Why do dogs lick their paws and how can I stop?

One of the most common symptoms that veterinarians see in dogs is licking or chewing on the paws. Sometimes, It is difficult to find a specific causeand sometimes it’s obvious once the paw is examined. If you’ve just noticed that your dog licks its paws, you may be interested in finding out the main reasons why dogs need to lick and chew.

Although you may be here because you saw your dog lick its feet more than usualYou can be unsure of what constitutes an abnormal amount of leaks and when to worry. Most dogs do not clean their feet more than once a day or after every trip outside if they get particularly dirty. If you do more than that, you may have a dog that pays more attention to its feet than it should.

You may also notice your dog nibbled on his pawsor rub it on the carpet. The feet may be wet more often than expected, or in dogs with longer fur you may notice a crust on the fur on which they have dried with saliva. Another common sign is a change in your dog’s coat color from white / cream to pink. There are several reasons why your puppy may be licking its paws. So let’s dive in below.

Ten reasons why dogs lick their paws

There are many reasons for dogs can lick their pawsThere are 10 reasons why most paw lickers adopt this behavior. Below are the top ten reasons why you are likely to see why your puppy is licking, and you will also find out when it is time to actually see a veterinarian.

Dirty paws

Dogs with dirty paws often lick them.

Of course, paw licking is a normal part of a dog’s cleaning routine. Although dogs are not as obsessed with cleanliness as cats, they still spend some time grooming themselves, especially when it comes to places like paws that are particularly prone to dirt.

If you’ve just come in from a wet or muddy walk, or you’ve driven on icy or paved roads, your dog is likely to lick its paws Remove all traces of dirt and irritating between his pads, under his nails, and on the tips of his feet. You can help your dog feel more comfortable after a walk by washing his feet. Solar showers provide warm water for free, or it may be helpful to fill a deep tray like a garden tray with warm soapy water and ask them to go through the tray.

Thanks to Diseases like Alabama red If you have concerns that street grains could cause salt poisoning, you should make it a habit to clean your dog’s feet for them and then examine them for concerns. You can also buy dog ​​boots if your dog feels mud and dirt on their feet as a problem.


Dog with allergies lick paw
Dogs with allergies can respond by licking their paws.

The most common reason for a dog to lick its feet abnormally is an allergic reaction. This can be a contact allergy (e.g. against carpet shampoo), a food allergy (e.g. against beef), a flea allergy, or most often an environmental allergy (e.g. against pollen).

The allergy makes dogs feel an itch in their paws through a complex path. First, immune cells that look for bacteria and foreign bodies recognize the allergen and release a messenger protein called IL-31. This is picked up by a specialized receptor and triggers a chain reaction that causes nerves to transmit the message to the brain.

The brain then prompts the dog to scratch the itch. Or lick the itch in this case. The problem is, the more they lick, the more the skin is damaged, causing more allergen to enter the body and triggering the chain reaction again. Using a shampoo designed for sensitive skin can often help solve common itching problems.

Dogs with allergies often do too Have ear infections and may have symptoms that come and go depending on the time of year, or symptoms that are constant when there is an allergy to something in their food. Other symptoms may include itching on other parts of the body, recurring skin infections, and soft stool coming and going.

Allergies can really be complicated to diagnoseand there are many different tests and treatment options available, so it may take a while to figure out what is bothering your dog. If you suspect that allergies affect your dog, you should discuss this with your veterinarian so that you can find the best approach. Certain breeds are more prone to skin problems, such as English bulldogs or different types of pitbull pedigree dogs.

Foreign object

Dog with stick in the paw
Dogs with a foreign body in their paw usually lick.

Another reason why dogs lick their feet is that there is a foreign body in the foot. This type of licking usually occurs suddenly and is usually limited to one foot, although it can happen in more than one foot if your dog was really unlucky. The foot can also be swollen or redand your dog may have a limp. The usual places for a foreign body are between the toes (especially with grass seeds at the end of summer) or between the pads (with thorns that were stepped on).

If not removed, foreign objects can penetrate deep into the foot or even other parts of the body and spread infections everywhere. Although they may initially respond to antibiotics, they continue to leak in place until the foreign body is removed once the antibiotics are discontinued.


Dog with arthritis in the paw
Dogs with arthritis often lick their paws due to pain.

It is possible that your dog is licking its feet due to arthritis. Although less common than some of the other causes of foot licking, licking aching joints is a well-known symptom of arthritis. Arthritis affects one in five adult dogs and is much more likely in your doggie if they previously had a joint injury or are overweight.

Other signs of arthritis may include limping, changing gears, stiffness after rest, or a Behavior changeSo if you think you see any of these signs, consider a trip to the vet. Diagnosing arthritic pain can be difficult. Your vet may want to take an X-ray or suggest a pain relief test to see if your dog’s licking improves with pain relief.


Anxious dog licks paw
Anxious dogs often lick their paws or other parts of the body.

Dogs can get scared like humans. And like us, they sometimes deal with repetitive, calming behaviors to do this help them deal with it.

If you notice that your dog licks its feet in stressful situations, e.g. For example, when other dogs are present, when strangers come into the house, or when there is a thunderstorm, fear may be the reason why they lick so much. Of course, it is very difficult to be precise in Diagnosing fear in dogs, but if they respond well to anxiety medication, it’s likely the cause of foot licking.

Boredom and habit

Bored dog licks paw
Bored dogs often learn bad habits, including licking and chewing.

Dogs are bored too! A bored dog can turn to repetitive behaviors like an anxious dog and is a common repetitive behavior excessive paw licking.

