Dog nibbles paws – why, what can i do?

Dog owners know the sound from their pet’s nibbling and licking. Mostly your dog "works" mainly the paws. If it happens once in a while, you don’t have to worry about it. It belongs then to the general fur care. You know your dog best, how often and how long your dog normally spends on grooming. If the procedure is out of the ordinary, you should get to the bottom of the cause. There are several reasons and triggers for intense paw nibbling or paw licking.

Internal reasons: Dog nibbles paws

Psychological problems as a trigger

The intensive working of the paws can be a substitute action. Usually not all four paws are affected. Our pets are sensitive and they often do not cope well with change. Cat and horse lovers can tell you a thing or two about it. Your dog is also sensitive. This trait is more or less pronounced depending on the type of dog and breed. Go through the last months in your mind and check if there have been any changes.

  • Change of job/different working hours
  • Work stress changes your behavior at home
  • less time for the four-legged friend
  • new life partner moved in
  • old life partner moved out
  • Death in the close family circle
  • new addition to the family with a baby
  • a dog pack member has died
  • A new dog in the dog pack
  • a new second dog
  • move

Sad dog licks paws

Often in our stressful daily lives, we don’t notice that our pet is feeling neglected or underutilized. These substitute actions can become compulsive. In addition, secondary diseases are possible. bloody bitten or licked paws can become inflamed and itchy. This creates a vicious circle. If there have been changes, try to improve the current situation for your dog or to better integrate him into the new living circumstances. Involve your veterinarian or animal healer, he can advise you and give you tips. In addition, depending on the intensity of nibbling and licking, the paws must be treated and the itching must be combated. If there were no changes in the last time, then tick off this possibility as a reason. Also a Bach flower therapy can help here well.

Allergy as a trigger

Allergies can show themselves by different skin irritations or ear inflammations. They can trigger a constant itch on the paws or other parts of the body that the dog wants to counteract. To get on the track of the reason of an allergy is time-consuming. Allergies in dogs can occur just as suddenly as in humans. Allergies often occur due to food. In this case, certain components of the food are the trigger. If you suspect an allergy, you should go to a nutritionist, who can help you with an exclusion diet and go with you on the search for the triggering ingredient. After some time the food can be changed to the needs of your dog.

Maltester stands in the grass - a reason for allergic reactions

Another possibility of allergic reaction is contact allergy. By observing your dog, you can determine what contact they are allergic to. Mostly all four paws are affected. If it is certain grasses or bushes, you should avoid them when walking your dog. If the cause of contact allergy is in your own garden, you must eliminate this problem immediately. If you regularly use a dog shampoo to clean the paws, your four-legged friend may also react to the ingredients of the shampoo. Do not use this dog shampoo anymore and clean the paws after walking with lukewarm water without additives. Also, do not rub the paws dry, but gently dab them with a soft towel. Ingredients of cleaning agents and detergents can also trigger allergic reactions. Until the trigger for the paw itch is found and "turned off", the dog’s paws need to be doctored up. Constant itching of the paws must be prevented and the irritated skin (between the toes and pads, upper side of the paw) must be protected with caring creams*. Only when the trigger has been found and the itching is contained, the wounds can heal, to keep the dog from nibbling before, our nibble stop* can help. Reasons of contact allergies can be:

  • Grasses
  • Bushes
  • Ground cover
  • Shampoo
  • Detergent
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Floor cleaner

More detailed information about allergies and their development can be found in this article.

External reasons: Dog nibbling on paws

Irritation due to foreign exposure

If you notice increased paw licking after walks, then you should carefully examine your dog’s affected paw. Small stones can get caught between the toes or pads. The pads may contain stings from bees or wasps. Tiny glass splinters or thorns can cause small cracks in the pads. Especially in late summer, you should also always watch out for awns! After long walks, the pads of the feet may be overloaded. They become cracked and slightly warm to the touch. Especially in winter your dog’s paws have to endure hard tests. The road salt and grit is very hard on the skin between the pads and on the pads themselves. All of these things will cause your dog to become intensely involved with his paws.

Remove small foreign bodies carefully with tweezers. Cut the fur between the toes and pads short so that fewer small objects can get caught and you can find and remove them more easily. Carefully remove road salt residues with lukewarm water and our paw bath*. You can soften cracked skin with paw balm*. In severe cold, you should protect the dog’s paws with our paw protection pen*. This is good once against the cold and also provides protection against ice residue from frozen snow. If the paws are slightly warm due to overuse or due to an insect bite, relieve the discomfort with cooling ointments, such as.B. our Apres Sun Lotion* or our Insect Stick*. Usually these small injuries heal quickly, thanks to your help. If you are outdoors a lot with your dog in the winter, you might want to buy suitable dog boots. These little boots protect paws from cold, small injuries and road salt. If the cuts are larger or your dog continues to "work" one or more paws or is lame, drive to your veterinarian’s office. There larger injuries can be treated professionally and the deeper not immediately obvious reason for the dog licks paws can be found out.

