Do you think your dog is licking his paws too much?
Occasional paw licking is a normal part of a dog’s self-grooming routine and isn’t anything to worry about. But what does it mean when dogs lick and chew their paws excessively? If your dog is licking or chewing his paws a lot, this could indicate a health or behavioral problem. We’ll help you figure out what may be causing your dog’s paw licking and when it’s time for a vet visit.
Why does my dog keep licking its paws?
There are specific reasons for this behavior, and it is up to you as pet parent to try to figure out what the problem may be. If the behavior appears suddenly, continues for an extended period of time, or is accompanied by bleeding, swelling, limping, or odour, the best thing to do is to speak to your Vet.
You don’t want to let your dog’s paw-licking get out of hand. Sometimes, it can become an addicting habit that is difficult to eradicate. Dogs who lick their paws excessively often develop swelling and stains on the fur of their feet. Sometimes, excessive licking may cause moisture to become trapped between the dog’s toes, creating an ideal setting for an opportunistic infection.
There are lots of reasons that your dog could be licking his paws more than usual, so we’ll go through the most common ones here.
Chronic licking is usually attributed to allergies, and these can come from just about anything. It could be their food, flowers, your carpet-cleaning products, candles, grass, medicine, or something else. For example, if your dog licks their paws after walking, the itching could be caused by pesticides in the grass or by a particular weed.
Common ingredients that cause allergic reactions include beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, and soy. They may also be allergic to artificial additives. Have your vet run a food allergy test, avoid cheap commercial foods, and try to feed them an all-natural diet and add superfoods.
Remedies for Dog Allergies:
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– Clean your dog’s feet with a wet wipe after each walk to prevent further irritation.
– Vacuum often or limit your dog to non-carpeted areas. Wash your dog’s bedding weekly
– Use King Klean Organic Dog Shampoo. Lemongrass is natural cleanser, known to revitalise the mind and soul while providing antibacterial, anti-fungal and pest deterrent properties. Shop now here!
Anxiety, Boredom or Habit
Some dogs will lick and chew at their feet because of anxiety, boredom or habit. You may notice that your dog licks more during thunderstorms, firework shows, or when left alone – which makes it more likely to be anxiety.
Anxious dogs often seek relief by licking themselves excessively. Possible causes of anxiety vary and range from separation issues to obsessive-compulsive disorders. In this sense, paw-licking or chewing in dogs may be similar to human nail-biting.
Just like humans, a dog’s mental health is still health, and it’s important to do what we can to identify and treat anxiety and boredom. Repetitive licking may seem like a minor sign compared to destroying the house, but over time they can damage themselves, and get difficult-to-treat sores called Lick Granulomas. It is still not completely understood whether lick granulomas are triggered by anxiety or if they are the cause of anxiety. It’s a “chicken or egg” scenario.
How to prevent anxiety boredom in dogs
– First of all, lots of cuddles and kisses every day, any time
– Don’t leave your dog at home alone for long periods of time.
– If you must leave your dog alone, give them a treat-filled Kong to keep them occupied.
– Give your dog frequent opportunities to play and exercise.
– Take your dog for a walk or play fetch at the park for at least 30 minutes each day.
– Allow your pup to socialise with other people and other dogs
– Don’t keep your dog confined to a crate or tied up in the backyard.
– Swap their traditional food bowls for puzzle feeders to exercise their mental health.
Injury to pad or claw
You’ve heard the expression “licking your wounds”. Dogs live by it.
Dogs will pay particular attention to a foot if it’s injured in some way. This type of licking usually comes on suddenly after a walk or playing in the garden. It is also usually confined to one foot – unless your dog has been unlucky enough to damage several feet at once. Other signs you might notice are limping, spots of blood, or crying in pain. Please be aware that some dogs can behave unpredictably when they are injured and may lash out without thinking.
If your dog doesn’t mind you looking, the important place to check is the claws (all of them, but especially the dew claw); dogs may rip and break claws whilst playing. You should also look between the toes and between the pads for any sign of injury. Once you know where the injury is, how big it is, and whether it’s bleeding or not – it’s time to call your vet.
Similar to an injury, dogs will also lick repetitively if they have a foreign object in their paws. The most common example is grass seeds, which work their way under the skin and burrow a tunnel. Other examples include nails, thorns, and bits of glass. This is really irritating and uncomfortable. Dogs are often insistent that they need to lick the area; unfortunately, they rarely manage to remove the foreign object themselves.
The problem is best treated as soon as it’s noticed. Hopefully when any foreign body is still near the surface rather than having worked its way inside.
If your dog is older, or has a history of injury, one of the causes for foot-licking might surprise you. Dogs that are arthritic sometimes lick the sore joint, almost in an effort to soothe it. You may notice they’re licking their wrists rather than their paws, although they can lick any joint that’s sore. Dogs with arthritis may limp or appear stiff, especially first thing after rising from a nap.
A dog that is experiencing pain due to arthritis or other foot or leg conditions may lick his paws. Even if the pain is somewhere else in their body, some dogs will try to deal with it by licking a front paw continuously.
Just like humans, dogs can get dry skin. This could be due to cold winter weather or a lack of fatty acids in your dog’s diet. Over-bathing is also a common culprit as it strips hair of natural oils. Constant paw licking can cause chapped feet, which worsens the irritation and compounds the problem.
Moisturising to Protect
Make sure your dog’s paws stay protected with moisturising balm. Dog paw moisturiser can help prevent cracked paws, inflammation, and skin irritation, among other conditions that may lead to severe health problems.
If your dog only licks their paws during the winter, then the cause may be deicing salts.
The salts used to melt ice on driveways and roads can lead to chemical burns on your dog’s feet. You should keep a bowl of warm water and a towel near the door so you can wash your pup’s feet off after walks and prevent them from ingesting the toxic salts.
If your dog is struggling with fleas, mites, or other parasites then it will likely be experiencing very sensitive skin, including that on its paws. In these cases, your dog will lick their paws to provide some relief from the parasite bites.
Why are my dog’s feet pink?
Dogs with white or light fur that repetitively lick their paws will often get orange-pink-brown staining to their paws. This is a sure sign they’ve been licking at them more than necessary. The staining is from porphyrin, which is present in canine saliva. Constant, repetitive licking means the saliva is left on the fur, where it dries and leaves the pigment. If your dog has one or more pink-coloured feet, it’s a good idea to investigate further to find out why.