Why Do Dogs Chew Their Nails?

By Angela Tague

Nail chewing and biting is not standard dog behavior and could be a cause for concern, according to Dr. Page Wages at the Oberlin Animal Hospital. Boredom, anxiety, poor grooming, allergies and infections are common causes for the chewing habit, and should be addressed quickly to ease the dog's distress. Some causes can easily be resolved by a trip to the pet store for allergy sensitive food and toys, while other conditions will require a prescription by a veterinarian.


Food and outdoor allergies can lead to nail biting in dogs. Allergies to grass, pollen and other outdoor items may be irritating the dogs paws and nails. Additives to the dog's diet may also be causing discomfort, including corn. Chewing the nails is a way dogs relieve their itchy sensation. Allergy sensitive foods, including those without corn, are available at large pet retailers. Veterinarians can provide a prescription to ease the symptoms of outdoor allergies.


If a nail is injured, and the wound is exposed, infection may result. If the area around the dog's nails appears red, swollen, tender to the touch or is seeping, it may be infected. Dogs will chew the area to relieve the pressure and itchy feeling. An antibiotic is required to cure the infection, so a trip to the vet is necessary.


Leaving dogs alone can cause anxiety behaviors for some. Chewing nails, defecating in the house and destructive behavior are common signs of anxiety. Crate or kennel the dog when he will be left alone in the home. Dogs are den animals by nature, and need to feel secure. Consider leaving a radio or TV on so the dog can hear human interaction, and supply him with a few chew toys to ease his need to gnaw.


Stimulating a dog's senses is essential. Exercise, playtime, talking and training are all essential. A bored dog will become destructive to himself and his surroundings. Nail biting is a common sign of boredom. Supply the pet with interactive play toys when dog or human interaction isn't possible.

Poor Grooming

Some dogs chew on their nails simply because they need to be trimmed. Visit the vet's office, a grooming salon or invest in a dog nail clippers. The nails should be kept trimmed to just above the quick. Have a vet or grooming salon show you how to do this task if you wish to maintain the dog's nails at home. Overgrown nails lead to cracks, chips and more nail chewing from your dog.