Sure - dogs can chew bones, socks and our shoes... but chewing is one of the most important signs of itching when dogs use their teeth to bite at itchy areas. As with itching in people- a little is ok, a lot is not! Excess chewing (or any type of itching) causes trauma to the skin and further increases inflammation. This commonly leads to secondary infection (bacteria & yeast overgrowth) on the skin’s surface. Secondary infection also worsens inflammation and itching leading to a type of type of vicious circle.
The pattern of chewing is important. Observe what areas your pet chews (“corncob chewing of the front legs, feet or tail/rump area?) and what time of day it occurs. See if you can observe any association with going outside or exposure to certain foods. All of these details can be important. Listed below are common causes of chewing/itching. Although most commonly caused by itch, chewing can also be a sign of pain or less commonly a sign of behavioral disease.
- Environmental allergies (Atopic Dermatitis)
- Flea allergy
- Food allergy
- Bacterial infection (Pyoderma) or Yeast infection (Malassezia dermatitis)
For additional information please see the following articles: