Reasons dog lick paws
Dogs lick themselves as part of their self-grooming process. This is entirely natural, and a dog will lick its paws to keep them clean. However, a dog may also persistently lick its paws for a variety of reasons that need to be investigated and treated.
If your dog suddenly starts licking a particular paw intensely, it may be due to some kind of injury. Dogs often irritate or injure their paws by stepping on something sharp, such as a thorn. It may have also stepped on a bee and been stung or bruised its paw pads by walking on a hot surface.
Examine your dog’s paws, including the top of the feet, the nails, between the toes, and between the pads. You may find a stone or thorn stuck between the pads or notice a cut or bruise that has been causing your dog discomfort. In many cases, you can relieve the problem with some home remedies. If the injury is more serious, however, or the dog continues to lick the paw after you have treated it, you will have to take the dog to a veterinarian.
Fleas are another major source of irritation for dogs and may cause your pet to excessively lick its paws. There are a variety of over-the-counter medications for fleas that you can use, but if the problem persists, obtain stronger medicine from your vet. Parasites may cause mange, which will also make the dog’s paws very itchy. Your vet will be able to treat your dog to get rid of the mites that are causing the problem.
Another skin condition that can cause itching in the dog’s paws is dermatitis. Dermatitis is usually caused by an allergic reaction to flea bites, different food items, or inhaled substances such as pollen, dust, and mold spores. Your dog may also be allergic to certain types of grass, weeds, chemicals, or other products. You should work together with your vet to discover the source of the allergy and treat the dog’s dermatitis. Washing off your dog’s feet before it comes inside could alleviate its discomfort.
If your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy, the vet will put it on a hypoallergenic diet or a special diet where certain ingredients are excluded. It is difficult to pinpoint the food items that are triggering the allergy, but if the new diet works, sticking to it will cause the itching to stop. Getting to the root of the problem with a dog that is allergic to food is made trickier by the fact that dogs may become allergic to items that they were fine with before. If you can’t uncover the allergen, your vet can do allergy testing, but a hypoallergenic diet usually does the trick. There are a number of diets at pet stores for food allergic dogs. Alternatively, your vet will design one for you.
Arthritis or some other foot or leg condition may be causing your dog pain and discomfort, causing it to incessantly lick its foot. An injury or pain in some other part of its body may also cause the dog to lick its paws in an effort to deal with the pain. A vet will have to diagnose and treat your dog in those instances.
If your dog’s constant licking continues, the cause could be a mental issue. Like humans, dogs can suffer from a range of mental problems. Your dog may be licking its paw as a way of alleviating anxiety, as licking reduces stress hormone levels in a dog’s body. Dogs also develop anxiety as they get older due to a decline in cognitive ability. Separation or fear of some external factor, such as noise, may cause the dog to develop anxiety. Anxious dogs will also exhibit other signs such as crying, barking, aggression, panting, urination, and defecation. Dogs can also suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder and may compulsively lick their feet.
Give your dog plenty of loving company to reduce its stress. If the cause of its stress is an external factor, take steps to ensure that it is not bothered by it. If you suspect that your dog is licking its paws due to a mental issue, you may want to consult an animal behaviorist.
It is also possible that the dog is licking its paws because it is bored. Active and working breeds such as German shepherds and border collies need stimulation and quickly become bored if they are restricted to a small yard for most of the day. With no outlet for their pent-up energy and with no stimulation for their intelligent minds, these dogs become frustrated and sometimes develop compulsive behavior, including constant licking of the paws.
Try to give your dog an outlet for its mental and physical energy. Take it for long walks. Many working dogs were bred to travel long distances and have a great need for extensive exercise. Being able to exercise their bodies fully can go a long way to solving their neuroses.
Knowing when the dog is licking its paws too much
Dogs lick themselves, including their paws, as part of their grooming routine. Grooming allows them to remove the dirt and debris that they collect throughout the day. As dog saliva has antibacterial properties that also help them keep infections at bay and allow them to deal naturally with small cuts and wounds.
However, most owners can tell when their dog is licking its paws to an abnormal or excessive degree. If the dog is paying much more attention to a particular paw, that is a clear sign that there is something wrong with that paw.
If your dog is licking its paws excessively, it may start to lose hair in a particular spot. The area might turn red and look raw. All these are signs that something is amiss. You need to attend to the underlying issues that are causing your dog to lick its paw incessantly.
