- Dogs naturally lick their paws, but unusually excessive licking may have an underlying cause.
- If your dog is licking the same paw frequently, he could be in pain or have an injury or infection.
- If you can't find a clear reason for your dog's constant paw licking, your best bet is to call your veterinarian.
Lately, every time you look at your beloved pooch, it seems that he is licking his paws.
Should you be concerned? It depends on. However, excessive paw licking can be due to many reasons, including pain, injury, and in some cases, behavioral issuessome dogsmay be more prone to nervous grooming than others.
Whatever the cause, recognizing the problem before complications arise is key, Dr. Emily Wilson, a verified vet withBlurred, called.
Because pets can't explain what's wrong, paying attention to new and unusual behaviors, such as excessive paw licking, can help you take steps to address these concerns promptly.
If your dog licks his paws, it could be a sign that he has pain somewhere on his body. Paw licking is sort of a "grievance coping mechanism," Wilson said.
The causes of pain-related licking vary, but they can include:
- Pain elsewhere in the body, e.g. B. Lower neck pain.
- cysts or other growths.
Diseases like arthritis and cancer are particularly common in older dogs.
Once you've received a diagnosis from a veterinarian, you can limit licking by helping to relieve your dog's pain—often with prescription medications, but the remedy depends on the underlying cause.
You may also need to add soft runner rugs over slippery hardwood floors for dogs that have trouble moving due to arthritis or other conditions that cause chronic pain, Wilson said.
2. Paw Injury
Your dog might lick the site of the injury if it has a cut or scrape, or if a thorn, burr, or other foreign object is lodged in its paw.
A cut or scrape is likely if your dog licks a specific spot. However, it is not always easy to recognize embedded objects.foxtails, for example, are prickly plants that can get between the toes and cause incessant licking and chewing, Wilson said.
If you discover any foreign objects in the wound, contact your veterinarian immediately rather than attempting to treat the injury at home.
There are a few steps you can take to help your pup break free from asmall wound:
- Rinse the area with water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Clean the cut or scrape with mild soap and water.
- Using a cotton swab, dab an antibiotic ointment onto the injured paw.
- Cover the injury site with a sock or put a cone on your dog to prevent licking the wound, which could lead to infection.
3. Skin diseases and infections
Some skin diseases such asDermatitis, can trigger continuous licking. They can also contribute to secondary problems like infection, which can then lead to licking.
Bacterial or fungal infections are more likely to occur in dogs with hairier feet, especially in wet weather, Wilson said. You can help prevent these infections by:
- Wipe paws dry after taking your dog out on a rainy day.
- Use dog shoes to protect your pup's paws from things like ice and winter salt.
4. Boredom or anxiety
Some dogs can lick their paws to soothe themselves.
behavioral reasonsconstant licking includes:
- separation anxiety.
- phobias, including fear of strangers or loud noises like thunder.
- obsessive compulsive disorder, including acral lick dermatitis and canine obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Moving to a new environment.
"Most breeds become destructive before they start over-grooming,"Ali Smith, a dog trainer, said. Destructive behavior may includechewing furniture, excessive barking or shredding of pillows and toilet paper.
Sometimes you may be able to relate the licking behavior to a recent change in your dog's life.
"If you know for a fact that you've just moved and your dog tends to be a little bit anxious, then yes, it's likely that that had an impact," Smith said.
But a vet visit can help you rule out other causes before calling in a behavioral expert.
"It's very much a group effort. Behaviors can be really frustrating for some pet parents, and it can be difficult to explain to your caregiver," Wilson said.
In the meantime,enrichment itemcan help distract your pet from licking. Things like toys filled with yummy treats, for example, will cause most puppies to forget their paw, at least temporarily.
Smith said giving dogs a fulfilling life and increasing their enjoyment of daily activities would make anxiety less likely.
5. Allergic reaction
Dogs can also lick paws that are itchy, and frequent itching could be related to an allergic reaction.
While it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of your dog's allergies,Guiltycontain:
- Grass (especially if chemically treated).
According to theAmerican Kennel Club, Other symptoms of allergies include:
- redness and inflammation.
- itching in the ear.
One way to minimize allergic reactions to outdoor environmental triggers like grass is to wipe your dog's paws after an outdoor romp, Wilson said.
If you suspect a food allergy is at play, ask your vet about an elimination diet.
Another common cause of constant paw licking is a flea infestation. Many flea bites cause itching and irritation, which can trigger licking.
In some cases you may be able to see the fleas, but some dogs with a flea allergy may experience a reaction from a single bite.
"They can get a bite when they go for a walk and go through that cascade of itchiness," Wilson said.
Ideally you would liketake actionto prevent flea infestations in the first place by:
- Ask your veterinarian about flea control products for all pets in your household.
- Search for fleas, especially during the warmer months when your dog is spending time outdoors.
- Treat your home for fleas.
- Stop your dog from interacting with wild or stray animals.
However, if you find your dog's fur full of fleas, you've done itoptions for treatment.
When to contact your veterinarian
Because excessive paw licking has multiple causes, speaking to your vet is generally a good next step.
Not sure if the problem is worth a vet visit? Wilson recommends turning to a telemedicine service like Fuzzy, adding that veterinary telemedicine services can give pet owners more insight into the options available and prepare them for a full-service vet visit.
Remember that a dog that licks one spot or paw more than the other may be in pain. Therefore, it is best to contact your vet immediately if you notice this type of licking.
Finding out the reason for your dog's constant paw licking can take some time and careful attention.
Because dogs can't talk, Wilson said, they rely on humans to help them decode the problem. While you can identify and fix some causes of excessive paw licking at home, in some cases your dog may need immediate veterinary care.
If there is any chance your dog is injured or in pain, contact your veterinarian immediately to confirm a diagnosis and receive the proper treatment.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer and homebody with a passion for home and kitchen items. Always on the lookout for the best home and kitchen gadgets, she is determined to help people separate treasure from trash. As someone who works from home 365 days a year, she knows exactly how to make a space cozy and comfortable for every activity on her to-do list. Steph currently resides in the Montreal area where she lives in a 70's style bungalow with her husband, two dogs and a parrot named Felix. Say hello email@example.com @seestephrunmtlTwitterand @frontyardharvestInstagram