If your dog has a bad habit of nail-biting, it can be annoying. But it could also be a sign that something’s wrong. When a dog biting nails becomes a problem, it’s important that you find out the cause of the issue, so it can be addressed.

Here are some of the more common causes, and some of the things you can do to stop this frustrating behavior.


Your dog might be biting their nails because they have some sort of infection. Your beloved pet might have suffered a paw injury, or they could have some other type of medical issue. The area may itch, and nail-biting is the only way that your dog can find relief.1

There is also a chance your dog has been affected by a parasite. Demodex mites, for example, can cause inflammation in a dog’s nails, causing discomfort. This is a condition known as demodicosis.2

Check your pet’s paws to look for any signs of an infection, such as swelling, bleeding, or oozing. If you see either these signs, get your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.


Dog Biting Nails | Dr MartyIf your dog is biting their nails, anxiety could be the cause. Just as some humans chew their nails when they’re nervous, some dogs will do the same thing. Your dog could be stressed out from a change in their regular routine, and could start chewing their nails. Separation anxiety can, in some cases, cause nail-biting. Your dog could be experiencing stress because you’ve left them alone all day while you’re at work, for example.3

If you think your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, take them to the veterinarian. Your vet may be able to recommend an animal behaviorist who could help your dog get through this problem.


There are times were the cause of a dog biting nails is an allergy. It could be that some sort of outdoor allergen has become attached to your dog’s nails. This causes itching, which could lead to nail chewing. A condition known as atopy, a type of allergy, will often affect the paws. Dogs with atopy (also known as atopic dermatitis) will, in many instances, continually chew their nails and lick their paws.4


If a dog is bored, they may exhibit any one of a number of troubling behaviors. Bored dogs may, for example, chew up furniture or shoes. They may try to get out of the yard. And boredom can also lead to a dog chewing nails.5

If you have to be away from home during the day, make sure your dog has plenty of toys to keep them occupied. You might also want to consider taking your pet for a walk or a run around the yard before you leave for work. If your dog is tired and happy, there might be less of a chance they’ll get bored to the point of nail-biting.

Dog Biting Nails | Dr MartyIt’s Time for Your Pup to Be Groomed

A dog biting nails problem could be as simple as your pup’s nails being too long. If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, they need to be trimmed. You can find nail trimmers at just about any pet store. But if you are not 100 percent sure you’d be able to trim your dog’s nails safely and effectively, leave that job to a professional groomer.

Keeping a Dog from Biting Nails

If you have any reason to believe your dog is biting his or her nails due to a medical problem, it’s time to see your vet. If the problem is severe, your dog might be fitted with an Elizabethan collar until whatever is causing the problem clears up. If the issue is behavioral, see if your vet can recommend a specialist who can determine the best course of action to stop it.

Wrapping it Up

A dog biting nails can be a very troubling experience. If your dog has this bad habit, there could be a medical cause. Take them to the vet to determine the best way of dealing with this problem.

Learn More:
Hypoallergenic Dog Food: Is it Right for Your Pooch?
The Yellow Dog Project (what is it!?)
Do Dogs Need Beds? (surprising benefits of dog beds)