Owning a Beagle means becoming an expert at keeping things under lock and key. Perhaps your Beagle frequently chews his paws. Is this yet another quirk peculiar to all Beagles, or could there be something wrong? Dog behavior can sometimes perplex us and leave us scratching our heads in wonder. Undertaking a thorough study of the breed, its history, and specific characteristics can help us to better understand the motivations behind why our dogs do what they do. Is chewing paws a normal Beagle behavior, or does Fido need a little one on one time with his favorite canine doctor?
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The Root of the Behavior
Today's Beagles find their pack consists of people. For this reason, your Beagle wants to be where you are at all times. Though they may not understand their compulsion to do so, they are drawn to be near you and to seek direction from you. So, when it comes to chewing paws, what does all of this mean? Could any of these traits be the culprit behind your Beagle's nightly chewing activity? Though there is nothing in the Beagle's genetic makeup to suggest that he is more prone to paw chewing than any other dog breed, there are many reasons why dogs chew their paws. For some dogs, allergies play a critical role in constant skin licking or chewing. Allergies can come in the form of food sensitivities or even reactions to environmental stimuli. If your Beagle is suffering from allergies, he is likely chewing his paws to relieve the itch. The most common cause of allergies in dogs is an autoimmune response to specific proteins. If you suspect your Beagle might be experiencing a negative reaction to the food he is eating, it might be time to head to your veterinary clinic to formulate a new plan for Fido's food. Your veterinarian can also perform a skin scraping to assess the condition of the skin and rule out any potential allergens. In the absence of any relief from the switching of foods, your veterinarian can also prescribe topical shampoos or oral medications to alleviate the symptoms of allergies and eliminate the chewing.
Encouraging the Behavior
Of course, licking and chewing behaviors can sometimes be indicative of pain. Because our dogs are masters at disguising when something hurts, Fido might be doing a very good job of acting like it's business as usual. But chewing paws is never a normal canine behavior. It is always indicative that there is something else going on that you need to get to the bottom of. A thorough examination by your veterinarian can help you to pinpoint the source of the problem and provide a course of action for treatment. For some dogs, being away from their owners feels like the end of the world. These dogs suffer from separation anxiety. When a dog feels stressed or anxious by the absence of their owners, it can lead to extreme behaviors. These behaviors can include destruction of property and even self-mutilation. Chewing paws is one of the less troubling coping mechanisms seen in dogs struggling with this condition, but it can easily lead to obsessive behavior that is very harmful both physically and mentally for your pet. If your Beagle struggles with separation anxiety, consult with a professional dog trainer who can assist you in beginning behavior modification therapy to help to ease Fido's stresses when you cannot be with him. Fido might also benefit from anti-anxiety medication from your veterinarian.
Other Solutions and Considerations
While you work on behavior modification techniques, you must prevent Fido from continuing with this action. As with all nuisance behaviors, the pattern must be broken. There are a number of tools that you can use to prevent paw chewing in your Beagle. Among the most popular items are making use of Bitter Apple, a spray with an off-putting taste, on your dog's paws, or applying an Elizabethan collar to your dog's neck to keep him away from his feet. Both of these options merely eliminate opportunity but may not be completely effective for determined dogs. Avoid putting substances such as coconut oil on your dog's paws to speed in the healing process. If your dog likes the taste of it, he will lick all the more, thus exacerbating the problem.