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What Does It Mean When Your Dog Bites Their Nails?

 by jaime on 08 Sep 2014 |
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Human beings have a number of nervous ticks that are easily noticed by other individuals. One of the most common is biting finger nails. Many individuals associate this behavior with nerves or higher levels of stress. Extraordinarily, this same behavior is exhibited in dogs.

Have you ever noticed this behavior in your dog?
 
Dogs, like other animals, are constantly grooming themselves by licking various regions of the body. You'll notice your dog licking its paws, legs, hindquarters, and even its nails. However, there is a difference between regular grooming and chronic behavior. Dogs prefers to have their nails kept at a shorter length, so sometimes, chewing nails is a sign that it's time for some regular grooming. In this case, trimming your dog's nails should solve the problem.
 
However, if trimming their nails does not resolve this issue, it is time to consider a few deeper problems that could be causing this irritation.
 
Your dog spends the day roaming through a variety of natural environments. Between playing outdoors, running around the house and eating, your dog can be exposed to a number of different allergens. Allergies to grass, pollen, and specific ingredients can leave your dog with itchy paws and nails. In order to relieve that itch, your dog is going to chew at the source of the problem.
 
Likewise, whilst playing around outdoors and running through the house, it is possible for your dog to pick up small injuries or fungal infections. If your dog suffers an injury to their paw, the open wound could become infected and lead to nail chewing. Signs of an infection include red, swollen, or sensitive nails.
 
Sometimes, like humans, nail biting is a sign of a mental health issue. Your dog may have neurotic tendencies, feel anxious, or even just be bored and find nail chewing as a good use of time. Separation anxiety could lead a dog that is left home alone to chew their nails to relieve nervousness. Likewise, dogs with pent up energy may chew their nails out of a lack of anything better to do.
 
How you deal with your dog's nail biting and chewing depends upon the root cause of the behavior. For dogs with allergies or infections, a visit to the veterinarian's office is the best way to discover the source of the problem. In the case of infections, your vet will be able to treat the wound and provide any medications necessary for continued treatment of the infection. A vet may have a hard time identifying a specific allergen, which means you will need to begin paying attention to interactions (food or environment) that bring out the behavior in your dog.
 
When it comes to mental conditions, the power to curtail the biting behavior is entirely in your hands. If your dog suffers separation anxiety, you'll need to work on reassuring them each time you leave the house and providing toys for them to chew on instead of their nails. If your dog chews out of boredom, the best course of action is to introduce more exercise, as well as physical and mental stimulation into their day.


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