Why Does My Dog Bite Her Nails?

Luna's a nail biter. She doesn't chew or obsessively lick her paws, but about once a week she goes to town on her nails. According to the internet, the mainstream reason that dogs lick and chew their paws is that they suffer from allergies. This is not the case for Luna. She shows no other signs of allergies and only chews her nails every once and a while. Here are a few other reasons that a dog may bite her nails:

1. Her nails are too long! Luna came to us not having received any basic personal care for some time. Among other issues, her nails were far too long. I suspect the only nail trimming she had prior to joining our family was achieved by her teeth! That is, of course, a thing of the past.



This is in fact Teddy's paw. He is a very patient model.

2. Stuff between her toes. I expect all dogs get things jammed between their toes every once and a while, whether poodle or not. You know that feeling when you have a small rock in your shoe? Annoying right? The longer the fur is between their toes, the more likely it is to attract things like seeds, dirt, stones, etc. I tend to groom their feet and faces weekly, but things still collect in their paws on a daily basis. D'Art pulls small pine cones out of his toes quite regularly and just the other day Teddy stepped on a slug and had sticky slim glued to his toe fur. Oh the joys of living in the forest!

3. Long hair. As mentioned above, dogs that don't shed need grooming and toes are no exception. Long hair between their toes gets matted, stays moist and also attracts more bacterial and fungal infections. In fact in the photo above, Teddy is due for a feet trim!

4. Boredom. I don't know a single dog that doesn't need mental stimulation (in addition to physical). Sometimes replacing a bad habit that develops out of boredom (such as nail biting) with a toy or food puzzle is enough to solve the problem. If I know Luna's nails aren't too long and she still bites them, I redirect her need to chew onto a toy bone. This seems a sufficient and welcome distraction.


She was biting her nails a few minutes before this!

Do you have any tips on how to kick the nail biting habit?

Comments

  1. I do have a nail biter and I think Zoey does it as part of a grooming and self calming action. It's not as common as it was a one period, but whenever I see her do it, I don't stop her I just give her a little extra love.

    Usually a trip upstairs to visit the kitty does her some good.

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  2. Wow, that' a good question. Any chance of more exercise (which stimulates the body as well as the mind)? Or puzzle treat dispensers so she has to think more? Good luck.

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    1. Great suggestions! I'm a firm believer in the importance of physical exercise too!

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  3. My guys aren't nail biters. But Ryder can sympathize about getting stuff stuck to his feet. In the winter snow gets stuck between the pads on his feet and just gets bigger and bigger. He has to pull the balls of packed snow out, or get our help. And stuff is always getting caught in his feathers! (Branches, burrs, leaves, etc)

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  4. My dogs chew their nails when they need a trim. One day I noticed Matilda sort of sucking her thumb, but she was really nibbling her dewclaw - a quick snip fixed that!

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    1. I'm glad Luna isn't the only one who tries to do it herself!

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  5. Not only does my dog Toby bite his nails, but he also has had encounters with slugs. He has actually brought in a couple that has got stuck to his paws. Not fun clearing them up from the carpet. I usually give his paws a quick clean with a towel when we come in from a long walk.

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