Our furry friends are the best entertainer, especially when we need a mood lift after a stressful day. Their funny tail chases, unexpected barks, and playful behavior are enough to keep us on foot all day. But if you have just noticed that your pet is licking its paws too aggressively, it could indicate a health issue or an underlying behavioral problem.
Paw licking in dogs is a regular self-grooming habit, especially when they have dirt or sand on their paws. But it is disturbing when your dog is licking or chewing its feet more than usual.
Here we bring you the top possible explanations of why do dogs lick their paws and what you can do to stop them.
So, let’s get started without further ado;
- Usual paw licking is a dog’s normal behavior.
- Licking just one paw may be because of an injury.
- Skin problems, food allergies, parasites, or even boredom can be the reason for paw licking.
1. Injuries Or Scratches:
If your dog is licking just one of its paws excessively, then check its paws for an injury or a foreign object embedded in its foot. It could be a cut or torn nails, or they might have blisters from hot pavement. Look closely all over the toes, pads, and feet. If there is no injury, then there could be a stone or thorn stuck somewhere.
Initially, you might be able to clean and manage the wound, remove the stuck item or relieve a bee sting. For a severe injury, consult your veterinarian right away.
Dog’s paws are the easiest target for parasitic critters like fleas, ticks, lice, and mites. These minute creatures can create a horrible discomfort in your friend’s skin, causing them to scratch the affected area aggressively.
Usually, you can treat fleas at home only. Whereas treating mange (itching caused by mites) depends on your dog’s specific condition. So, it’s best to consult your vet and seek proper medical assistance.
If this has become a common occurrence, you might have to avoid going for a walk in grassy or wooden areas, which are the usual center of parasites.
3. Skin Irritation (Dermatitis):
Check your pet’s skin; if paw pads and feet look normal, there could be a skin condition caused by bacterial allergies or food sensitivity. Chemicals used in the yard, salt/de-icing chemicals, dust, or specific grass or weeds can often cause such allergic reactions.
Keeping your dog’s paws clean can help you avoid such allergies. Place a bowl of water and a towel by the door to clean the feet when your dog comes from outside.
4. Food Allergies:
When dogs have food allergies, they experience uncomfortable itch on their paws. Ingredients like dairy, wheat, soy, beef, or chicken can cause an allergy. It can be a food allergy if your dog shows the behavior of scratching its paws after eating a specific food.
Food allergens are also reported to cause gastrointestinal problems, so if your dog suffers from stomach aches and unusual paw licking, you can blame food allergies. Consult your doctor for a special diet and check food and treat labels to avoid ingredients that can trigger allergies.
5. Arthritis Pain:
When dogs experience pain due to arthritis or internal injury, they lick their paws excessively. Sometimes dogs lick their feet even when they have pain anywhere in the body to comfort themselves.
If you can’t find any apparent injury or source of pain, it’s best to consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. A vet can better suggest you a solution to reduce discomfort.
6. Behavioral Issues:
Some dogs are so attached to their owners that they feel anxious and depressed when they are away. Suppose your dog is licking their paws a little too much despite zero signs of injury or pain; then, it might suffer from boredom or behavioral conditions. Some dogs develop compulsive behavior, such as paw licking, to keep themselves occupied when bored.
To alleviate boredom, engage your dogs in playful activities like going on a walk, running, and playing with them. Give them their favorite blanket, ball, or chew toys to divert their mind from licking their paws. If you feel your dog has anxiety issues, then it’s best to give them calming treats or see your doctor for further assistance.
7. Abnormal Growth:
An abnormal growth, lump, or abscess on your dog’s paw can make them uncomfortable, causing them to scratch its foot uncontrollably. Consult your vet for abnormal growth or bump because if your dog has a tumor or cyst, it will need to be treated or removed immediately.
Reducing The Risk Of Infections
According to American Kennel Club, frequent licking can build up moisture in the dog’s paws, leading to bacterial or yeast infection. The infection will cause further pain, redness, swelling, and paw licking. Investigate why an infection takes place and work with your doctor to avoid secondary infections.
But do remember that occasional licking is healthy for your dog as it helps them to stay clean. If you see your little friend licking hysterically, it’s best to address the issue so you can stop worrying and spend more time together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Before sleeping, why does my pup lick his paws?
Some dogs have a grooming habit of cleaning their paws before sleeping. Even if it’s their habit, do not fret. They try to soothe themselves before bed by licking their feet. But you must consult a competent vet for any swelling or pain.
Q. Is it normal for my dog to lick their paws after eating?
After eating, dogs love to clean their paws. If it’s not aggressive scratching or chewing, then there’s no need to worry about it. If your dog licks their claws for a long time, it could have a food allergy or insensitivity.