients in vacs like formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum and cross species rotting kidneys, brains and pus. Homeopath can help vaccine damage with thuja and other product. Itch can sometimes be a fungus from immune shut down. Wet whole body with Listerine (must be amber colored) not the blue or pink.

Even dollar store Listerine amber colored. Make sure you dip their feet into Listerine. It can even be used on goats and horses. Knock off the poisons. No flea collars (horrible), no monthly dab of advantage or any other flea poison. 20 Mule team borax into carpets for 2 weeks before you vacuum. Cedercide granules in the yard. No poison flea shampoo. Bar soap or Dawn dish soap works fine. 2 shampoos with one left on for 5 minutes before rinse works fine.

Any poison you use goes to their liver and kidneys. I really like and have used for years the Nzyme granules. They make up for my not having fresh fruits and veggies in the house at all times. Big dog gets 1 teaspoon. Small dogs 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon so canister goes a very long way. Good for skin, general health, coat, digestion, arthritis. Read their reviews. I swear by it. No, i don't sell or profit from Nzymes. Constant research and years of fostering and helping mostly dogs make very full days but are so gratifying when animals are helped.

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June 29, 20120 found this helpful

NO grapes or raisins - poison to them. As little as 7 can kill. When you feed fresh fruits and veggies raw diet for better health, this is very dangerous.

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July 13, 20120 found this helpful

Please NO steroids. Itch comes back worse and regular steroids (google it - it's all over) in the end can cause cataracts. Sounds like your lil one has athlete's foot. Easy to fix. Treat other parts too. Several ways. Feet only? athlete's foot spray. I would do dipping feet and spray bottle of the amber colored Listerine mouth wash for the body Not blue or green or pink but amber only.

Some dollar store Listerine is OK. Good for fungus on goats, horses, cats, your own feet. Sometimes clears up with one treatment. Feet can pick up the fungus again because of where the dog has walked. No need for pharmaceuticals. Stay away from vaccines as they destroy the immune system. Remember everyone's biggest organ is their skin. Keep me posted please.

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September 24, 20120 found this helpful

I have a husky. He started to chew. He took him to the vet and they did lazer light to stimulate the blood flow. Worked great but now he is chewing on his paws. Now I am lost.

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July 12, 2012 Flag
1 found this helpful

My Poodle has started biting her feet. This licking and biting has caused sores to appear on each foot. Is there something I can do to help her stop?

By Lynda H.

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July 13, 20120 found this helpful

My solution after years of trying different things is 1/4 to 1/2 a paracetamol tablet twice a day for a few days, then stop to see if she restarts chewing.Washing paws with Epsom salts dissolved in warm water will also help. Desperate measures have included piriton in the past. Vets will go barmy at this post but it worked for us and is a damn site cheaper.

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July 14, 20120 found this helpful

Something is probably bothering her feet in order for her to be doing that. Take her to the vet.

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November 2, 20120 found this helpful

The answer is called a veterinarian.

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April 27, 2012 Flag
0 found this helpful

My poodle has started chewing on her feet. Sometimes she will chew so hard it will bleed. Please help me find information.

By Lynda H

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April 27, 20120 found this helpful

Does she need her nails trimmed? Does she have ant bites? Those are my first two things I would suspect. Because my dogs has done that before.

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April 29, 20120 found this helpful

Athlete's foot spray. Safe

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April 30, 20120 found this helpful

Your dog is chewing on her feet because she is having an allergy attack. She may be allergic to the food you are feeding her, to the grass, to pollen just like humans. Lamb, duck and sweet potato are better choices then chicken or beef. Make sure the meat is the first ingredient.

I give my girls Benadry when they start chewing on their paws. Buy the ultratabs NOT the liquid (has too much alcohol). The recommended dose is 1 mg per pound. Benadry tablets are 25 mg each. So if your dog weights 12 pounds give him/her 1/2 tablet. I have given them one in the

morning and one in the evening to help them sleep.

Hope this helps. Celia

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June 13, 2012 Flag
0 found this helpful

My dog has allergies. What kind of off the shelf medicine can I get to keep a 17 lb. Rat terrier from chewing on her feet?

By Rod

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June 14, 20120 found this helpful

What are you washing your floors with? Can it be an allergic reaction to that? Or to new carpeting? Do you put pesticides down on your lawn or walk the dog where pesticides are used?

Also, have you researched the pet food you're giving your dog? With all the bad stuff that is being put in pet food that might be an area to check out. Try typing in the name of your pet food in your search engine with "allergic reaction" next to it and see what you get. One "high quality" dog food I used caused seizures in my dog and other dogs that were fed it. Had I not checked it out on the web I never would have known and my dog may have been condemned to a lifetime of seizures. And of course the company that made it denied, denied, denied that it was bad food.

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June 15, 20120 found this helpful

You don't mention what kind of allergies your dog has. It is common with food allergies for dogs to chew themselves. My dog was relentless until there was no hair whenever he could reach with his teeth. It it is a food allergy, keep trying new foods until you find one he doesn't become allergic to. He will begin to chew again if he is allergic to something in the new food.

I finally ended up with a home cooked mix of brown rice and canned salmon that my dog ate until he died at 17 years. He never chewed again. I must have gone through 5 or 6 different mixes until I hit the one that worked. Don't give up and good luck.

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