For some reason this fall has been harder on the dogs. It seems almost every dog is struggling with a symptom I call "Dreaded Paw Chewing" Well I dread it, I am guessing a lot of dog owners do too.
I also have noticed many other dog owners seem to be, like me searching for a cause and a solution. This is the first year we have had to deal with it.

I have tried everything that we successfully tried in years past to help with other similar issues. But this year I wanted to understand Just what is going on and how to stop the Chewing.

First we needed to review and eliminate what was not causing the paw chewing. I know that this can be a symptom pointing to several health issues. These are normally divided into several basic causes: Stress, boredom, skin infections, allergic reaction, and external parasites.

 tick fleaclipart

We looked at the obvious External Parasites. Fleas or other external parasites can bite the dog and cause itchy skin. The dog will chew his paws, attempting to remove the parasites and soothe his itching skin.¹ Fleas are visible to the eye. Mites are not. Clues to flea and mite infestation include hair loss scabs and sores. Your vet can easily determine if your dog has fleas or mites, so a checkup is your first stop in narrowing down possible causes. ²  Since we have not seen one tick or flea this year and all the dogs are given proper preventives. Neither does our regular visits to the vet indicate this would be the problem.

 We did a double check at skin infections. Skin infections may be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi and these agents will cause itchiness. The paws are accessible and the dog will try to soothe the itching by licking and chewing the skin. Antibiotics and fungicides can eliminate the skin infections and once the dog has a healthy skin, he will stop chewing his paws.¹ 


 Bacterial infections show up on your dog in the form of crusty or cracked skin and hair loss. All skin has bacteria, but if your dog’s immune system is already off balance, he can develop hypersensitivity to normal skin bacteria. This causes itching. Itches causes scratching, licking and chewing. This often spreads the infection and things go downhill from there. Antibiotics to control the infection offer short-term, usually rapid relief. Unfortunately, the bacteria that survive each round of antibiotics produce offspring genetically resistant to the antibiotic. ³



None of our dogs have cracked skin or hair loss. Fungal infections can often appear similar to bacterial infections and allergies. Only your vet can diagnose these and prescribe effective oral medications.


WARNING:  Don't use athlete's foot cream or spray from the drug store. Again, dogs don't read warning labels and will ingest whatever you put on them³ 


During the hot months, We were bathing the dogs once a month in the standard  Dawn original dish-washing soap. Recently we purchased some anti-fungal, anti-bacterial shampoo from our vet. This has help some of the Bostons a little bit and other dogs just did not seem to benefit. These special shampoos can be quite expensive especially if used "up to 4 times a week" if you have as many dogs as we do.  I don't think we will use this special soap very often. We will give them another bath in this in a couple more days. I really did not think this was what is causing the chewing. The dogs love their baths and it is something I had not tried. Since I am trying to eliminate possibilities we decided to try it.

Next I started looking at Stress induced Chewing. Stress is among the leading causes of dogs chewing BENNYPIPPIN 8545on their paws. The stress is a complex problem that can be triggered by a past event or a constant element in the dog's environment. It takes a detective's eye to identify the source of stress. Some possible sources of stress may include: Separation from an owner or abandonment, which causes the well known separation anxiety, causing the dog to chew on his on fur and skin as a sign of nervousness.  Other causes could be the absence of a person in the family  or the appearance of a new person in the family such as a new baby or a new partner. Even changes in the daily routine and walking schedule,  could be a cause of stress.  The list of causes is long. The chewing behavior should disappear once the dog feels comfortable and safe again. One of the stresses that we have often had to deal with when having several fosters dogs at one time, is their adapting to new dogs and environment, including playmates. But due to careful management of playmates and supervised playtime, we have never had stress to cause paw chewing.  Currently our fosters seem to be mostly a relaxed happy pack.



A lamp shade collar (the dreaded cone of shame) may be used to prevent the dog from chewing his paws.¹ 

Since all of the dogs at my house are dogs are rescued and have been here several years and some for months, we do not know the backgrounds, but none of them were exhibiting chewing of their paws until recently.  I am almost certain none of the above would be the cause so I keep on searching for the cause.