Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

How adorable does your dog look when it self-grooms itself? Wait! Dogs lick their paws occasionally. And while it may not be a great deal, you should be a bit concerned if the dog has been licking its paws continuously. Interested in knowing what could be the reason for the dog’s excessive licking? This article is just the right place for you. Have a look at some of the common reasons for your dog’s abnormal behavior.

Why Do Dogs Lick their Paws?

Dogs are more likely to lick their paws if they are painful, itchy, or irritated. Dogs lick excessively if it has a paw injury or if it has stepped on any sharp or hot object that may have caused it some discomfort. Dogs who are bitten by an animal or insect may also feel the need to lick their paws continuously. Let’s have a detailed look at the reasons for dog’s licking their paws:

Pain

If your dog has been licking only one paw, it usually means that the dog may have some pain or irritation in its paw. The pain could have been caused by any reason such as insect bites or a wound. As a pet owner, you should take your dog to the vet immediately and get its paw examined. This is more important if the dog limps too in addition to constant licking.  

Allergies

Licking could be caused by certain allergies as well. These allergies can be triggered by anything from the chemicals in your food to carpet cleaning products or even the dog food. For example, if your dog licks its paws excessively after it has just had a walk in the garden, the reason for this sudden irritation in the paw could be the pesticides found in the grass. To better understand what your dog is allergic to it is important that you get its blood tests done. Some commercial dog food items may not be suitable for your dog. After the consultation with your vet, get a food allergy test done. In case your dog is allergic to artificial additives, you should consider going with an all-natural diet for your furry friend.

Behavior Issue

Another common reason for dogs to lick their paws is that they have developed a bad habit or a behavior issue. Dogs that remain indoor for prolonged periods often tend to get bored. This long span of boredom is very frustrating for high-energy dogs. This frustration leads them to develop destructive habits that may include licking or chewing the paws. To prevent your dog from developing such self-harming habits, you should not leave your dog at home alone for long periods. If it is absolutely necessary to leave your dog alone, make sure that you leave something for it that can keep it occupied. Also make sure that you dedicate an hour – or at least 30 minutes – for your dog’s physical exercise. Take your furry friend for a walk or to a park and play fetch, etc. When you’ll take your dog outside, you’ll also allow it to become well-socialized as it will be able to socialize with other people and dogs.

GI Issues

Dogs who suffer from GI issues – including gastric foreign body, lymphocytic-plasmacytic infiltration, or chronic pancreatitis – also start licking their paws quite excessively. This is why it is important for you to not take this issue of licking lightly and to immediately go see a vet to get all the relevant tests done so that the root cause can be identified, and appropriate treatment can be done.

Hormonal Imbalance

Dogs that have hormonal imbalance may suffer from  not enough thyroid hormone – or hypothyroidism – or producing too much cortisol – this condition is referred to as Cushing’s disease. This imbalance leads to several skin issues which may include brittle hair, red spots across the body, and balding, which results in dog’s excessive licking. If left untreated for a while, this continuous licking can also lead to secondary infections.

Cold Weather and Deicing Salts

If your dog’s licking habit is seasonal – that is, if it only licks during the winter, the reason might be the sore paws are caused by ice balls. These ice balls are formed when the snow gets stuck between hairy toes of the dog. For dogs that are quite hairy, pet owners must keep get the regular trimming done – especially in winters – to prevent the formation of ice balls.

Similarly, another reason for excessive paws licking in the winter could be deicing salts. The salt that is used to melt the ice on the driveways or roads can cause chemical burns on dogs’ feet. If your dog has a habit of going outside, make sure that you keep a bowl of warm water and the towel at your door to clean your dog’s feet when they     return from their walk. This will also help prevent your dog from licking the toxic salt.

Anxiety

Dogs who suffer from anxiety also lick their paws to have some sort of relief. Some of the causes of anxiety in dogs include:

  • Boredom
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Separation from owner for prolonged periods

The best remedy in this case is to deal with the root cause of anxiety and try to eliminate it to keep your pet healthy and stress-free.

How to Stop Your Dog from Licking their Paws

There can be multiple reasons for your dog’s self-destructive habit. If you notice that your dog has been licking its paws excessively, you must schedule a vet visit. Also, until your dog is under treatment, you must have it wear an Elizabethan collar or cone so that they can’t lick their paws. Also, you can give them chewy toys to distract them and let them use toys for licking and chewing.

The Final Word

Whether or not your dog is licking because of an underlying physical problem or due to a behavior issue, it is important to get it checked by a professional vet. Follow the advice of a licensed vet to treat your pet.          

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