Paw licking can be part of the normal grooming routine for many dogs. This is especially true for those that have longer hair.
Sometimes it can be a sign of an underlying health issue. As a dog owner, you know your pet best. You might notice that your dog feels distressed when they lick their paws or that they begin licking obsessively.
If so, it may be time for a visit to the vet to find out what’s going on. Read on for the most common causes that dogs keep licking their paws.
An Environmental or Food Allergy
Your dog may develop an allergy to grass and pollen. Walking regularly on land sprayed with pesticides could also cause a nasty reaction.
Dogs can develop bacterial and fungal infections in their paws too. These infections can happen for no apparent reason but are sometimes secondary to allergies. When a dog’s paws stay damp for too long, they become more prone to bacteria and fungi infection.
Increased paw licking after a walk in the park or even around the block could mean your dog has developed an environmental allergy. Other simultaneous symptoms could be:
- Itchy skin
- Running eyes
Like humans, dogs can frequently develop a food allergy. Their immune system may overreact to the proteins found in:
- Dairy products
Dogs will lick themselves to relieve the itchiness that the food allergy provokes. Your vet will be able to help treat the symptoms of your pet’s allergic reaction whatever the root cause.
Anxiety or an Obsessive Disorder
Excessive paw licking may be due to a behavioral or psychological problem that your dog is experiencing. Your pet may use paw licking for comfort when they are going through periods of stress.
There may be a connection between a sudden change in their environment or routine that causes your dog to feel more anxious than usual. This can happen for reasons such as:
- More noise where you live, perhaps due to building work
- Introducing new people or other animals into the home
These kinds of situations can cause stress with paw licking one of the symptoms displayed. In extreme cases, your dog may have the canine version of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Identifying and dealing with the causes that set off this behavior is going to help. You should talk to your vet if the problem does not go away. They may recommend the help of an animal behaviorist.
Injuries, Splinters, Insect Bites, and Flea Allergies
A paw injury or a splinter could lie behind a sudden outbreak of paw licking. You might not notice it happening but dogs frequently step on things that cause them discomfort such as sharp objects or hot pavements.
You should check your dog’s feet regularly for splinters or thorns that may become embedded in their paws and set off irritation.
They can also suffer stings from insects or bites from other animals. A dog’s immune system can overreact to flea saliva. The allergic reaction causes intense itchiness of the skin all over their bodies including the paws.
Dogs try to relieve the symptoms by licking and scratching. Talk to your vet to make sure you are using the most appropriate flea treatment for your dog.
As they grow older, dogs can also be more susceptible to arthritis and this can cause problems in their paws. If you’re in any doubt about why your dog keeps licking his paws, you should take him to the vet for a check-up.
Dry skin is a very common problem for dogs. It can be the result of too much bathing, low humidity, or certain allergies.
Check your dog’s coat to make sure it looks healthy. At the same time look for fur loss, scabs, and dandruff. As well as paw licking, all these can be a symptom of skin that is too dry.
All breeds of dogs need regular stimulation and plenty of exercise. If not, they get bored and may then display behavior such as excessive paw licking to help them cope. Dogs do not like to be on their own for long periods.
Dogs like Border Collies and Springer Spaniels thrive on high-energy activities. You should always make sure that your dog gets sufficient opportunities to play and exercise.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Licking Their Paws
The type of treatment is going to depend on the cause of the excessive paw licking.
Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of action. This might mean your pet having to wear a cone around its neck to prevent the licking.
It might mean other treatments to address the causes rather than only the symptoms. For example, you may believe your dog may have an environmental allergy. If so, wipe their paws after a walk to remove substances that might be causing the irritation.
Get in touch with us now for instant online access to a fully qualified vet. We are also pleased to be able to offer straightforward, hassle-free, pet insurance for your dog. This gives peace of mind for whatever the future might bring.