Why Do Dogs Chew And Lick Their Paws And Nails?

by Patrick P. Jones, DVM

You remember the old song; The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone. The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…Well, as it turns out, in dogs the foot bone’s connected to the ear bone.

Clients often come to my veterinary clinic with dogs with ear infections. While I’m cleaning the dog’s ears out, I ask “So, does this guy chew his feet a lot?” The owner looks at me a bit surprised and usually answers “Well, yes. He chews his feet all the time. How did you know?” Well I must confess, I’m no psychic or animal intuitive. Nor do I speak dog with great fluency. But, I know dogs that chew their feet get ear infections.

It all starts with a chemical called histamine. Histamines are released by the body in response to an allergic stimulus. It’s the body’s mechanism for driving the foreign substance out. In humans, most of the histamine-releasing cells are located in the linings of the eyes and in the mucus membranes lining the sinuses and bronchi. So, when humans have an allergic reaction they wheeze and sneeze and cry.

In dogs, on the other hand, histamine-releasing cells are mostly located in the skin and are highly concentrated in the ears and paws. So, when a dog has an allergic reaction they don’t sneeze and wheeze. They itch, especially in their ears and paws. As the ear canals become inflamed from the histamines they swell and secrete excess fluid. This warm, wet environment becomes a perfect habitat for yeasts and bacteria and, next thing you know, you have an ear infection.

“So”, you ask, “how do we help these dogs?” By supporting the normal detox of the liver of course. Yup, the liver. What does the liver have to do with any of this?  Everything. The liver is the organ that cleans and filters the blood. It is the organ that removes and breaks down the histamines. When a dog (horse, aardvark, human) has severe allergies the liver can become overloaded with histamines.

In the dog line, we use the #10 Foundation and #34 Al R G Support together. In the horse line, we use the #27 Liver Support formula and the #24 Immune Support formula together.

10 thoughts on “Why Do Dogs Chew And Lick Their Paws And Nails?

  1. 1st off a 3 wk old.puppy shouldn’t be away from the mother. The puppy relies on mom to provide her babies with proper nutrition. Mom should be a very good healthy diet to keep up with her babies as they grow. My pug puppies don’t go to their new forever home after I go over their information and weather I feel they’re a fit for my babies. My puppies don’t leave till 9 wks old.

  2. I just got my dog which is barely 3weeks old and she couldn’t sleep all through the night but I was close to her all through the night giving her milk but all is do is licking her leg and ear what can I do please

    1. At 3 weeks old I wouldn’t expect them to be sleeping through the night. I would expects to be feeding them 2-3 times through the night at this point.

    2. 3 weeks old is young. Usually puppies are not weaned from their moms until they are 6 to 8 weeks old. Also what kind of milk are you feeding her? Puppies needs milk from a dog or a type of dog milk replacer. They will struggle digesting and absorbing the required nutrition from other types of milk.

  3. Dogs if they are wet for more time they start chewing their own leg to wipe it out instead of that you need to do either of 2 things from one is to take in sunlight for half n hour and 2nd is to wipe with 2 different towels to make the dog completely water less.

  4. My Shin Tzu 14 years old wakes up at least four times every night, I sleep close to her but still continue to bark, It affects both of us my job and her not able to sleep, I try to walk her but she is slow now, I look at her ears but it is clean, I hope for her to sleep well, when my husband sleeps with her she is fine.

  5. my 12 1/2 year old CockaPoo is doing EXACTLY this! please post what you find out. we have had a complete blood profile done at the vet… no problems
    she does have floppy ears so is prone to ear infections but this is a relatively new problem…within the last month

  6. My dog wakes up 2 to 3 times a night. She is 15 years old. She gets walks 2 times each day. She is slowing down slot. If I go from one room to another she will get up and follow me. This happens even if she lays down in one room she will get up and follow me. She does slot of heavy breathing. I also just noticed her licking her leg which seems to be a hot spot.

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