Top remedies for obsessive paw licking
If your dog is obsessively licking its paws, it may be a problem that you can take care of at home. Before taking your dog to a veterinarian, therefore, you should check your dog.
To begin with, examine the paw that the dog is licking. Minor cuts, bruises, and wounds can often cause a dog to lick the paw constantly. They can also cause the paw to become infected, so it is important that any problems are found and treated. Make sure you examine the paw pad as well as the between the toes and the area between the toes and pad. Splinters and thorns can be difficult to see, so you may want to gently feel between the paw pads with your finger.
If your dog has a deep cut or a wound that is infected, you will have to take it to the vet. However, you can treat minor cuts and wounds yourself. First, wash the wound with warm water and soap, patting it dry thoroughly with a towel. You can apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound. If your dog is likely to lick it off, consider putting his foot in some form of protective footwear to prevent him from doing so.
If your dog doesn’t have a cut on its paw, it is possible that fleas are causing its paw to itch. Since fleas not only cause itching but are also a source of dog worms, including tapeworm, and commonly cause allergic reactions, it is always a good idea to ensure that your dog is completely free of fleas. If your dog has only a few fleas, you can usually treat the dog with a good flea spray that will kill most of the fleas on your dog’s body.
If the fleas are more pervasive, however, you may also have to bathe the dog with a flea shampoo. This will kill and wash away most of the fleas on the dog’s body. You can follow it up with a flea spray. Other medications that will get rid of all the fleas on your dog include flea-killing pills and tablets that you can purchase from a pet store.
Once you have gotten rid of all the fleas, you should take preventive measures to ensure the fleas don’t return. Flea collars are a great way to give your dog extended protection. You can also use flea sprays to target any problem areas. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean your home as there is a good chance that your house is full of flea eggs and larvae. This should include cleaning all the furniture, mopping the floors, and washing all your dog’s bedding and toys. It’s a good idea to use a flea spray throughout your house to prevent fleas from invading in the first place. There are several high-quality, environmentally friendly ones that you can select. By this stage, your dog and house should be completely free of fleas, but don’t neglect to give your dog weekly inspections to ensure that the parasites have not returned.
The dog may be suffering from a food allergy. In consultation with your vet, you can try feeding your dog an elimination diet. This consists of a simple diet, such as brown rice and boiled chicken. The diet should be maintained for a couple of weeks or until the constant licking stops. Once this happens, you can slowly start adding food items back to its diet, one at a time. If the symptoms return, you know that ingredient is triggering an allergic reaction.
Since this requires a great deal of time and effort, you could try simply switching to another diet and seeing if it helps. Common dog allergens include chicken, soy, and wheat, so they should be avoided when coming up with an alternate diet. If this works, you can switch the dog permanently to the new diet. Many pet stores have pre-made hypoallergenic diets, so you can try one if you prefer.
You could also try switching your dog’s shampoo, especially if it isn’t a high-quality product. Many shampoos are specifically designed to soothe itchy skin. These shampoos typically contain oatmeal and other skin-soothing ingredients that will alleviate the itch and naturally moisturize the skin. Remember not to bathe your dog too frequently as that will cause its skin to get dry, exacerbating the itch.
Your dog may be suffering from an inhalant allergy, where it is allergic to substances such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, or other airborne allergens. If your dog develops itchy feet seasonally, it is a sign that it has an inhalant allergy. Trying to reduce contact with an allergen can often help the dog. A good habit is to wash the dog’s feet whenever it comes from outdoors. This will remove any allergens, such as weed and grass pollen, that are bothering the dog and also ensure that dirt is not irritating its paws. Weekly baths will also remove any allergens from its coat, limiting exposure.
If your dog is licking its paws due to a behavioral issue, such as boredom, you can try spraying the paws with an anti-chewing spray. This spray will leave a bitter aftertaste that will encourage your dog to stop licking. This should only be used if you and your vet have ruled out other health problems as licking is usually the result of a deep-seated issue that needs to be resolved.
Other steps you can take include taking your dog for a long run. This releases feel-good endorphins and also tires out the dog and gives it an outlet for its energies. This is especially important for active, working dog breeds. Make sure that the dog also has an outlet for its mental energies through extensive playtime, obedience training, and toys that will keep it occupied. Chew toys are a great way to get a bored dog to shift its focus from its paws to another object. Make sure that the toys are safe and durable.
