Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?
Why do dogs lick their paws? Is it simply a bad habit like when we bite our nails, or could it be something more? The fact is, there are many reasons.
Here are the six most common:
1. Sensitive Skin or Seasonal Allergies
Some canines paws’ are very susceptible to irritants in their environment –especially in the spring/summer. Grass is a good example. Some pups can get itchy from just strolling around outside. It’s good to be aware of what breeds tend to have these problems.
Common breeds affected: Jack Russell Terriers, Shih-Tzus, Pugs, American Eskimos, Goldendoodles, Pitbulls,Corgis, West Highland Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Malteses, Poodles, Pekineses, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs (English and American), Beagles, Bichon Frises, French Bulldogs, Shelties, Wheaten terriers, Dalmatians, Havanese,Yorkshire Terriers
Look closely at the dog’s paw. Does it appear to be red and flaky? If, so they could have an infection. Depending on what’s in their environment it could be bacterial, fungal or parasitic. Check with your local veterinarian to see what the true cause is.
3. Wounds, Fractures, Burns
All the sudden a dog begins to lick their paws excessively. It’s a lot more than the usual lick here or there -they may be injured. Check their feet for any lacerations, or burns. Does your dog yip when you touch their paw? They may have a broken bone. If you spot any of these, it’s best to take your dog to a veterinarian to get the best treatment.
4. Psychological Reasons
Some dogs just like to lick, it’s in the nature of their breed. This can be totally harmless. However, if this habit gets out of control it can lead to chronic itchy, red paws and in worse case scenarios: lick granuloma. Lick granuloma is when a dog licks a sore to the point where it becomes larger and larger. Definitely something no dog wants to happen, but sometimes it’s just hard to stop licking that spot!
Common Breeds: Labrador Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, Shih-Tzus, Pugs, Chows, Dobermans, (miniature and large)Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apsos, Dachschunds, Weimareiners, Huskies, Shiba Inus, Blue Healers.
5. Sensitive Skin AND Psychological Reasons
Certain canines suffer from sensitive skin combined with that urge to lick, lick, lick.
Common Breeds: Australian Cattle Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, Chows, Dobermans, (miniature and large), Chihuahuas, Dachschunds, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Weimareiners, Schnauzers, Great Danes, Huskies, Mastiffs,Greyhounds, Shiba Inus, Dalmatians, Rough collies, Blue Healers,Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
Dogs who suffer from arthritis are more prone to lick their paws. It’s a method they use to try and alleviate the pain.
How to Stop The Licking
- Distract your dog. To take their attention off of their paw, play games with them, such as throwing a Frisbee or a ball. If they are content with sitting and relaxing, give them something else to occupy them, such as a chew toy or a bone.
- Use an E-Collar. Somestimes distractions can only last so long. If your dog is an excessive licker and is starting to get sores, using an e-collar could help. E-collars are cone-shaped and are placed around the neck normally when a dog has a surgery to prevent them from licking their paws. However, you can use it has a behavior modication tool to help discourage the dog from over-licking.
- Contact Your Veterinarian. Above all else, you should always contact your local vet to see what techniques they recommend.