Why Do Dogs Chew, Lick or Scratch Repeatedly and Compulsively?

A visitor to our facebook page asked us recently about dogs licking his/her paws in the evening. This could be for a number of reasons. A veterinarian once told us about our own dog that it can be a sign of arthritis pain, so definitely something you’d want to look into with your dog. Pet and dog experts also point to other reasons, like allergies, boredom, even obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s especially a concern when a dog is licking a paw or any area nonstop. In part because it can be awfully distracting to observe, but it also might mean your dog is very uncomfortable or in pain and that’s never an acceptable situation.

For those of you who have had at least one dog in your life, let alone numerous dogs, you have probably experienced some chewing, licking and scratching behaviors and know they can be quite common in dogs. The harder part is getting to the cause, as there can be a variety of causes. Sometimes you can notice what looks like a raw spot that might be red and irritated. This is usually a result of licking. Some diagnoses can include dermatitis. Again, there can be a number of reasons dogs chew, lick or scratch repeatedly and compulsively.

Taking dog for walk

Here are some possible reasons:

Allergies

This could mean food allergies or environmental triggers like including mold and pollen.  Dogs can develop contact dermatitis from encountering irritants in pesticides or soap.

Anxiety & Boredom

Just as people get bored and chew their nails or cuticles or pull at their hair, dogs can have similar responses to their life situation, especially when the home situation is in an upheaval with the humans in their lives.  Becoming obsessive and compulsive in response to something that is out of their control can result in chewing, licking and scratching behaviors that can cause severe damage.

Pain

This is something we never want to think and see in our pets and where we need to do everything we can to identify if a dog is in pain; if so, what is the cause; and what is the treatment? There could be an acute issue, like something stepped on, a bee sting or spider bite, or arthritis or joint problem.

Skin Issues

Many common factors like climate and diet can cause skin issues in dogs that then result in discomfort for your dog that causes chewing, licking or scratching repeatedly. Besides a skin issue, the dog could have been affected by fleas, mites or ticks and that must be addressed with a professional to be sure to eradicate the situation as quickly as possible for your dog’s sake and yours.

 We all make a promise to our dogs when we take them in to our lives, so be sure to honor that commitment along with the bond and dedication from your dog by making sure he or she is always well cared for and sees a veterinarian regularly as well as when needed. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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