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Why Does My Dog Chew His Nails: 5 Reasons Why!

Dogs always use their tongue and teeth for everything they do.

It could be for cleaning themselves, or it could be for itching.

However, you may discover your dog gnawing his nails on occasion.

Why does my dog chew his nails?

It could be for cleaning themselves, or it could be for itching. There are many reasons for your dog to chew on his nails. Usually, it’s because your dog has a broken or overgrown nail. They can be uncomfortable. The other reasons might include different infections, disorders, and cyst formation.

These are all the possible reasons your dog might chew his nails for.

However, if you’re looking for more information, you’ll need to read through the whole article. 

Dog Chews His Nails for 5 Major Reasons

There could be many reasons for your dog to chew on his nails.

It might be due to some illness. Or maybe because they’ve outgrown their space.

We’ll go through each of the reasons in detail below.

Let’s get straight to it without any further ado:

Reason 1: Overgrown or Broken Nails

Nails growing too long for dogs are pretty standard. And as soon as their nails grow too long, they start chewing on them. You might even notice them scratching their nails on the floor. 

To prevent this, keep your dog’s nails trimmed regularly. Check on the nails weekly to ensure they haven’t grown too big. 

If your dog has broken nails, that’s when the problem becomes real. Broken nails will make your dog irritated. These broken nails might even cause injuries to your dog. 

Overgrown nails tend to break quite often too. If you notice broken nails, fix them as soon as possible. 

Overgrown nails can, at times, curve around their paws. That cannot be very pleasant for your dog. 

See a vet urgently if you notice your dog breaking or losing nails. It happens due to a condition called Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO)

It’s a rare condition, and you should get it looked at as soon as possible. 

Reason 2: Infections

Dogs can chew on their nails for infections as well. But what type of infection? There are several types of diseases, such as bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. 

Let’s go over how each one might affect your dog-

Bacterial Infection

A bacterial infection is pretty easy to identify. All you have to do is to seek a few distinct signs. Like if the nail is fractured or it’s swollen, or blood is oozing around the nails. Then you have to understand that it’s a bacterial infection. 

Your dog might lick another dog’s ears and then licks his paws. That might as well cause bacterial infection. The bacteria will transfer if the other dog has bacteria in its ears. 

Look out for such things if your dog is gnawing on its nails. Now, if you see only one broken nail, it’s due to trauma. It’s not a bacterial infection. 

But if more than one nail is affected, you should contact a vet. Due to this, your dog might also have a fever and sudden changes in mood. 

Fungal Infection

Fungal infections often affect your dog’s nails due to yeast paronychia or dermatophytes. They don’t have a broad area effect, though, usually 1-2 nails. 

The affected nails will either become very soft or as rough as sandpaper. 

Even ringworms affect your dog’s nails sometimes. If you notice hair loss or rash, understand that it’s ringworms. 

Parasitic Infections

Infections with parasites cause your dog’s nails to grow unnaturally. They might grow too long, or they might grow curved. Any of these situations may irritate your dog.

A common parasite that affects the nails is the Demodex mite. These mites live on the skin casually. They cause a pretty common disease called demodicosis. 

But they don’t do any harm unless your dog is weakened. This is frequently linked to another illness. The mites populate the skin, causing irregular nail growth. 

On the other hand, if your dog is affected by hookworms, its nails will grow too fast. Another parasite named Leishmania parasite will cause the nails to curve and thicken. 

Keep an eye out for these signs if you see your dog gnawing on its nails. The chances that it could be a type of infection are pretty high. 

Reason 3: Interdigital Cysts

Interdigital Cysts or Furuncles is a disease of the hair follicle. It goes pretty deep inside the skin and forms puss. This usually happens around the nails because that’s where it’s the dirtiest. 

Dogs get upset like any human would be irritated by something like that. When these cysts form around the nails, they start chewing on them. 

It’s pretty easy to identify those cysts. They swell like pimples and look quite red. 

They aren’t that dangerous. You don’t have to panic. You don’t have to go to the veterinarian. You can heal this without even going to the vet. You need regular cleaning for this. 

Soaking the cysts in Epsom salt works pretty well too.

Here’s a list of brands of Epsom Salts that you can use for your dog:

Product 1
Product 2

Use one of these Epsom Salts to get the maximum results. 

Reason 4: Anxiety

You’ve already learned that dogs can have compulsive disorders. As a result, it should come as no surprise that they sometimes experience anxiety. 

One of the reasons dogs develops compulsive disorders is due to anxiety. Chewing on their nails is a sign of it. And when a dog is anxious, they are fidgety. 

Dogs can develop anxiety due to phobias and confinement. Even separation from a closed one can lead to this. Dogs lick the air sometimes to communicate their concern. 

If you don’t see anything wrong with the nails, understand that your dog is anxious. And that’s why he’s chewing on his nails. 

Reason 5: Compulsive Disorder

Yes, compulsive disorders can occur in dogs as well. Dogs have a mind too. They can even feel lonely sometimes.  

You can identify your dog’s compulsive disorder by looking out for frantic behaviors. If your dog behaves frantically too much and repeatedly, it’s a sign of compulsive disorder. 

A dog usually portrays such behaviors when they are too stressed or anxious. However, this is not a regular occurrence. 

Your dog will develop this disorder due to loneliness, partner loss, abuse, etc. 

These are just about all the reasons dogs chew on their nails. When your dog becomes too tired from chewing, he might fall asleep with his tongue out


Is it unsafe for dogs to bite their nails?

No, your dog cannot bite or chew on its nails. If you see your dog biting its nails, check if there’s anything wrong with the nails. 

How can I get my dog to stop biting its nails?

Dogs bite their nails for quite a few reasons. It might be anything from an accident to an illness. It would help if you treated it by the cause. 

Is it okay to use human shampoo on my dog?

No, human shampoo should not be used on dogs. Human shampoos are harsher than dog shampoos. They can make their skin rough.