Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws?

Dogs might lick their paws for many reasons. Most of them are not of any concern to pet owners, but if the behavior starts to become obsessive, it can be a reason for dog owners to worry. Pets who groom their coats or their paws too much can cause skin infections and other problems like fungal infections as well. Knowing more about what kinds of paw-licking behaviors are normal can help you to identify behavior that requires medical attention. Dogs of all ages will lick their paws from time to time, but you need to know enough about this behavior to be sure that you notice if it becomes a problem related to your pet’s well-being.

dog lick his paws

Main Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Paws

Read on to learn the 6 most common reasons why dogs do this:

1. Injuries

Dogs like to lick at injuries that they have gotten. When it comes to licking feet, common injuries that might make your dog show this behavior are things like burns to the pads of the feet, foreign objects stuck in the feet, or cuts and nicks on the sensitive parts of the feet. Pets that lick their feet too much when they are injured can cause secondary infections and things like hot spots.

Examining your pet’s feet can help you to spot issues like cuts and scrapes or foreign objects that need to be removed. Consider allowing your vet to handle these kinds of concerns to be sure that the entire foreign object is taken out and to be sure that your pet gets antibiotics and other supportive care as needed.

2. Parasites

Some kinds of parasites, such as fleas or mange, can cause the paws to itch. Some dogs are more focused on grooming their feet than scratching when they have these kinds of parasitic infections. This kind of issue can usually be resolved quite easily with the help of a veterinarian. Make sure that you look for other signs of these kinds of conditions, like bald spots or flaky skin and sores on other parts of the body.

3. Food Allergies or Environmental Allergies

Dogs who are allergic to their food can sometimes end up with itchy feet and spend a lot of time trying to groom or chew on the feet to make them feel better. This is a very common reaction that can happen if your pet is allergic to their food. Dogs can also be allergic to plants during some times of the year or things like detergent or cleaning products that you have used in the home.

Allergies can be treated with over-the-counter allergy medications in most cases, but some pets will also need supportive care to eliminate additional problems like skin infections caused by excessive grooming. It can take time to identify the reason for your pet’s allergic reaction, so you will need to be prepared to take the time to eliminate different items slowly to see which ones might be causing your pet to display excessive grooming behavior.

4. Anxiety

Some animals that are anxious or scared will groom excessively to help themselves to feel better. This kind of grooming can lead to baldness, sores and hot spots, and other injuries. Pets that have been abused or have trouble with being kept indoors can be more likely to display this anxiety-driven behavior, but dogs that are high-energy can also fall back on excessive grooming to help manage intense feelings.

Your veterinarian can usually help you with this kind of foot chewing or grooming behavior by giving your pet some medications to help them to feel calmer each day. Make sure that your dog gets enough exercise and that they are being given a safe place to hang out all day long. Eliminating reasons for anxiety can usually cause this behavior to go away on its own.

5. Dermatitis

Dermatitis can be caused by lots of things, from food allergies to contact with irritating substances. Your pet might have dry and cracked feet if they have dermatitis, or their feet could be red and swollen. Dogs that have dermatitis usually develop secondary infections that are fungal or bacterial. Taking your dog to the vet to be looked at can be a big help when it comes to resolving dermatitis issues. There are various medications that your pet can take to help their fee to heal, and your vet might give you a cone for your dog to wear to prevent them from grooming excessively while they are recovering from this problem.

6. Pain

Pets that are in pain might also lick their feet to try and make them feel better. This pain could be related to a foreign object in the foot or things like arthritis. Dogs might also lick the feet when it is really the legs that are hurting or a bigger joint like the shoulder is to blame for their pain. X-rays and other kinds of diagnostic tools can help your vet to figure out where the pain is coming from so you can treat it successfully. Managing your dog’s pain can be essential if you want to stop them from grooming excessively for this reason.

Contact Northwoods Veterinary Clinic if You Are Concerned About Your Dog Licking His Paws

Pet owners should remember that dogs lick their paws for many normal reasons, but excessive grooming usually indicates a medical issue that needs attention. Your pet will thank you for taking the time to figure out what is wrong with their feet that is causing them to groom them all the time. Dogs who chew on their feet can cause secondary skin infections and other problems, so it is a good idea to make sure that your pet is not grooming their feet for hours every day.

Foot grooming behavior can also be linked with a wide array of anxiety behaviors, or it can be a sign that your pet is bored. You will need to work with a vet to figure out the reason for your dog’s excessive foot licking, but if boredom and a lack of exercise are to blame, it can be easy to solve this problem. For more information or if you would like to speak to a veterinarian, contact Northwoods Veterinary Clinic in North Charleston, SC by calling (843) 553-0441