What Causes Dogs to Lick Their Paws?
The majority of pet owners will agree that dogs enjoy licking. Whether it’s your face, your dog’s chew toy, or even his paws, a dog’s tongue is rarely sedentary.
This can be quite endearing, as dog licking is regarded as a sign of affection.
When dogs lick, endorphins are released into their brains, providing pleasure and comfort to the dog. Dr. Sarah Wooten, a small animal veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital, explains that dogs lick their paws naturally as part of their grooming routine.
However, there is a point at which dog licking becomes excessive and may indicate an underlying medical problem in the dog. Excessive licking in dogs is most frequently caused by a skin allergy. “Dogs, like humans, develop seasonal allergies, but instead of sneezing and itchy watery eyes, dogs develop itchy skin, and one of the areas that itch is the feet,” Dr. Wooten explains.
Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs may be a good option in this case. This dog shampoo is formulated with essential oils and natural ingredients to assist in reducing skin irritation by cleansing and moisturizing the skin.
Additional types of allergies that contribute to this dog behavior are food and contact allergies (such as harsh detergents). Consult your veterinarian about experimenting with different foods or detergents if you suspect this is the case.
To immediately alleviate the itch, NaturVet Aller 911 Allergy Aid Anti-Lick Paw Plus Aloe Vera Dog & Cat Spray is the recommended solution. Your pup will appreciate the soothing effects of the aloe and other ingredients, which discourage additional licking and chewing.
Additional common health-related causes of excessive licking in dogs include skin mites, skin infections, and paw wounds. Additionally, dogs with arthritis will lick and chew the affected area incessantly. If a physical cause has been ruled out, keep in mind that it could be psychological. “When dogs are bored or anxious, they may lick excessively to relieve stress,” Dr. Wooten explains.
If you suspect your dog is chewing at his paws as a result of stress-related trauma, additional walks or fetch games may be necessary.
So, what can be done to prevent dogs from licking excessively? Repeated licking can result in a yeast or bacteria infection of the skin, referred to as moist dermatitis. Lift the foot and inspect the bottom of the paw and between the toes—if this area is red and raw, the paw is most likely infected.
Dog saliva also contains an enzyme that darkens the fur around the toes, so if your pup’s fur has darkened around the toes, there is a good chance he or she has an infection.
If your pet begins licking excessively in ways that are not consistent with normal dog behavior, Dr. Wooten strongly advises you to consult your veterinarian immediately to determine the cause and appropriate treatment!