Dog licking paws. From time to time, you will see your dog licking his paws. But why do dogs lick their paws? While it is absolutely normal for your dog to lick his paws, excessive paw licking is an indication that there is a problem.
Why does your dog lick his paws?
Your dog is licking paws for a number of reasons. It can be that your dog is a self-groomer and finds comfort in keeping himself clean through licking, particularly after meals, coming in after some playtime outdoors, and settling down for sleep. But even dogs who are not really into self-grooming will clean their paws. It's their natural instinct.
Possible causes to rule out
If you ever notice your dog constantly licking his paws all the time, then it could be possible that there is a problem. It can either be a sign of an underlying health concern or a behavioral issue. The following are the most common possible reasons on why your dog licks his paw excessively:
Pain. If your fur-baby is licking only one paw, it is an indication of irritation or pain. And this suggests that the pain is actually coming from the paw he's licking. Pain in that area can be caused by insect bites, wounds, thorns, etc.
On the other hand, if your dog is licking his paw and then limping (and you do not see anything (stuck) in his paw, it can mean there's a fracture, inflammation, or a muscle sprain.
What you can do: Consult your veterinarian and have him examine your dog's paw. If there are foreign objects present, he'll remove them. If there is none and yet your dog is licking and limping, then he will perform exams like an x-ray to rule out the cause of the problem.
Yeast infection and allergies. Excessive licking can also be caused by allergies or yeast infections that are present in your fur-baby's paws. Allergy triggers include your dog's diet, weeds, harmful chemicals in your lawn like herbicides, pesticides or in your house like carpet cleaning products that your dog might've gotten in contact with.
What you can do: If it's caused by his diet, you can consider changing his diet for hypoallergenic ones that will still sustain his daily nutritional needs, If it's because of harmful chemicals, make it a habit to always clean your dog's paws at certain times like after a time outdoor, after walking, after cleaning your house or lawn, etc to prevent further irritation. Also, make sure to keep any harmful substances out of your fur-baby's reach.
Moreover, you can also provide your dog with allergy supplements* that help prevent skin allergies through its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Gastrointestinal issues. The excessive licking of your dog on his paws can also mean your dog might be going through some gastrointestinal problems. In a clinical study that was conducted, dogs who were suffering from GI issues and abnormalities were more likely to lick their paws compared to dogs who were healthy.
What you can do: Your vet knows best. Have your fur-baby checked for proper diagnosis and proper treatment plan that will help your dog synthesize important hormones that can support his body system and help balance out the helpful and harmful bacteria in the gut.
Boredom. Dogs are active animals who love to walk, run, play, and scavenge but it is disappointing to know that some of today's dogs are often just kept in cages or in a small yard for most hours of the day. Dogs who have naturally high-energies are exhausted by doing nothing at all and so they resort to negative activities like excessive chewing, excessive barking, and yes, excessive licking of paws.
What you can do: Ensure that your dog gets enough activities for the day. Give him frequent exercises and playtime. Take him to a walk to the park, play fetch, socialize with other dogs and people in your neighborhood, for at least 30 minutes daily. It's also important that you do these things on a fixed schedule every day so that your dog won't engage in destructive activities because of boredom since he has something to look forward to. We know you are busy, give your dog an antler to chew on to stimulate his brain. This will take some of the attention off paw licking.
Stress and anxiety. Anxious and stressed out dogs find comfort and relief by licking their paws excessively. The triggers of such stress and anxiety depend and vary from one dog to another.
What to do: Provide a healthy and stress-free environment for your fur-baby. Determine what triggers his anxiety and avoid it as much as possible. You can also provide your dog with calming supplements** that will help act as a calming aid in stressful situations.
Fleas and ticks infestation. These parasites can cause excessive paw licking, especially if the fleas and ticks are seeking refuge on your dog's paws.
What you can do: Always check if your dog has fleas and ticks. You can provide proven-safe flea medications to your fur-baby and always keep your house & lawn clean & disinfected all the time to get rid and prevent fleas and ticks from coming back.
For relaxation. Sometimes dogs excessive lick their paws not because there is a problem but because this helps them sleep. Licking paws is their way of soothing themselves.
What to do: If there is no sign of any inflammation, redness, pain, boredom, or anxiety, then this shouldn't be a cause of concern.
How Pet Parents® can help?
Pet Parents® can help as we have products that can help you manage your dog from licking his paws. As mentioned above, some of the common causes of why your dog excessively licks his paws are yeast infections, allergies, stress, and anxiety.
Pet Parents® offers allergy-fighting supplements that contain colostrum that fuels an under-active immune system or reduces an overactive immune system & helps seal the GI tract, which prevents infection & allergy symptoms. Our Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that support healthy skin & coat, & has been presented to aid in decreasing inflammation and improving itchiness.
We also offer calming supplements that have Thiamine (Vitamin B1) that assists in stressful situations by helping the nervous system & brain of your dog to function properly and strengthen the immune system. And L-Tryptophan, an amino acid, considered as a natural anti-depressant, that produces serotonin, which is key in regulating responses to stress & anxiety.
There are also Gnawtlers® available. These are premium antler chews from elks and deers that are safe as they do not splinter easily. They are also natural and has no harmful dyes and artificial flavors.
Dog licking paws can be a cause of concern for us, pet parents, especially when it becomes excessive. But there is always a reason why your fur-baby does so and efficient ways on how you can deal with it.