When our dog Elsie was less than a year old, she started to lick her paws whenever she was resting. I had read that Boxers were fastidious cleaners, so I assumed that this was a breed trait coming out and thought cleanliness was a good thing.
Over time, her foot licking became more frequent and vigorous, and eventually lead to foot chewing. She would often wake up from a deep sleep and start biting and chewing her feet such intensity that we realized something wasn’t right. Her paws became red and irritated and the hair around her toes became thin.
At closer inspection, we noticed that the skin between Elsie’s toes and the area around her nails were becoming a dark brownish, red color. Our puppy’s beautiful white “socks” were turning a rusty red and she was clearly uncomfortable.
Obsessive foot licking and chewing is a common sign of atopic dermatitis or skin allergies. If you find that your dog is constantly licking or gnawing at their feet, it is quite possible that they are suffering from allergies.
Before you jump to any conclusions, you’ll want to inspect their feet. Gently check between their toes and the bottom of their paw pads to make sure there aren’t any cuts or splinter. If you have a dog with longer hair, make sure they don’t have any items like matted fur or sticks or burs which may be irritating their feet.
Once you’ve determined that your dog’s licking and chewing is not related to an injury or irritant, take your dog in to a veterinarian. Too much foot chewing can lead to bacterial infections or other skin problems. Plus, it can make life quite uncomfortable for your furry friend.
Once we found an allergy treatment that worked for Elsie (more on that later), her rusty red feet eventually reverted back to their original pretty white coloring. She no longer licks or chews on her feet and is able to relax like a normal dog.