Dogs, like humans, are subject to a variety of mental issues such as anxiety, depression, and compulsive behavior. If it appears that the incessant licking is due to a mental problem, you may have to consult an animal behaviorist to find out what is causing the anxiety. Companionship, plenty of play, and positive encouragement can go a long way in alleviating your dog’s problems. It should also have a safe space where it can retreat to feel comfortable and secure. A secure crate can help it feel snug and safe.
Several home remedies can be used to soothe itchy skin. These include tea rinses. Chamomile, dried calendula, green tea, yellow dock, and nettle can be used. Add one tablespoon of the herb to a cup of boiling water. After letting it steep for five minutes, strain it and leave it to completely cool. Soak the dog’s paws in the tea for five to ten minutes. You can also use a soaked cloth to apply the tea to the affected paw twice a day.
Aloe vera is an ingredient that is great for soothing skin. Apply a small amount of it in gel form to the paw to soothe the irritation. A traditional remedy that soothes inflamed skin is cucumber. Grate a cucumber and press it against the irritated skin for five to ten minutes twice a day.
Various supplements are useful for suppressing the allergy symptoms that may be causing your dog to lick its paws. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements and fish oils boost the dog’s immune system and help it to fight allergies. They take time to take effect but are useful for boosting the health of the dog and preventing allergic reactions from recurring. Derived from plants, plant sterols can help dogs that are suffering from environmental allergies. These usually come in tablet form. Probiotic supplements are also great for strengthening the immune system by boosting the beneficial bacteria in the dog’s gut. While many owners feed their dogs probiotic yogurt, it often doesn’t contain sufficient amounts of probiotics to be of therapeutic use. Consequently, you are better off using a special supplement for the purpose.
A great treatment to give as soon as your dog starts licking its feet is antihistamines. These are particularly useful for mild allergies and can often reduce the need to use stronger medicine further down the road. Benadryl, cetirizine, and chlorpheniramine are some of the antihistamines that are prescribed regularly. Check with your vet for the appropriate dosage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do dogs lick their paws and legs?
Dogs lick their paws and legs as part of their normal grooming routine. This ensures that they have got all the dust, dirt, and other debris off their bodies. Their saliva has antibacterial properties and helps in the healing of minor wounds. Dogs also lick their paws out of boredom, simply because they have nothing better to do. They may also do it because they are anxious for some reason, as licking releases endorphins that calm their minds.
Why do dogs lick their paws excessively?
While licking to an extent is normal, excessive licking is indicative of an underlying health issue. Dogs may lick their paws because of some pain and discomfort caused by a cut, wound, or bruise. An external object such as a stone or thorn may be embedded in its pad. In addition, diseases such as arthritis can cause a dog pain, causing it to lick its foot. Furthermore, an allergic reaction caused by fleas, food, or inhalant substances can irritate the foot, leading to excessive licking. A yeast or bacterial infection may also cause excessive licking. Parasites such as fleas and ticks can cause itchy feet. Dogs also lick their paws due to boredom, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Why do dogs bite their paws?
Dogs bite their paws because they are irritating them or they are otherwise experiencing pain and discomfort in their paws. They may be feeling pain in their paws because of some injury. They may also bite their paws because of acute itching. Biting a paw is a sign that something is wrong and should be investigated. However, some dogs do it simply to get attention from their owners, so if it doesn’t happen constantly, it may not be that serious.
Why do dogs lick their paws before going to sleep?
Dogs lick their paws before they go to sleep as part of their grooming routine. Licking also stirs up feel-good hormones, allowing them to drift off to sleep in a positive frame of mind. It is also believed that dogs are reminded of the way their mothers used to groom them when they were puppies, and this serves to put them in a happy mood.
Why do dogs lick their paws until they bleed?
Chronic licking can cause dogs’ paws to bleed. This is a sign that the dog is experiencing severe itching or some other form of discomfort. Since wounds in the paws can get infected, you need to take prompt action to treat the underlying cause.
How do I stop my dog licking its paws?
You can stop a dog from licking its paws by applying an anti-chewing solution that you can buy at a pet store. These solutions are harmless but have a bitter taste and will discourage the dog from licking. You can also buy pet boots that will keep your dog’s paws out of reach. Bear in mind, however, that you also need to treat the underlying reason it is constantly licking its paws.
When should I worry about my dog’s paw licking?
If your dog is licking its paws all day or licking only one paw, it is a sign that something is wrong. If the skin around the paw looks red or starts bleeding, it is clear that excessive licking has damaged the skin. You can try some home remedies, but if they don’t work, take your dog to the veterinarian.