Dog Licking Paws Many owners observe this common behavior in their dogs and wonder if they should be concerned. In some cases, dogs gently but insistently lick one or both paws, but other dogs chew their toes, which can be disconcerting for any pet owner.
So should you be worried?
The short answer is yes. You should always consult your veterinarian about this behavior, especially if it occurs suddenly, if it persists for long periods of time or is accompanied by redness, swelling, odor, bleeding, lameness or other signs of pain and infection.
Although most dogs sometimes adopt this behavior for unknown reasons, others are prone to licking or chewing excessively. In these cases, the feet (especially in light colored dogs) will often have a pink or rust color, which results from chronic contact with porphyrin pigments present in saliva.
Possible causes of sudden licking
There are various reasons why your dog suddenly licks or chews the feet, such as puncture wounds to the toes or paw pads, claw or toe fractures, burns, corns (especially common in greyhounds) and body foreigners that can be housed between the toes, such as ticks, grass barbs and burrs.
Dogs will also adopt this behavior because of other more serious causes, such as interdigital cysts, tumors and other cancers, allergic skin diseases and autoimmune diseases of nail beds or pads.
Chronic Cause of Dog Licking his Paws
Allergic skin conditions are the most common reason that dogs lick and chew their feet chronically. Food allergies, in particular, are usually the cause, and secondary infections caused by yeasts and bacteria can further aggravate the behavior.
Many dogs that lick and chew their feet for long periods will also do so because it seems to be good for them. In these cases, veterinarians are looking for an underlying non-behavioral disease that may have initially triggered the obsessive behavior. For example, dogs with licking granulomas – injuries caused by obsessive licking of the tops of the feet and lower limbs – may have had to lick the area due to injury, a simple itch or a reaction to an allergen.
Regardless of the cause, if you notice that your dog is licking or chewing paws, ask a veterinarian for advice, especially since most of these cases can be treated if they are treated quickly by a professional.
Why Dog Licking his Paws Reasons
1-Dog Has An Allergy:
If you notice that your dog licks his paws excessively after a walk, it may be an allergy to something in his environment – grass, pesticides or plants.
Regular and excessive licking that is not associated with any other behavior may indicate food intolerance or allergy. The most common food allergies in dogs are beef, chicken and dairy products. It is also possible that dogs are allergic to cereals.
Veterinarians can perform allergy tests on dogs, but it is more common to try an elimination diet to determine what your dog is allergic to. This is to give your dog a reduced diet of specific products to determine if his symptoms improve by excluding the main culprits.
Dogs may also be allergic to the cleaning products we use at home. If you think this may cause a reaction, replace the products to see if your dog’s symptoms improve.
Make sure your home is free of dust and mildew, as they can also cause problems for dogs.
2-Fear of Age
When we examined why the dogs were licking us humans, we turned to the puppy; mothers spend a lot of time licking off their offspring. We know that this maternal behavior is linked to dogs that are more resilient and less stressed as they grow up.
It is thought that licking reduces the levels of stress hormones in the dog’s body. It would be perfectly logical that, when your dog feels anxious, he licks his paws to reduce his stress level.
Establish what makes your dog anxious.
This may be related to fear (for example, loud noises, new people, new pets brought into the house, a change in routine or separation) or age, as some dogs develop anxiety about as they grow because of a decline in thought, learning, and memory.
You may notice other anxiety symptoms such as: excessive panting, urinating, defecating, aggression, crying, barking or moaning.
Talk to a veterinarian or behavioral specialist if you think your dog is suffering from anxiety.
3-Time to Play
As we mentioned, dogs can lick their paws to feel better (for example, cope with anxiety).
This would explain why a dog can lick his paws if he gets bored! In fact, boredom increases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and licking of the paw reduce this stress hormone.
As in humans, the experience of a dog’s boredom is subjective. It will depend on their race and level of activity. A smart dog (eg Puggle) will require a lot more attention and brain stimulation.
Make sure to respect their quota of daily exercises. Spend some time practicing and playing puzzle games. If you have to leave your dog alone for short periods, leave him a free space in the house and leave him some toys.
A brilliant dog boredom buster is a raggy toy:
- If you have an old pillow case, cut it into three parts.
- Tie the ends of the sections together.
- Braid (ie, braid) the three sections and tie the end.
- Insert small treats into the folds of the braid.
- Your dog will fetch in the folds to get to the treats.
When a dog loses because of anxiety or boredom, it can often cause licking granulomas. These are in the form of open wounds on the skin. The more the dog licks it, the bigger it gets. Some breeds are more susceptible to licking granulomas, including Doberman, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Weimaraner and Irish Setter.
4-Hormone Imbalance (Thyroid Related)
When a dog does not produce the thyroid hormones required for hypothyroidism (too little) and hyperthyroidism (too much), it can cause thinning, falling and loss of hair. Dogs are more likely to lick exposed skin, resulting in more common granulomas.
The licking granulomas can become bulky and look like open wounds. While the dog’s instinct is to lick a wound and we know that its saliva has antibacterial properties that can help with healing, there is room for maneuver between keeping a wound clean and worsening it. In consultation with your veterinarian, it is often best to keep a covered lick granuloma so that it can heal. Often, when hormonal imbalance is treated, the licking behavior ceases.