The dog licks paws due to parasites or something similar

Parasites and fungi are often responsible for your dog’s behavior. In case of fungal infestation, treatment is absolutely necessary. Fungi as a trigger for the itching are rarer, but possible. Fungal infestation can cause an infection, resulting in intense itching. Another indication of a fungal disease are bald patches (hair loss). Possible types of fungus that can occur on the legs and paws are:

  • Yeast mites
  • Filamentous fungi
  • Sprout fungi

Much more widespread is the infestation of mites. These annoying parasites include, for example, demodex mites (hair follicle mites). There are two different types of infestation. Once the whole dog body is infested by these mites or on the other hand there are selective infestations. With both types the skin is irritated, the coat falls out partially or completely and the dog suffers from annoying itching. The local infestation can occur especially in young dogs. When the mites concentrate on the paw area, discoloration can occur on the claws. An infestation of the dog’s paws is called pododermodicosis. The disease caused by the demodex mites is less frequent if the immune system is intact, therefore you should seek help from your veterinary practitioner in such a case. Together you can target your dog’s immune system.

Grass mites deserve more attention as a trigger for paw licking and paw nibbling.

What are grass mites?

The correct name is autumn mite or harvest mite. The Latin name is Neotrombicula autumnalis. These little animals belong to the family of arachnids. Animal lovers and gardeners also know them under the names of autumn grass mites or hay mites. The adults live underground. In some cases they can be found up to a depth of 60 cm. These arachnids lay their eggs above ground in the grass. The larvae hatch from these eggs after four weeks. The larvae have a size of about 0.3 mm. These annoying parasites are orange-red in color. They like warm, humid and sunny weather. They climb on blades of grass up to a height of 20 cm. There the larvae wait for passing hosts. In our latitudes, they occur primarily from July through October. In warm weather they can become active as early as April.

Only in this growth phase are the autumn grass mites parasites. They infest mammals (dogs, cats, mice and sometimes humans) and birds. Actually they are not bloodsuckers. They rarely injure blood vessels and suck blood. They mainly feed on cell juices and lymph. They scratch the skin with their mouthparts. The salivary secretion gets into the small wound and loosens the tissue. The infestation can last several days in dogs. When they are full they simply drop down. They go through another three nymphal stages and are then adult mites. Grass mites do not transmit diseases. That is the only positive thing about these annoying larvae. They can be found in meadows, in gardens and near water bodies.

Dog nibbles on paws – autumn grass mites

The salivary secretion of the mite larva can cause massive itching in the dog. In addition, when the skin is scratched by the mouthparts, inflammation can occur. Both ways are unpleasant for your four-legged friend and trigger increased scratching, nibbling and licking.

Unfortunately, in practice there is not much you can do against these annoying little animals. A 100 % security against the infestation gives it only if you reduce your walk rounds on footpaths and sand ways. But do you really want that in the most beautiful time of the year? As a preventive measure, you can apply coconut oil or our coconut spray Spazierschutz* to keep the mites away from your dog.

Weimaraner during a walk in the woods

After long walks in the woods and meadows, you can simply wash your dog’s legs and paws. For one thing, your dog will enjoy it when the weather is warm, and for another, you can simply flush those pesky larvae away. But attention. Maybe your own garden is infested with the autumn mites. These little animals are so small that you can’t see them with your naked eyes.

Nettle against grass mites

Do you protect your dog generally against vermin, then you already do something against the mite infestation. Everything that is unpleasant for ticks and fleas is useful against the mite larvae. It does not always have to be the chemical club. The scent of many essential oils is unpleasant for these parasites, we have combined them in our coconut spray*.

If your dog has already caught mites, the Yuki cares paw bath grass mites* helps to remove the parasites. Against the itching helps our grass mite lotion*, also for cats. Remember to additionally clean or wash all lying places and dog blankets.


In practice you have some possibilities to get the problem dog licks paws under control. It is best to calmly analyze all the circumstances in search of the reasons for this problem. First start from the most probable trigger and act accordingly.

Our animal healer Katrin advises you there also gladly personally to your problem. Here you can also directly arrange a (fee required) 30 minute consultation appointment with her.

If you already know that your Ter is allergic, maybe the allergy package is also something for you.

Katrin Scholz - veterinary practitioner and nutritionist for dogs

Text by Balance Cure veterinary practice& Textbroker / Pamina 2
Photos by Pixabay

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