Why does my dog continuously lick his paws? It’s natural for dogs to spend time grooming and licking themselves, but it’s not normal for your dog to lick their feet and toes to the point where you want to scream.
Some dogs lick and bite their paws so much that the fur is worn away and bleeding occurs, leaving the dog vulnerable to infection and other issues. But why does he do it, and more importantly, how can you stop him?
Why does my dog continuously lick his paws?
If your dog is licking his paws excessively, it might be due to an injury, skin issues such as dry, itchy skin, allergies, fleas or ticks, anxiousness, or even because his nails are too long and causing him to walk with uncomfortable toes.
Whatever the cause, you must address the issue before your dog’s licking becomes a problem in and of itself. Some dogs develop a licking addiction and utilize it to calm themselves; once established, the practice can be difficult to quit. Lets find below some valid reasons why does my dog continuously lick his paws
1. Problems with the Gastrointestinal System
Dogs who lick their paws excessively may have gastrointestinal problems. A large number of dogs with aberrant licking had gastrointestinal difficulties, according to clinical research published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
Excessive licking was observed in 19 dogs, which were compared to 10 healthy canines. The dogs were subjected to abdominal ultrasounds, endoscopic examinations, and stomach and duodenum biopsies in addition to medical and behavioral histories and a full physical and neurological evaluation.
14 of the 19 licking dogs were discovered to have a GI disorder, such as lymphocytic-plasmacytic infiltration, chronic pancreatitis, or a gastric foreign body, according to the study.
2. Pain in the Feet
The most obvious reason your dog is licking his feet excessively is that he has a foot injury and is in pain, especially if he is just licking one foot.
If your dog suddenly starts licking their paws, it could be a sign of pain or irritation, especially if it’s only one paw. If the licking is restricted to one paw, the source of the problem is most likely on that paw.
Bug bites, thorns, small wounds, small pieces of embedded glass, broken nails, and other common causes include insect bites, thorns, small wounds, small pieces of embedded glass, broken nails, and so on.
You may also observe that your dog walks with a limp.
Examine for foreign things, ripped nails, too long nails, sprains, fractures, cuts, bug or animal bites, and, if required, consult your veterinarian.
Don’t ignore it if you don’t see anything. As quickly as possible, take your pet to the veterinarian. If the licking is accompanied by limping, there could be something more serious going on, such as a muscle sprain or some form of inflammation or fracture.
3. Displacement Behavior
Paw-licking in dogs can be a form of displacement behavior. When dogs are confronted with a disagreement, they engage in out-of-context activities that appear to be unconnected to the current circumstance.
When a person feels moderately agitated and unsure how to proceed in a scenario, they may chew on a pen or twist a ring on their finger, and canines may lick for similar reasons.
A dog I was boarding and training recently kept nibbling on her right paw. Interestingly, she chewed her paws the most when she was upset about something.
When her toy fell on the floor, for example, it happened every time. It also happened when she couldn’t get something she really wanted. Her paw chewing improved substantially with training and impulse control exercises, and the apparent discoloration on her paw vanished.
4. Hormonal Disruption
When a dog’s hormones are out of whack, he or she either produces too much cortisol (which can lead to Cushing’s disease) or not enough thyroid hormone (which can cause hypothyroidism).
It can make a dog more susceptible to skin problems like red patches, baldness, and brittle hair. A secondary infection can occur if you lick these inflamed red spots or bald patches.
5. Cold Weather and Deicing Salts
Deicing salts or hurting paws produced by ice balls could be the culprit if your dog only licks his paws in the winter.
Chemical Burns: Deicing salts, which are used to melt ice on driveways and roadways, can cause chemical burns on your dog’s feet. When going outside in the winter, avoid places that have been treated with deicing agents or provide your pet with boots to wear.
Keep a bowl of warm water and a towel at the door so you can wash your dog’s feet after walks and avoid their consuming the poisonous salts.
When the snow gets entangled in your dog’s fur, ice balls can form between his hairy toes. It can cause cracking, bleeding, and hair tugging, which are all unpleasant.
During the winter, keep the hair between the pads and toes clipped short. If your dog has a lot of hair, there are techniques to prevent ice balls from forming, such as applying Crisco between the pads and into the fur.
6. Allergies and Medical Problems
Allergies, whether external (from something they’ve stepped through) or internal (from their food), are frequently the cause of constant foot licking.
Allergies, which can be caused by almost anything, are commonly blamed for chronic licking. It could be something as simple as their food, pesticides in your yard, carpet-cleaning products, weeds, grass, medicine, or something else entirely.
If your dog licks his or her paws after a stroll, the itching could be due to chemicals in the grass or a certain weed. To avoid further irritation, wipe your dog’s feet with a moist wipe after each walk.
You may notice other symptoms such as stinky, irritated ears or itchy skin in other locations if the cause is an environmental allergy or a yeast infection.
Food allergies can be difficult to diagnose, so you may need assistance from your veterinarian to identify the source of the problem and adjust your dog’s diet to bring relief.
It might be a frustrating process to figure out what’s causing the itching. It may take a lot of detective work to figure out what your dog is allergic to, so instead of just giving your dog antihistamines, have your vet run a blood test so you can address the main source of the problem.
A bad diet could be to blame if you feel you have a yeast infection. Changing your dog’s food based on your vet’s instructions is sometimes the simplest treatment for hair loss and itching caused by a yeast infection. Make sure to feed high-quality foods that are high in certain nutrients and vitamins that are good for the gut and skin.
