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Do Dogs Bite Their Nails

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Published on
Wednesday 1 February 2023
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
Do Dogs Bite Their Nails
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Do not be shocked if your dog starts biting their nails; dogs can occasionally bite their nails and lick their paws. It comes as only one of their grooming rituals. However, if you see them doing it more frequently, there might be other underlying reasons behind the behavior. With that, this article will answer your questions about why dogs bite their nails if that behavior is safe. Additionally, you will learn how to prevent them from chewing their nails.

Do Dogs Chew Their Nails?

While it’s common for dogs sometimes to chew their nails, if your dog is doing it frequently, it may have a medical or behavioral issue (Dr. Marthy, 2018). Additional signs of canine claw issues include pain while walking, swelling around the claws, and brittle or uneven nails.

And as mentioned, extreme nail chewing is not usual for dogs. Extremely frequent nail chewing might indicate several other problems. 

Chewing their nails or paws can be one of the signs that your pet has an allergy. In addition, canine atopy might also be the reason behind their nail biting. Since some of its symptoms are itching that typically occurs between the toes, it can lead to excessive nail biting.

To know more about the reasons behind this behavior, continue reading the article as we enumerate the possible factors. 

Why Do Dogs Bite Their Nails

After knowing that some dogs chew their nails, let us now discuss the possible reasons why dogs keep exhibiting the said behavior. Knowing these reasons will help pet owners address the problem.


Canines can get allergies too. They can be set off by various environmental events, much like humans. Your dog may experience excruciating suffering as a result of allergies. Itching, swelling, redness, and discomfort are common symptoms of more severe skin allergies. 

  • Food allergies
  • Outdoor/Environment allergies
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Medicine allergies

Nevertheless, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible to identify whether allergies are causing the behavior and which type of allergy it is. 


As mentioned in an article by Scott (n.d), anxiety can also be another reason behind nail biting. While there are numerous signs of anxiousness, your animal buddy may be anxious or bored if they chew or bite their nails. A nervous dog will bite its nails or fingers, much like an anxious person. 

Nail biting may develop into a compulsive issue. It can lead to issues later on, whether your absence, a change in your environment, or boredom brings it on. If it seems your dog always acts this way when left alone or without stimulation, you might try providing them with exciting toys

However, your dogs may suffer more severe anxiety problems if they act out destructively. This behavior includes peeing indoors, pacing, panting, or exhibiting other unsettling symptoms. 

Also, paw chewing in dogs can occasionally lead to an obsessive-compulsive condition. So consult your veterinarian if this is a persistent issue for which you cannot find a solution.

Fleas and Ticks

On our dogs, fleas and ticks tend to hide in corners like paws. Plus, the presence of ticks or fleas can be quite painful, causing massive discomfort to your dog. Your dog might try to bite their nails to relieve the pain

To avoid this, check for any signs of fleas or ticks on your dog’s paws and between their toes if you notice them gnawing at their nails or toes. It is usually preferable to consult your veterinarian for appropriate removal if you do notice any ticks or other undesirable parasites in between their toes. 

According to Viera East Veterinary Center, ticks can be difficult to remove. Thus your veterinarian may instruct you on how to remove these unwanted pets effectively. 

In addition, problems brought on by these skin pests may be avoided by keeping your pet on monthly flea and tick treatment. Topical remedies are among the most popular methods for treating fleas and ticks among the many various approaches you may use.

Grooming Needs

A dog’s normal self-grooming routine occasionally includes chewing her nails. A dog may need its nails trimmed if they are chewing on its paws or nails. 

When a dog’s nails grow out too long, it might be more difficult to go about your everyday duties. Long, overgrown nails can also impose pressure on the paw pad while the animal is walking. It results in uncomfortable and painful nails and toes.

Moreover, extremely fluffy dogs may occasionally become irritated by hair overgrowth on their paws, which is another cause of them biting and gnawing their nails. Some dogs have extensive feathering around their paws and legs, which can become tangled between their toes.