You may notice skin dandruff through his coat or when he is scratching. Their skin can also be red or bumpy. Dogs can lick to calm irritation. Dry skin in dogs is often caused by excessive bathing or grooming schedules. Although we like our pooches to be clean, it is possible to over-bathe them; it’s common with the designer races. It strips their skin and hair of its natural oils – a bit like humans do if you wash your hair every day.
Read the labels on the shampoos you use – strong chemicals or soap can dry their skin. Talk to a qualified groomer or veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s skin or coat.
6-Rover is Grooming His Coat
Another reason you see your dog licking his paws is that they groom themselves. You may have been out walking or they were in the yard.The grooming behavior is easy to notice because your dog will lick each of his paws; do not focus specifically on a paw. They can also gnaw or chew their paws if they have something stuck to the paw; It’s a pretty typical behavior.
7-Fleas or Ticks
Tick infestation is a growing problem in the United States and the United Kingdom, where endangered dogs often walk in areas populated by many wild species (eg forests).
Some dogs may be allergic to fleas and ticks, but irritation from a flea or tick attached can cause a dog to lick. Saliva fleas or ticks causes an immune response that causes a sensation of “itching”.
Your dog will scratch or lick the site; on the one hand in the hope of eliminating the pest and on the other hand in the hope of appeasing the area. Even as humans, we all know that we should not scratch ourselves, we all know how satisfying it is.
Use flea and tick repellents on your dog and if you notice that he is scratching or licking more often than usual, check his coat with a flea comb.
8-Wounds or Stings on Dog Paws
One of the signs of pain that is easily forgotten is the licking of the paw. This could be caused by a foreign object in the paw such as a grass seed or spine. Take a look at his pad and feel between his cushions.
Look for open wounds or insect bites.
Licking the paw can also be a sign of pain further down the leg. Dogs exercising excessively can sprain their legs, just like humans.
You may also notice a more abundant lameness or rest than usual. This is usually localized in a region, so relatively easy to notice. A veterinarian can advise you on the best course of action.
How to Stop Dogs From Licking Their Paws
It is important first to establish why your dog is licking his paws before attempting to change this behavior. If it is a health problem (for example, anxiety, hormones, dermatitis, etc.), it is essential to seek advice from your veterinarian. Once the health problem is resolved, you will notice that the licking of the paw also disappears.
In the case of granulomas to lick without supervision, it may be easier to cover the site to allow it to heal properly. If you are able to supervise, it is possible to distract your dog with putties, games or just on order.
If health reasons have been ruled out and you are concerned that your dog is suffering from anxiety or boredom, there are a number of things you can do.
If possible, seek advice from a powerless behaviorist. They can help you understand what makes your dog lick his paws.
Once you have identified the trigger, it is possible to desensitize and counter-condition your dog’s response.
If we consider separation as a source of anxiety, one of the first steps may be to introduce a barrier into the house. This is to help your dog learn to be away from you.
With the barrier in place, they can still see you, but they are not directly with you. This barrier situation can only be introduced for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time.
You can introduce interactive toys or chew on the other side of the fence. You thwart the answer so that they learn that being away from you is not so bad! If you are concerned that your dog is bored, we have a handy checklist to go through:
Licking the dogs’ paws was not as easy as we thought; In fact, your dog can lick his paws for a number of reasons. Although it is typical that dogs groom themselves while licking, this can also indicate an underlying problem. The licking of the paw can be a sign of pain, allergy, boredom, anxiety, dry skin, hormonal imbalance or presence of fleas or ticks. If you are concerned about an underlying health problem, ask a veterinarian for advice. A weak behavioralist can help you understand if your dog is suffering from anxiety. If you think your faithful friend might be bored, try to include some of our best advice and tell us how you are doing.
References Dog Licking Paws
- Richard W. Redding; Myrna Papurt. The Dog’s Drugstore: A Dog Owner’s Guide to Nonprescription Drugs and Their … Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Debra M. Eldredge, DVM; Liisa D. Carlson, DVM; Delbert G. Carlson, DVM; James M. Giffin, MD (2010). Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook. John Wiley & Sons. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-470-89328-9.
- James G. Fox; Lynn C. Anderson; Franklin M. Loew; Fred W. Quimby (20 June 2002). Laboratory Animal Medicine. Academic Press. p. 434. ISBN 978-0-08-053533-3.
- George H. Muller; Robert Warren Kirk; William Howard Miller; Craig E. Griffin (2001). Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology. Saunders. pp. 1058–. ISBN 978-0-7216-7618-0.
- George H. Muller; Danny W. Scott; Robert Warren Kirk; William H Miller Jr; Craig E. Griffin. Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- “Curbing dog’s anxiety may lick the medical problem”. TribLIVE. March 4, 2001. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- “Lodi News-Sentinel”. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Stein D, Mendelsohn I, Potocnik F, Van Kradenberg J, Wessels C (1998). “Use of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram in a possible animal analogue of obsessive-compulsive disorder”. Depress Anxiety. 8 (1): 39–42. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1520-6394(1998)8:1<39::AID-DA8>3.0.CO;2-0. PMID 9750979.
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