Why Is My Dog Licking His Paws So Much?
The sound of your dog licking paws may seem innocent at first, but that endless slurp, slurp, slurp can be worrisome. Occasional paw grooming and itchiness are normal, but If your pal's licking, biting, or gnawing persists, something may be up.
Signs That Licking Is a Concern
It can be hard to tell if your pup's preoccupation with his paws warrants attention. These are some indicators that you should intervene:
- It lasts several minutes.
- It happens daily.
- His hair has reddish stains.
- Hair is missing.
- His paws have a strong odor.
- He's limping.
7 Possible Reasons for Excessive Licking
Here are some common reasons your pup may be licking his paws.
1. Foreign body
Adventurous dogs might have collected burrs, thorns, or other prickly things, like foxtails. Anything can get caught in his toes or pads: rocks, nails, thumbtacks, tiny glass shards — even gum.
If the object is wedged in the paw, you can try to gently remove it. If the object has punctured the skin or padding, though, consulting a veterinarian is a good idea. This is especially true if you can see a wound but not what caused it. Your pal will need to have his paw cleaned and he may have to take antibiotics.
2. Skin issues
Dogs can develop all manner of skin issues, including oozing, redness, or even a weird odor. When you notice anything out of the ordinary, a visit to the vet's office is in order.
While humans with allergies sneeze or get rashes, dogs with allergies itch, sometimes on their paws. Paws are a common spot for signs of allergies to surface. Environmental triggers like pollen, dust mites, and grasses often cause allergies in dogs. Canine food allergies are relatively rare. When they exist, they're most often tied to a protein source, like chicken or beef.
Getting a diagnosis can be frustrating for both owners and vets. Intradermal skins tests for canine allergies are available, as are blood and saliva tests. For food allergies, a strict trial can yield results. Treatment will depend on what your pal is allergic to and how bad the allergies are.
4. Parasites and bug bites
Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, mites, ground wasps, and other insects can burrow into Fido's paws. Fleas and ticks, in particular, can not only cause him to itch, but they can also cause a wide range of mild and serious conditions. Ticks can be removed with care, while preventive medications and bug sprays made for dogs can fend off many external pests. If he develops more serious issues, you should consider talking with your vet.
5. Broken nail
If your pupper breaks the hard part of a nail, it can expose the soft quick inside. That's where all the blood vessels and nerves are, and it can hurt a lot — ouch! Depending on the severity and your pup's disposition, you may need veterinary help to remove the broken part of the nail. The nail will grow back on its own, but your pal may need a bandage and antibiotics before it does.
To keep him from breaking his nails, trim them on a schedule.
Some owners clip their dogs' nails every week to make it a low-key routine instead of a once-a-month rodeo.
6. Paw pad injury
The pads on the bottom of your furry friend's feet are tough, but they aren't bulletproof. He can wear down his pads by dashing across hard, dry surfaces. Hot pavement, snow and ice melt, and undiluted cleaning chemicals also can damage them. Plus, some things can slice through the pad, like sharp rocks or broken glass.
7. Interdigital furunculosis
Often inaccurately described as interdigital "cysts," interdigital furuncles are inflamed pockets that occur when hair shafts become embedded in the skin of the paw. As you can imagine, it really hurts. Short-haired breeds such as bulldogs, Shar Pei, and Labradors are most at risk.
Your vet can diagnose interdigital furunculosis with a biopsy. Treatments may include paw soaks, medication, and wearing booties when outside.
When Your Dog's Paw Licking Is Worrisome
When you find your dog licking paws too much, it could be a simple matter of plucking out a splinter or locating a mosquito bite. But it also might require veterinary attention. Call your vet if you're unsure what's causing the discomfort.