Growths on Paws

One of the less common reasons for biting at the nails and paws is the presence of any lumps or growths on the paw. Since dogs can occasionally get lumps around their nails or cysts between their toes, it is crucial to be alert to it. As soon as you see any unsettling lumps on your dog’s paws, have your veterinarian examine them.


Infections can frequently develop in the area between a dog’s toes. Dogs will lick and bite at an itchy or uncomfortable region to make them feel better, but the more they lick and bite, the more harm they inflict on the area.

As a result of their exposure to dirt and bacteria on the ground, these sores on the paws readily become infected and frequently cause significant skin irritation. It’s advisable to schedule a consultation with your veterinarian right away if the area around your dog’s nails and paws seems red and inflamed. 

The veterinarian will frequently put your pet on antibiotics, send home a topical treatment for the infected region, and give your dog an E-collar to stop further licking.

Nail or Toe Injury

Dogs might get damaged nails as well. Broken nails can cause great agony, and your dog might be unable to communicate the problem to you. Due to how active they may be, our dogs frequently have nail injuries at least once in their lifetimes. 

This may easily occur when their nails get trapped on anything or fracture in various ways. This is sometimes very painful, prompting dogs to lick or bite the afflicted nail to reduce discomfort.

When you suspect a problem with a dog’s nails, it’s critical to have your dog checked out by your veterinarian right away. These wounds are known to spread fast and can cause your dog much suffering. Infections can affect your pup’s general health or, in the most difficult situations, be lethal if left untreated.

Other Skin Conditions

Numerous different skin problems that can develop around your dog’s paws and nails and cause gnawing or biting at the paws and nails are listed here. Demodectic mange is one of these typical skin disorders that is frequently limited to the paws. Hair loss on the paws and legs, gnawing at the feet, and potential secondary infections on the feet are common symptoms of this.

In addition, the possible existence of foreign material in the paw or close to the nail should also be considered. Other plant or stick materials, such as foxtails, can easily get tangled in your dog’s paws.

Is It Safe For Dogs to Chew Their Nails?

Letting your dog frequently gnaw and chew on her nails is dangerous. Even though this could occasionally occur and be routine self-grooming, it is not a healthy activity if it starts to become compulsive. 

The majority of the time, this behavior indicates that your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort, therefore, you should be sure to identify what it is. This has the potential to escalate very fast. Moreover, pay attention to your dog’s behavioral hints that anything is awry by listening to her. Dogs who frequently chew their nails risk becoming hurt, shedding blood, and contracting other diseases

Furthermore, it chewing and gnawing on their nails can cause arthritis. In contrast to more recent injuries or problems, this is not often as visible. Arthritis can occur as your dog tries to ease the discomfort in its bones and joints over time. To rule out underlying problems and alleviate your dog’s misery, always bring up nail biting with your veterinarian.

How to Stop Your Dog From Biting Its Nails

When you see this behavior, consult your veterinarian right away. They will advise on treating and ruling out any medical conditions. The preventative solution to your dog’s nail-biting behavior will depend on the reason behind it

For example, you may give your dog a diversion, such as a puzzle feeder, a durable chew, or a brand-new favorite toy if the nail biting is caused by anxiety or boredom. Or, you can wash them on more days if it’s due to ticks and fleas. 

But, the golden rule of thumb is to keep up with nail trimming, and if you require assistance, think about taking her to a groomer. For bigger dogs or those that dislike cutting their nails, you might want to use a nail grinder.

To summarize, occasional licking or chewing of paws is normal. However, if you noticed that your dog is doing it too frequently, maybe it is time to consult your veterinarian. There can be a lot of reasons behind this behavior, it can go from physical to mental health problems. 

And lastly, dog biting nails behavior can be solved in different ways depending on the reason causing it. Nevertheless, we always recommend talking to your veterinarian before doing any measures to prevent unwanted events.

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