Why Your Dog is Biting Its Nails

Dogs chew on their nails as part of their grooming process and is expected and natural.

However, when the chewing becomes chronic, it usually means something is wrong with your pup or is bothering him. It could be a simple answer or something more complicated like a new behavioral pattern.

The first thing you should do is to check your dog’s nails.  Your dog might merely be licking or chewing at its paws because something is stuck in their pad.

If his pads look clean, there are other reasons why your dog is chewing his nails.

6 Reasons Why Dogs Bite Their Nails

Here are the top 6 reasons why your dog is chewing his or her nails:

1. Your Dog’s Nails Are Too Long!

dog getting nails cutYour dog may be biting his nails because they are too long and he is biting them off.

How Long Should My Dog’s Nails Be?

Nails at their longest should just clear the ground when the puppy stands in place.

If you hear your puppy clicking on your kitchen floor, it’s time to trim those nails. Some dogs’ nails naturally break on their own while walking, but if your dog is chewing them, this clearly isn’t the case.

You can always trim the nails yourself or if that is too hard, take your dog to the groomer or vet to have them do it for you.

2. Your Dog is Chewing on a Nail Because it’s Broken

Broken nails aren’t always obvious. Sometimes they break at the very base of the nail, where the nail is still attached to your pup’s skin.

And this type of break will bother your dog causing him to chew on it. Your little guy may start biting at and licking the out-of-order nail.

Broken nails do sometimes come off on their own, but don’t let the situation resolve itself and become infected.

3. Your Dog Could Chew On Their Nails Because of Outdoor Allergens

Allergies to food or to grass, pollen, and other outdoor allergens can make your dog itchy; and chewing on paws is a symptom. Inhalant allergies, also known as atopy are another cause of repeated paw licking and nail biting and itching of the skin, especially the feet and toes.

Dogs then lick their feet and bite their nails because of the itching. The moisture and infection in the saliva then encourages a secondary bacterial or fungal infection on the feet which is why it’s important to stop this behavior as soon as you have seen it occur.  A re-occurring condition like atopy can be serious and on-going and the cost can add up which is why pet insurance can be extremely helpful.

4. Your Dog Might Have a Fungal Infection

Your dog may be chewing his nails because the nail bed has a fungal infection. It might also be a result of injuring a nail.   If a nail is injured, and the wound is exposed, an infection may result. An exposed and untreated wound may lead to infection and make your dog itch.

An infection, such as a bacterial infection is sometimes characterized by swollen, oozing, and fractured claws, and are often secondary to another condition. If only one claw is affected, it is more likely due to trauma, while multiple infected claws point to other underlying medical problems.

This can lead to a paw injury which a pet insurance company like Healthy Paws would cover if the paw is seriously infected (and another reason to have pet insurance).

Various parasites can cause your dog’s nails to grow abnormally and become inflamed. The most common is demodicosis which is caused by Demodex mites that normally live on the skin.

You will have to take your pooch to the veterinarian for treatment with an antibiotic for any infection.

5. Your Dog Could Be Anxious

Some dogs are neurotic or just anxious. Sometimes a case of separation anxiety or stress about his surroundings will have your dog chewing on his nails to relieve his nervousness.  Chewing nails, defecating in the house and destructive behavior are common signs of anxiety.

Anxiety can cause your dog to use his teeth and grind his nails. In instances, something like a dog parking too loudly outside or fireworks can get a dog worked up to the point that he develops a compulsive behavior he falls back on every time he’s scared.

Separation anxiety can also cause dog chewing. Instead of sleeping while you’re gone, your pup may chew his nails, feet, and skin.  He is nervous, bored and misses you.  Try to leave him ropes, balls and especially treat dispensers to stymie his boredom and mild cases of separation anxiety.  Maybe a bone to chew on (raw-hide) would help so he can bite that instead of his nails.

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it might be worth seeing a dog behavioral specialist to see if that can help your dog’s anxiety.  In fact, some insurance plans, like Embrace, cover behavioral therapy.

6. Your Dog is Biting Their Nails Because They Are Bored

Stimulating a dog’s senses is essential. Exercise, playtime, talking and training are all essential. A bored dog will become destructive to himself and his surroundings. Nail biting is a common sign of boredom. Make sure to have interactive play toys when another dog or human interaction isn’t possible.

Before you leave each day, make sure to walk your dog or let him run in the yard.  A tired dog is a happy dog and will most likely sleep and not chew is paws.

Can Pet Insurance Help with Nail Biting?

If your dog continues to chew on his or her nails and they have been groomed, take your dog to the vet for a check-up.  If your vet determines that it is not a medical condition, then it most likely is a behavioral condition and needs to be addressed differently.

If you think pet insurance might now be necessary for your dog, there are a few pet insurance companies with short waiting periods so that you can check with those companies first.

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