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Why do Dogs chew?

Every dog chews, but if you have noticed your dog chews a lot, you may be wondering why.  You may even be wondering if it’s because she has some kind of medical or behavioral problem.  There are actually a lot of reasons why dogs chew, and why some dogs chew more than others.  Some of the reasons are a cause for concern, and some of them aren’t. 


Here are a few innocuous reasons your dog may chew more than average:


  • You may have a breed that does a lot of chewing, like a Jack Russell Terrier or a Golden Retriever.  Dogs like these will chew on practically anything.


  • It may be a “personality thing” with your particular dog.


  • If your dog is a puppy, he may be teething.  Teething is a painful process, and the chewing action helps to relieve the discomfort.  Puppies need to chew extra for just that reason.


  • Puppies also explore the world around them using their mouths, so chewing is a normal part of that.


Here are some problematic reasons why your dog may be chewing so much:


  • Your pet may have a behavioral problem, which could require that you enlist the help of a pet psychologist.


  • Your dog could be extremely bored. 


  • Dogs with separation anxiety or are desperate for attention may chew a lot in order to get that attention.


  • Several medical problems may also be the cause of chewing issues.  If your dog is chewing on her feet, it could indicate that there is a wounded paw, a tick, a cyst, or an allergy or infection to blame.  Several internal medical issues may also cause chewing, including intestinal parasites and nutritional deficiencies.


If your dog is doing a lot of chewing and is not a puppy or a breed that tends to do that, then it is important to try to figure out why it is happening.  That is the only way you can rule out a medical or psychological cause that needs your attention, and also the only way you can be sure that your pet is happy. 


These are the steps you should take:


  1. Check your dog’s paws for any visible signs of trauma.  You may be able to identify the problem right away and treat it at home—for example a wounded paw or a tick you can easily remove.


  1. If you cannot visibly determine the cause of the chewing, it is time for a visit to your veterinarian.  That way your vet can rule out parasites and other potentially dangerous health conditions.


  1. Hide objects you do not want your dog to be chewing on or which may be unsafe to her.


  1. If the vet does not find anything medically wrong, you need to figure out if there might be any underlying psychological problems.  If you suspect behavioral problems that you are unable to address on your own, see a pet psychologist for help.


  1. Ask yourself whether something you are doing or not doing could be causing the excessive chewing.  Could you be showing your dog more attention?  Are you giving him enough time to exercise and play?  Does he have enough toys and activities to keep him entertained?  If necessary, buy some chew-proof dog toys and make more time for your pet.  While you are at it, a chew-proof dog bed and other indestructible dog supplies can help. 


  1. Retrain your dog to stop chewing on things you do not want him to.  Taste deterrents like Grannick’s Bitter Apple® are good for this. 


It may take a while for you to get to the bottom of the matter and figure out what is causing your pet to chew everything in sight, but it is worth the extra time and expense.  Chewing is often a sign of physical discomfort or psychological unhappiness, and it is your job as your dog’s owner and best pal to make sure that he is happy and healthy.  So pay attention to excessive chewing in an adult dog, and any new chewing behaviors that you have never encountered in the past.  They may be trying to tell you something. 


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