Excessive licking is a common coping mechanism for anxious dogs. Separation concerns to obsessive-compulsive disorders are all possible causes of anxiety. Paw-licking or chewing in dogs may be analogous to human nail-biting in this regard.
Before going to bed, some dogs lick their paws or lick themselves to sleep. This is simply their way of unwinding and calming down. This form of paw-licking should not be a cause for concern if there is no redness or swelling.
Anxiety in Dogs: What Causes It?
- Inadequate physical activity
- Long durations of separation from the owner
Dogs may lick themselves raw and develop unattractive ulcers known as “lick granuloma” if licking becomes habitual and excessive. It’s still unclear if lick granulomas are caused by anxiety or are provoked by it. It’s a case of “chicken or egg.”
8. Skin That Is Dry
Over-bathing or a cold, dry environment can cause dry skin, which is generally a breed-specific condition.
Because they lack a natural protection that hair provides, hairless breeds are more susceptible to a range of skin diseases. The Chinese Crested, Xoloitzcuintli, and American Hairless Terrier are among the breeds that fall into this category.
Dry Skin in Cold and Dry Climates: Dogs living in cold and dry climates are prone to dry skin. If this is the case, consult your veterinarian about a natural dog lotion or oil that will help reduce the dryness. If you’re worried about oils making a mess in the house, try giving your dog high-quality vitamins and oil supplements as a dry-skin treatment.
Bathing Habits: If your dog has dry skin that isn’t caused by the weather or its breed, you should avoid over-bathing and using harsh soaps.
9. Ticks or fleas
Fleas and ticks produce intense itching, which can lead to excessive licking and chewing of the paws. If your dog is allergic to fleas, the situation can become considerably worse.
Make careful to get rid of fleas in your residence in addition to utilizing insecticides and flea treatment. There are non-toxic ways to get rid of fleas and prevent them from returning if your pet is allergic to cleaning agents or over-the-counter treatments.
If you still can’t figure out why your dog keeps licking his feet, it could be due to boredom or anxiousness.
Some breeds are predisposed to anxiety illnesses such as separation anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders, and self-soothing through foot licking becomes a way for them to cope.
Paw licking relieves boredom in dogs that are left alone for lengthy periods of time, especially if they are tethered or kept up in small yards with nothing to do.
Ensure that your dog spends quality time with other dogs and humans on a regular basis, that you provide toys and difficult activities for him, that you give him plenty of exercise and space to run around, and that you tell him how much you love him.
For dogs, modern times have produced an environment of ennui. Dogs are routinely left at home in a small yard—or worse, a crate—for many hours a day, when they were once used to walking, hunting, and scavenging.
High-energy dogs may grow frustrated and indulge in destructive behavior, such as licking and chewing their paws excessively.
How to Keep Dogs From Being Bored
- Leave your dog alone at home for extended periods of time.
- If you have to leave your dog alone, offer them a Kong packed with treats to keep them busy.
- Allow your dog to play and exercise on a regular basis.
- At least 30 minutes a day, take your dog for a walk or play fetch at the park.
- Allow your dog to interact with other people and dogs (if well-socialized).
- Do not restrict your dog to a kennel or tie him up in the backyard.
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Licking His Paws
Your dog’s irritation could have been triggered by anything as simple as a mosquito bite, but their chewing and licking could have aggravated the situation and resulted in a secondary illness.
To put an end to the problem, you’ll need to stop your dog from licking his paws while also finding a means to treat the pain, irritation, or itching. Of course, treatment should be determined by the underlying source of the problem.
How to Make Your Dog Stop Licking His Paws
- Wear an Elizabethan collar or cone on your dog.
- Provide them with a variety of chew toys to keep them occupied.
- To keep their minds occupied, give them plush Kongs.
Itchy Paws Remedy at Home
Use a steam vaporizer or a humidifier in your home if your dog has allergies or has dry skin. The steam helps to rehydrate the dry air and reduces the likelihood of your dog’s nasal passages becoming clogged with mucus. To avoid mold, make sure to clean the humidifier; otherwise, the irritation may worsen.
If you come in from outside, wipe your dog’s paws to see if the allergy is caused by something your dog steps on. Using a moist washcloth, clean the area.
Make a 10-minute foot soak for your dog using chilly water and oatmeal shampoo. The cool temperature of the water helps calm sensitive skin while also rinsing away any irritants.
Give your dog a high-quality omega-fatty-acid fish oil supplement. Fish oil strengthens dogs’ immune systems and functions as an anti-inflammatory, but it takes 8 to 12 weeks for it to take effect.
Veterinary Treatments for Dogs’ Paw-Licking
Anxiety: If your dog is anxious, figure out what’s causing it. Medication is always preferable to prevention. Sedatives may be recommended if you are unable to remove the thing or circumstance that is generating anxiety. Bach flowers or pheromone plugins may be beneficial.
If your dog has a food allergy, your veterinarian will most likely recommend a special diet that includes one novel animal protein (rabbit, duck, etc.) or a diet in which the proteins have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed).
Non-food allergies may necessitate the use of antihistamines or, in the most severe cases, steroid shots. Steroids have a lot of negative side effects, so only use them as a last resort and not for a long time. Again, avoiding the stimulant that is causing irritation is the best method to treat allergies.
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