If you have noticed that your dog has started licking its paws since moving home, especially if this has led to less attention, fewer walks, or a more frequent absence, this may be the case until boredom.

Try to provide them with puzzle feeders and games that they can play themselves, and see if the leak stops. If not, it is possible that it has become a habit that is much more difficult to stop. Bitter sprays may be necessary to break the habit, but should only be used after the other causes here have been ruled out by a veterinarian.

Growth or cyst

Dog with cyst lick paw
When a dog has a cyst or growth, it often responds with licking.

Interdigital cysts are small clumps that appear between the toes of middle-aged dogs to older dogs. Other growths can occur on the toes and pads. All of this can cause discomfort and therefore lick the area. Interdigital cysts begin due to a combination of factors that cause paw and cushion inflammation. A secondary infection begins and small “cysts” appear. These are swollen, red areas, usually between the toes, and cause repeated licking of the affected area.

Histiocytomas are fairly common benign tumors in younger dogs but can be somewhat irritating, especially if they occur on the feet. They appear as red, raised, circular clumps and usually disappear on their own. However, they should not be confused with mast cell tumors. So it’s best to have them tested by a veterinarian.

Mast cell tumors too often appear on your feet. These nasty clumps can cause big problems and look very similar to histiocytomas. They often itch a little and can explain why your dog licks their paws.

Claw injury

Dog with paw injury
Dogs with a claw cut or an injury often respond with licking.

It is not uncommon for dogs to injure their claws, especially if they are too long. Suddenly licking a paw can occur with a torn nail. It is very painful. So be careful when examining your dog’s feet. You may find that the claw is at an abnormal angle or is present Blood in your dog’s fur. They should be taken to the vet so the claw can be cut off and may need antibiotics, especially if they have been licking them for a while.

It often happens that newer dog owners injure their dog’s claws when they are first cut because they accidentally hit the nail. For this reason, we recommend using a nail grinder instead to limit the possibility of claw injuries.

If your dog’s claws seem prone to injury, they may have an illness called Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy (SLO), an autoimmune disease that affects the claws. Affected dogs always have painful claws that tend to crack and break. You feel very sore. So be careful when examining your pet’s paws if you suspect SLO could be a problem for your dog. You should discuss your concerns with your veterinarian if you are concerned about SLO as treatment is needed to relieve the pain.

Yeast or bacterial infection

Dog with bacterial infection licking paw
Dogs with bacterial infections often respond by licking their paws.

The claws, toes, and pads come into contact with all types of bacteria and yeast every day. In fact, they have a “normal” number of bacteria and yeasts that live on the skin and do no harm. However, if the immune system is weakened (possibly due to another disease or one endocrine disorder like Cushing’s) the normal flora can get out of control and cause disease. The same can happen if tiny scratches on your dog’s skin infiltrate the infection. As with allergies, the more your dog licks the area, the more the skin surface is damaged, so that the infection can spread.

While a single foot infection can be treated with antibiotics or antifungals, repeated infections should be examined to find the underlying cause.

Demodex infestation

Demodex infestation in the dog
When dogs get mites, they often react with licks.

Demodex canis is a mite that lives in the Dog hair follicles. While many dogs never show signs of Demodex, it actually lives in small amounts on most dogs’ skin. As with a bacterial or yeast infection, problems with Demodex occur when the immune system is weakened.

This can be due to medication or disease, although Demodex is most common in young animals that have not yet matured their immune systems. It is transmitted from mother to puppy through contact, and dogs usually show signs before the 12th month of life. Most dogs with Demodex do not itch too much have hair loss instead. However, as Demodex spreads, it can get more and more irritating, and it’s not uncommon for dogs with severe demodectic mange on their feet.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Why are my dog’s feet pink?
A: If you have a white or light-haired dog, you may have noticed that its feet are pale pink or orange-brown in color. This is called “saliva staining” and is an indication that a dog has spent a lot of time licking its paws. The color change is caused by a substance called porphyrin, which is naturally present in saliva and tears. If dogs repeatedly lick their paws, the substance remains on the fur and leaves colored feet. If you’ve noticed that your dog’s feet change color, it’s time to take your dog to the vet to find out why.

Q: Should I be worried?
A: Many of the reasons why dogs can lick their paws are either painful or itchy, which means that ignoring them can cause pain to your dog. Licking also causes damage to the skin, both due to the abrasiveness of the tongue and the excess moisture at the skin level, both of which can lead to bacterial or fungal overgrowth and infection. The more your dog licks, the more damage they do and the worse the problem.

Q: When should I go to the vet?
A: If you think your dog is licking its paws too much, take it to the vet for a check-up. If your dog shows other symptoms such as bleeding or limping, it is a good idea to take them as soon as possible – ideally within 8 hours of noticing the problem. If your dog licks all paws and doesn’t seem to have any other symptoms, the appointment can wait a day or two for a mutually appropriate time.

Q: I can’t go to the vet today. What should I do?
A: First, if your dog is excessively bothering his foot, you should prevent him from doing so. Attaching a Buster collar is the best way to do this. You should not try to bandage the foot, since incorrectly applied bandages do more harm than good.

You should then ask your vet for advice. He may be able to recommend washing your foot in a dilute salt water solution to keep it clean until you get to the vet.

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, only your vet can help you figure out which one will make your dog lick its paws. They may be able to find out quickly after talking to you and checking your dog’s feet. We recommend you book a visit to your veterinarian to go through your concerns.

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