A picture of dog licking paws is nothing unusual for dog owners, but when do we consider this behaviour as part of grooming? When do we say that it is an indicative sign of an underlying problem? Dogs licking their paws are assumed normal unless the habit becomes excessive. Is your dog licking paws and limping? If the licking is accompanied by other clinical signs, it might be time to dig deeper into the situation.
The dog’s paws
Dogs enjoy outdoor activities such as fetching, jumping, and running with their paws left unprotected. Sure, paws are conveniently designed to be more resilient than our bare feet, however, these leather-like covered paws are only a few millimetres thick. This means that it does not protect their feet as our shoes do.
Dog licking paws excessively
Does your dog keep licking her front legs? Paw licking can be considered as a part of a simple act of grooming but as an owner, you should be able to notice when it is too much. Note that it can become an addicting habit when not corrected.
Is your dog licking paws until they bleed? Excessive paw licking may also leave stains on their fur and at times, it may result in a red, swollen wound. Further details will tell you a list of reasons why your dog is licking his paws.
Just like humans, dog allergies can be triggered by different allergens. Cleaning products, food, chemicals, and the environment are just a few. If this is the case with your pooch, paw licking is often accompanied by a reddening skin and raised bumps.
If your pooch starts to lick his paws excessively after a walk, it may be an environmental allergy. As such, it is always wise to rinse your dog after a good walk. Be sure to keep your home free from dust and mould as well. If the act is not associated with other behavioural issues, it may due to food allergy. An elimination diet is often done to determine what triggers your dog’s allergy.
Obsessive paw licking starts as a habit then turns into a compulsion. Our furry friends often lick their owners for several reasons though it is believed that licking helps reduce stress hormone levels. It is a possibility when you have an anxious dog they relieve their stress through licking his paws.
Fear-induced licking may include the following symptoms:
- Aggressive behaviours
- Barking or whining
- Excessive panting
Aside from anxiousness, boredom may also result in licking his paws. Refer to our previous blog to find out ways how to keep dog boredom away.
Such problems should be addressed as excessive licking caused by anxiety or boredom can lead to lick granulomas. Affected areas may appear as open sores on the skin which can get bigger when left untreated.
Dermatitis or dry skin
One of the common skin conditions is dermatitis caused by too much bathing or grooming. Excessive bathing strips off natural oils of the skin and hair. Dog licking paws is accompanied by changes in the quality of the dog’s skin. It may appear flaky, red or bumpy. This results in a dog licking himself in an attempt to soothe skin irritation.
For such cases, consider evaluating the labels on the dog shampoo and soap that you are using. It may contain chemicals that are too harsh for your pooch. You may ask for a consultation with a qualified pet groomer or your veterinarian for professional advice on the matter.
Certain areas on a dog’s body are generally more infested with fleas and ticks than the rest of the area. The said spots include the feet and lower limbs where the blood vessels are nearly located. That being said, flea bites can be very uncomfortable, sore, and itchy for dogs. This results in a dog licking and biting his paws with the aim of removing the pest and to soothe the affected area.
You might also like: How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Dog Fleas?
An indication of pain
Is your dog licking with his one paw only? Is your dog licking and limping? These are usually indicators of pain with obviously affected areas. Foreign bodies under the skin can be very irritating and sore which prompts pets to soothe areas by licking. That being said, you can easily examine the affected paw and see if there is something trapped in between their toes or under their claws.
Cleaning your dog’s paws
Keeping your dog’s paws clean is important to avoid costly medical attention in the future.
- Wash his paws thoroughly using lukewarm soapy water.
- Dry the paws thoroughly.
- Use a piece of a washcloth to clean the pads and space in between the toes. If not thoroughly dried, the dog’s paws will be kept wet for a couple of hours.
Itchy paws home remedies
- Using a steam vaporiser or a humidifier at home allows the steam to moisturise the dry air in the room. This is recommended for owners who have dogs suffering from allergies and dry skin.
- Make your own foot soak by using warm water and povidone-iodine. Povidone-iodine is said to be antibacterial, anti-fungal, non-toxic, and anti-yeast. Allow your dog’s feet to soak for one minute before drying them thoroughly. Apply a dog-friendly ointment or natural oil as a moisturiser.
- Prepare a tub with warm water and Epsom salt. Then give your dog an Epsom salt soak for 30 minutes. The Epsom salt helps improve the skin’s natural pH level.