10 Reasons Why Your Dog Keeps Licking Their Paws


What Does It Mean When a Dog Licks or Chews Their Paws All the Time?

Looking at your dog that is obsessively licking its paws can be a really frustrating yet stressful experience as you do not know what is happening with the dog that loses interest in everything around them, as well as you.

You would like to help the dog, and we are here to help you, by telling you some of the most frequent and specific reasons for this behavior.

Once you know them all, it would be up to you to find out what the problem may be with your dog.

In the case when this strange behavior appears suddenly and continues for an extended period of time, our suggestion is to take your dog to a vet, especially if licking is followed by bleeding, swelling, limping, or odor.

A veterinarian would investigate a dog’s paws with the right diagnostic tools and tell you what to do.

You need to have in mind that it is normal for dogs to groom their paws, but if you notice too much licking, there must be an underlying problem.

Some dogs that lick their paws excessively may develop stains on the fur of their feet, swelling and the dog’s toes become a place for an opportunistic infection.

  1. Pain

    Your dog starts licking only one paw.

    You are wondering what the reason for this may be.

    It can be due to the pain or irritation, and this suggests that the source of this pain or irritation is on the paw.

    The reasons for the pain may be different, caused by wounds, insect bites, a thorn, a piece of embedded glass, a broken nail, etc.

    However, in case your dog is licking the paw and limping at the same moment, and you do not see anything that may cause this trouble, you should not ignore it, but take your dog to the vet.

    A muscle sprain or some type of inflammation or fracture may be the reason for this issue.

  2. Allergies or Yeast Infection

    Noticing that your dog is chronically licking its paws should be a sign to you to take it to a vet.

    This state is typically attributed to allergies that can be caused by food, the chemicals in your garden, your carpet cleaning products, weeds, and many more.

    You need to follow your dog to see when the licking is happening.

    In case your dog is licking paws after walking, then the problem may be caused by pesticides in the grass or by the grass.

    What you should do is to clean your dog’s feet so as to prevent further irritation.

    We are aware of the fact that the search for the real cause of the itchiness can be a very frustrating and troublesome experience, but you are the one who needs to figure what your dog is allergic to.

    Another thing you can do for your dog is to run a blood test with the vet.

    That way you will find the root cause of the problem.

    If there is a yeast infection it is caused by a poor diet, so it is important to provide quality foods and vitamins to your dog that is excellent for the gut and the skin.

    Causes and Treatment for Dog Allergies
    Causes Treatment
    Food Common ingredients that cause allergic reactions include beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, and soy. They can also be allergic to artificial additives. Have the vet run a food allergy test. Avoid cheap commercial foods and try to feed them an all-natural diet.
    Mold, Grass/Weeds, and Pollen Wash food and water bowls frequently. Don’t let your dog out into the yard during high pollen season or right after you cut the lawn. Clean your dog’s feet with a wet wipe after going for a walk to prevent further irritation.
    Dust Mites Vacuum often or limit your dog to carpet-less areas. Wash your dog’s bedding weekly. Change furnace and air conditioning filters.
    Prescription Drugs Speak to your vet. They might be able to prescribe another brand.
    Flea-Control Products, Cleaning Products, and Perfumes Avoid using these.
    Insecticidal Shampoo Avoid using if you suspect this is the cause.
    Rubber or plastic material Use glass or stainless steel food and water bowls.
  3. GI Issues

    If the licking of the paws is constant and excessive, the dog may be suffering from GI issues.

    There was a clinical study during which 19 dogs that were excessively licking their paws were compared with 10 healthy dogs.

    So, the researchers have conducted a thorough physical and neurological examination, meaning that the dogs underwent an abdominal ultrasound, endoscopic examination, and biopsies of the stomach.

    According to the findings of these researchers, 14 out of the 19 licking dogs were found to have some sort of GI abnormalities including lymphocytic-plasmacytic infiltration, chronic pancreatitis, and gastric foreign body.

  4. Boredom

    Dogs used to walk and hunt in the past, but nowadays, their role has completely changed, causing dogs to feel bored, being that they are often left at home in a small yard, or in the apartment, for many hours a day.

    If you take care of a high-energy dog, you may notice that your dog becomes frustrated, and performs certain destructive activities.

    Some of these activities can excessive licking and chewing of the paws due to boredom.

    If this is the case of licking, you should follow the advice:

    You should not leave your dog alone for long periods of time.

    When leaving your dog alone, you can give it a Kong to keep occupied.

    Times to play and exercise are obligatory, meaning that taking your dog for a walk or playing with the dog at the park for at least 30 minutes each day should be your daily routine.

    It is important that you let your dog socialize with other people and other dogs

    You should not keep your dog tied in the backyard.

  5. Anxiety

    Anxious dogs are noticed to lick themselves excessively so as to find relief.

    Anxiety in dogs can be created in many situations, and it can range from separation anxiety to obsessive-compulsive disorders.

    Paw-licking or chewing is frequently compared to human nail-biting.

