Have you noticed your dog constantly biting and licking his paws? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Each year, at the start of Spring, I usually notice my dog gnawing away at his paw-pads. As a concerned pet parent, I always want to make sure he’s healthy and as comfortable as he can be. It’s heartbreaking to see him biting and licking himself, in search of relief. I’m sure you understand! To help comfort our pups, though, we must first figure out why they’re munching on their tootsies.
Why Is My Dog Chewing His Paws?
The most common cause: Canine atopic dermatitis. It’s a common skin disease that results from chronic inflammation and is associated with allergies. Like us humans, our canine companions can suffer from the uncomfortable reality of allergies.
Some common allergens that cause canine atopic dermatitis include:
- Dust mites
- Flea saliva
Dogs normally show signs of atopic dermatitis between 1-6 years of age.
Warning Signs & Symptoms
- Persistent itching and scratching
- Red and inflamed paw pads, from excessive licking and chewing
- Brown saliva stains on paw pads due to excessive licking
- Shaking head and ears: Ears can itch and/or become infected
- Runny nose and watery eyes can be present, but less frequently
- A yeasty smell: Be alert for any odors, open wounds, or skin breakdown from the excessive licking and chewing. These can be signs of infection and will need to be looked at by the vet.
Along with your dog’s paw pads and in between the toes, some other common areas of canine atopic dermatitis include:
- Base of the tail
- Around the eyes
Are Certain Breeds More Susceptible?
Yes! Since there is a hereditary nature to canine atopic dermatitis, some breeds are more likely to develop it. These breeds including Poodles, Golden Retrievers, most terriers, Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels. With that said, it’s important to note that any dog — including mixed breeds — can develop allergies.
How To Diagnose Allergies
Diagnosing allergies can be tricky.
Your vet can do skin tests and blood tests to identify what your pup is allergic to. Depending on the severity, he may want to treat with steroids or antihistamines. Whether you want to go that route or not (I’ll talk about natural treatments in just a minute), it’s always a good idea to let your vet know what’s going on with your pup.
With atopic dermatitis, you want to make sure your pooch doesn’t wind up with a bacterial or yeast infection. So a trip to the vet is definitely warranted.
Natural Treatments To Try
- Limit Exposure: Typically, the first thing to do if you know the cause would be to remove the trigger. But, since environmental causes are not that easy to remove, your best bet is to try and limit exposure.
- Create a Barrier: Consider putting a tee-shirt on your fur baby to create a barrier between his skin and the environment. Remember to wash and change your dog’s clothes daily to remove lingering pollens.
- A Quick Clean: When your dog comes inside from a walk, wipe him down with a damp cloth or grooming wipe to remove surface pollen. Wipe his face, paws, the underside of his belly, underarms, groin, tail and anal/genital areas. As I mentioned above, these are the areas most prone to contact exposure while walking your pup. Here are the brands that I’ve used and really like:
- A More Thorough Wash: Rinse your dog’s paws after an outing. I do this in the summer months before bed every night when my pups allergies act up and she gets instant relief. I just run her little paws under cool water for a few minutes while massaging her feet and paw-pads. Then I dry her off with a towel. She curls up in the bed and happily goes to sleep. Total relief – no biting or licking those little tootsies.
- A Full-On Bath: Give your dog a bath, but not more than once a week. You don’t want to dry his/her skin out. Bathing usually gives symptomatic relief and removes pollens from the skin. Use gentle, hypoallergenic formulas. Or try a soothing oatmeal shampoo.
- CBD Oil: Experts say CDB oil proves extremely effective when it comes to atopic dermatitis. Derived from hemp, CBD oil offers up many health benefits for dogs. I’ve added Cannanine Organic CBD Oil From Hemp to my Chihuahua’s breakfast every day for nearly 2 years. It’s worked wonders and I highly recommend it. Check it out HERE!
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil has powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. While I include it in some of my dog’s treats, you can also use it topically. When applied directly into your dog’s skin, it can help restore skin health and prevent future infections.
- Omega-3s: Studies have shown Omega-3 fatty acids may relieve atopic dermatitis. Speak to your vet about increasing fatty acids in your pup’s diet and possibly using an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
- Keep a Clean Home: Keep your carpets vacuumed and linens washed/changed to keep dust mites to a minimum.
- Change Air Filters Regularly: Use air filters to help reduce airborne allergens within the home. Make sure to change them regularly!