Updated: Sep 11
When you notice an injury, favoring, limping, or even excessive licking and biting, it’s time to understand what might be going on. Your Schnauzer’s paws are built for a lot of outdoor use, and they are pretty tough but they are not indestructible.
Why Do Schnauzers Lick and Bite Their Paws?
Generally speaking, licking and biting paws is simply a grooming technique that nearly all Schnauzers will engage in. However, it can also be due to anxiety, health problems, a yeast infection, or even boredom.
Schnauzers can spend a great deal of time licking their paws. This behavior is natural for the most part, especially if you’re Schnauzer is a meticulous self-groomer. He is likely to lick his feet after meals, a walk, and when settling in his bed to sleep. Many dogs, including Schnauzers, also lick paws before sleeping as a way of relaxing and soothing their bodies. If your Schnauzer is licking his paws occasionally and upon inspection the paws look normal (there is no redness or swelling), then you have nothing to worry about. Licking and biting at paws is a normal grooming technique that most, if not all, Schnauzers will engage it.
If licking or biting becomes excessive, you can implement distraction or retraining techniques, and also schedule a visit with your veterinarian to rule out serious health issues.
When Should I Worry About Paw Licking and Biting?
Licking and biting is a problem when the behavior is persistent and the paws develop pain, irritation, or inflammation. The dog’s paws may also develop redness, odor, bleeding, and wounds that can be difficult to treat. For example, your Schnauzer may have stepped on something sharp or a hot pavement, causing pain. In addition, an insect bite or a foreign object stuck on his paw can irritate him.
Other reasons that cause Schnauzers to lick and chew their paws include:
Allergies: Dogs are prone to seasonal allergies caused by pollen, or cleaning products at home. Some dogs also develop reactions to specific foods like wheat, lamb, eggs, dairy, corn, chicken, or soy. Other causes of allergies include dust mites, prescription drugs, plastic or rubber material, insecticidal shampoo as well as flea-control and cleaning products.
It can be challenging to identify the ingredient causing the allergy unless your Schnauzer has had prior exposure to the ingredient. As such, you need to visit the vet to perform a food allergy test to determine the specific ingredient leading to the allergic reaction.
Anxiety: Dogs with anxiety syndrome find relief by licking their paws excessively. This condition is similar to humans’ nail-biting behavior when they are anxious. Some causes of anxiety include depression, lack of adequate exercise, illnesses, depression, and separation from the dog’s owner for an extended period.
Boredom: Modern dogs barely engage in adventurous activities like hunting. Schnauzers are a particularly energetic breed because they have historically been hunters and watchdogs. It is this built up energy that causes them to engage in destructive behavior, including excessive licking and biting of its paws.
Some ways to keep them engaged include:
Avoid leaving your Schnauzer at home alone for long periods
Allow him to socialize with other dogs and people
Keep him engaged if you must leave him alone with new toys
Take him for a walk at least 30 minutes each day
Engage him in a new sport, training or day-care once a week
Dry Skin: Dry skin can also cause a dog to lick and bite its paws. Dry skin can be breed-specific or a result of cold and dry weather. For example, if you are living in cold and dry climates, your Schnauzer may lick and bite his paws as a result of dry skin. Ask a vet for a suitable dog oil or lotion to relieve dryness. Additionally, you need to avoid bathing using harsh soaps or excessive bathing as it can also cause your dog to develop dry skin.
Parasites: Mites, fleas, ticks also cause itchy sensations, and your Schnauzer may address the problem by compulsive paw licking. The condition becomes worse if your Schnauzer is already allergic to fleas. Be sure to visit your vet to recommend appropriate medication and avoid administering over-the-counter drugs.
Cold Weather: If your Schnauzer only licks paws during winter, it may be as a result of sore paws caused by ice balls or wet fur. Ice balls form between hairy toes when the snow gets stuck in the fur. This can lead to bleeding, cracking, and extremely painful hair pulling. As such, you need to keep the hair between the toes and pads short and trimmed during winter.
Wet muddy fur around the pads can cause pulling that is very painful so this is important to check weekly
How to Inspect your Schnauzers Paws
It’s essential to check your Schnauzer’s paws often, especially after outdoor play or a long walk. Examine his feet for injury or damage. Keep his nails filed, and the hair around the paws trimmed using scissors. Avoid cutting too close to the skin as you may cut his paw accidentally.
Inspect the nails for damage or cracks: Gently pull the toes apart and check for injuries or lodged objects. Inspect each pad and gently press on each one, being alert to pain, swelling, or bleeding. Always get your vets option if you notice something is not right.
My Schnauzer is Licking or Biting only one paw: If your Schnauzer is licking only one paw, it is a sign of pain, irritation, or infection on that particular paw. Pain in that area may be a result of insect bites, a broken nail, a thorn, a piece of embedded glass. You need to get your vet to have a look at it.
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