    Moments, when anxious dogs may be found licking their paws, are before bed, and this is their way of relaxing and soothing themselves.

    If the licking causes redness or swelling, you should be concerned.

    Otherwise, it is not a reason for going to a vet.

    The main causes of anxiety can be boredom, lack of proper exercise, depression, separation from the owner for long periods of time, and illness.

    However, you will need to visit a vet if the licking becomes compulsive and excessive.

  1. Displacement Behavior

    There are cases when dogs lick their paws as a displacement behavior.

    If you are wondering what displacement behaviors in dogs are, we will explain them to you.

    This condition occurs when they are facing conflicts and display behaviors that seem rather unrelated, and the best example is a broody chicken that cannot decide whether to send away a human from her nest or return to the nest, so it decides to scratch the beak on the ground.

    In the case of dogs, they often chew their paws, similar to people chewing on a pen or twisting their ring when they are frustrated about something.

  2. Hormonal Imbalance

    A hormonal imbalance can also be a cause of paws licking, as they produce too much cortisol or does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

    Both of these conditions may cause a dog’s susceptibility to develop skin issues such as red spots, balding, and brittle hair.

    Unfortunately, licking the irritated areas can lead to a secondary infection, causing even greater trouble.

  3. Dry Skin

    When dry skin is in question, it can be either breed-specific or can be caused by over-bathing or a dry environment.

    If it is breed-specific, we have to say that hairless breeds are prone to numerous skin conditions as no natural protection is present.

    The Chinese Crested, the Xoloitzcuintli, and the American Hairless Terrier are very prone to these issues.

    Another reason for dry skin can be the weather, and those dogs that live in cold and dry climates are prone to this condition.

    You should ask your veterinarian to recommend a natural dog lotion or oil and you should feed them quality vitamins and oil supplements.

    Furthermore, avoiding excessive bathing and the use of harsh soaps can diminish the dryness.

  4. Fleas or Ticks

    Fleas and ticks can be the cause of severe itchiness and typically a compulsive paw licking and chewing is noticed.

    The situation can be even worse if your dog is allergic to fleas, so what you need to do is to use insecticides and flea medication, and clean your house.

    However, make sure your dog is not allergic to cleaning products, since there are non-toxic ways to get rid of fleas.

  5. Deicing Salts and Cold Weather

    Some dogs were noticed only licking their paws during the winter.

    The reason for this kind of licking can be deicing salts or sore paws caused by ice balls.

    When deicing salts are in question, they are usually used to melt ice on driveways and roads.

    But, if your dog’s paws get in touch with them, this can lead to chemical burns on the dog’s feet.

    Owners should avoid areas that are sprayed with deicing products.

    Also, they can give their pet boots when going outside during the winter.

    Once you get back home from your walk, a bowl of warm water and a towel should be waiting for you near the door, so you can wash off your pup’s feet.

    Ice balls form between hairy toes when the snow gets in and this can cause cracking, bleeding, and hair-pulling.

    So, you must keep the hair between the pads and toes trimmed and short during the winter if you have a really hairy dog, or you can rub Crisco between the pads and into the fur.

How to Stop Your Dog From Licking Their Paws

  • Your pet should wear an Elizabethan collar or cone
  • You can always distract your dog’s attention with toys to chew
  • You can provide stuffed Kongs to keep his mind occupied

Home Remedies for Itchy Paws

  • One of the things you can do if your dog has allergies or is suffering from dry skin is to use a steam vaporizer or a humidifier. The steam will bring back moisture to the dry air, thus preventing your dog’s nasal passages from clogging up with mucus. You need to pay special attention to cleaning the humidifier to prevent mold, as the irritation may get worse if you do not do that regularly.
  • You can wipe your dog’s paws using a damp washcloth any time from coming outside if the allergy is due to something your dog walks on.
  • If you can do this, you should make a 10 minutes foot soak made with cool water and an oatmeal shampoo designed for dogs. The water will rinse off any allergens while the warm water will soothe itchy skin.
  • You should also give your dog a high-quality fish oil supplement rich with omega fatty acids, which will strengthen your dog’s immune system.

Vet Treatment for Paw Licking in Dogs

What kind of treatment your dog will get is based on the causes:

  • Anxiety: If a dog is anxious, you need to find out the cause of anxiety, but have in mind the fact that prevention is always better than medication. If removing your dog from the thing that is the cause of its anxiety, then your vet may give it some sedatives. Pheromone plugins may be helpful, as well as Bach Flowers.
  • Allergies: There are allergies that may require anti-histamines and some more serious can be solved only by steroid shots. It is worth noting that steroids have nasty side-effects, so they should be only used as a last resort and not on a long-term basis. Allergies should be solved by avoiding the stimulant that is causing irritation.
  • Food allergies: the allergy that your dog’s food is causing can be easily remedied, as your vet will prescribe a special diet containing one novel animal protein (rabbit, duck, e.g.) or diets where proteins have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed).

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