PetMeds® Why Dogs Bite or Chew Their Nails
|“Why does my pet bite his nails or toes so much?” is a very common question presented to veterinarians. Often clients mistakenly think that it is a nervous habit or that their pet’s nails are too long. In the vast majority of cases, however, this annoying symptom (which can sometimes lead to secondary redness, inflammation and bacterial or yeast infection of the feet) is usually due to some sort of underlying allergy in their pet.|
The most common class of allergens include inhalant/contact allergens such as grass, trees, mold, pollen, ragweed, house dust, food allergies, and less likely flea bite allergies. Mange mites are less common a cause of this symptom. As an initial treatment at home, one can try an oral antihistamine such as Chlorpheniramine or Diphenhydramine, as well as adding an omega 3 fatty acid to the diet such as Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet and reassess if there is any improvement over a few weeks. If the problem is year round, changing to a restricted novel protein diet such as duck, rabbit, or venison-based diets can be tried for a few months to see if there is any relief.
Finally if symptoms persist, or worsen, your pet may need prescription medication such as oral antihistamines, antibiotics, or possibly oral cortisone to alleviate feet/nail chewing and biting and the secondary infections. It’s also possible a skin scrape may need to be performed at a veterinary office to make sure there are no mange mites causing the licking and itching. For those clients who truly want to uncover and treat the underlying allergies, often a referral to a veterinary dermatologist is needed who can perform the necessary skin and/or blood tests. However, even with this approach, much time and patience, sometimes up to one year or more, is needed by the animal guardian, as allergy desentization is attempted by the veterinary dermatologist.