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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? 

There are a bunch of reasons for your dog to chew on his nails. Usually, it’s because your dog has a broken nail or an overgrown nail. They can be really uncomfortable. The other reasons might include different types of infections, disorders, and cysts 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 a number of 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 quite common. 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 on a regular basis. Check on the nails every week to make sure 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, make sure to fix them as soon as possible. 

Overgrown nails can at times curve around their paws. That can be pretty annoying for your dog. 

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

It’s a pretty 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 infections 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 maybe blood is oozing around the nails. Then you have to understand that it’s a bacterial infection. 

Your dog might lick ears of another dog, then licks his paws. If the other dog has bacteria in its ears, the bacteria will transfer. That might as well cause bacterial infection. 

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

But if more than one nail is affected, then 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 wide area effect though, usually 1-2 nails. 

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

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 cause irritation to your dog.

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

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

On the other hand, if your dog is affected by hookworms their 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. 

Just like any human would be irritated by something like that, dogs get irritated too. When these cysts form around the nails, they start chewing on the nails. 

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 just need regular cleaning for this. 

Soaking the cysts in epsom salt works pretty good 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. 

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

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

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 too repeatedly, it’s a sign of compulsive disorder. 

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

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

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


Question: Is it unsafe for dogs to bite their nails?

Answer: No, it’s not particularly safe for your dog to bite or chew on their nails. If you see your dog biting its nails, check if there’s anything wrong with the nails. 

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

Answer: Dogs bite their nails for quite a few reasons. It might be anything from an accident to an illness. You must treat it in accordance with the cause. 

Question: Is it okay to use human shampoo on my dog?

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


Now you have the answer to your question “why does my dog chew his nails”. We hope you found this article useful.

We tried to help you out with all the resources that we could. However, if the issue seems to be severe, make an appointment with your veterinarian. 

Good luck!