My dog is always licking his paws
A dog licking their paws is a normal part of their daily routine, mostly to clean their toes or remove anything caught between their toes. But sometimes dog owners complain that this habit is taking an excessive turn and their dog is continuously engaged in it. This is when it becomes unsettling to watch your fur friend lose interest in all activities and keep licking his paws instead. This can further escalate to chewing on their toes which is even more disconcerting for pet parents. In order to help your dog refrain from doing so, it is first important to understand the reasons behind it and then move on to prevent it.
Pain or injury- If you notice your dog suddenly taking an urge towards constantly licking his paws, chances are he is doing it to alleviate any pain in it. In such situations it will be only one paw that he will lick which means the pain is in that paw itself. On close inspection you might discover the cause which may be an insect bite, a broken nail or swelling due to any injury. While on a walk they could have accidently stepped on anything sharp which could have resulted in a cut or injury. If you are not able to see anything that indicates injury or cause of pain, you should take him to a vet for better examination.
Boredom- Dogs were originally hunters and thus always on the lookout for prospective preys, being vigilant and alert. Now that they are domesticated and have access to food and water without working for it, they get easily bored by having nothing much constructive to do. When dogs get bored, their bodies release more cortisol which is a stress hormone. Licking paws is one of the ways dogs try to manage stress and while away their time. If you feel that your dog licks his paws due to boredom, try to keep him well engaged. Dog toys are a good way to keep them busy for hours. When you are home then try to spend some time with your dog to help ward off his boredom.
Anxiety- Anxiety is a kind of mental disorder that is commonly found in canines, especially in aging ones. Anxiety could be due to a lot of reasons like change of places, loud noise of crackers or music, new people in the house, separation anxiety issues or more. In aging dogs anxiety levels get more aggravated which is characterized by a decline in thinking, learning and memory. If you observe his paw licking is due to stress issues, then try to establish the reasons for it and act accordingly.
Hormonal imbalance- Hormonal imbalance caused by either low or excessive levels of thyroid hormones can be a reason for too much licking of paws by the dogs. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism could result in symptoms like red spots, hair thinning, shedding and loss. If the problem goes unnoticed, it could continue in dogs licking themselves raw which results in more common lick granulates. It may become large in size and appear like open wounds
Dermatitis- Dry skin is a condition that causes itching and the dog may lick itself to soothe the itchiness. Some breeds which are hairless are more prone to dry skin than their hairy counterparts. Very cold weather and excessive bathing may drain the natural oil in their skin and cause prickliness. In such cases use natural dog lotions on their skin and reduce their bathing schedules.
Fleas and ticks- Parasitic infection like fleas and ticks are common in dogs, especially in warmer and humid climate. This can cause irritation and dogs lick to soothe itchiness. Use flea and tick repellents if you find any while combing your dog’s coat with a flea comb.
If your dog continues to lick itself even after you have tried and considered all the above reasons, it is best to visit your vet for further investigations. Most cases are treatable and it is always best to address the problems as early as possible to ward off any complication to develop. From Waggfluence wishing you and your doggie a healthy and safe life!