Licking the body, especially the paws, is a normal behaviour in dogs. However, if your dog has gotten into the habit of paw licking, or even chewing on them, then something wrong might be happening. Many people think that stressed dogs lick their paws, is this true or are there other possible reasons?
Why is your dog licking paws? Common reasons:
If your dog is constantly licking his paws, it may be because he is anxious or bored. Indeed, the fact of excessively licking the paws is self-destructive behaviour, just like when humans bite their nails. In this case, make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise each day, he doesn’t stay alone for too long, and he has enough toys to play and get entertained. Read more about stress in dogs here.
If your dog suddenly starts uncontrollably licking his paw, this usually indicates pain. It can be an injury, a burn, a sting, a spikelet, a sprain, inflammation, a fracture, etc.
Also, if lameness accompanies this behaviour, then we recommend you immediately consult the veterinarian.
If your dog is not getting quality food, and his diet lacks adequate nutrients, then he might be suffering from a yeast infection. So make sure that your dog’s diet is rich in protein and polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6).
Dogs are also subject to allergies, including food allergies. So, if your dog has gotten into the bad habit of excessive paw licking, it may be because of a reaction to household products, chicken, plastic, etc. which is causing intense itching. Read everything you need to know about dog allergies here.
Some dogs, especially those living in cold or dry climates, may have dry, irritated skin. Similarly, dogs who take baths too often and those who naturally have skin problems.
To moisturize and relieve your dog’s skin, do not hesitate to apply a fatty ointment on his paws, usually found in pet stores and clinics. Alternatively, you can drizzle some olive oil or hemp seed oil each day in your dog’s bowl. Such oils are powerful at strengthening the coat and skin, making it less sensitive and irritated.
The chiggers are small mites active from spring to autumn, and especially in August. The favourite place for these parasites to live in is between the paws of dogs. They are red/orange and usually invisible to the naked eye, but they are a source of intense and uncontrollable itching. Other forms of microorganisms that can have the same effect are the fleas and ticks. If this is why your dog is licking his paws, the vet may prescribe a pest control treatment that kills these little animals. Read more about tick and flea treatment here.
Some severe conditions can also cause your dog to lick his paws intensively. For example, interdigital cysts, tumours or certain skin diseases linked to the paws.
Excessive paw licking results in the appearance of red patches and sometimes small sores; then the hair changes its color to a rusty one before falling out and revealing a very rigid and irritated area. At this point, it becomes urgent to do something!
How to prevent my dog from licking paws?
To prevent a dog from continuously licking his paws, buy him a good collar. If the licking is due to disease, only appropriate treatment can save the hair.
There are little natural tips to strengthen the coat (not prevent the animal from licking), other than the hemp seed oil and olive oil, a teaspoon of rapeseed oil, salmon, nuts, or avocado in the bowl of the dog can help. The egg can also be a good fortifier, as well as brewer’s yeast which is very rich in vitamins and minerals. But beware that all these are natural tips, which may cause allergies in some dogs.