Being a pet owner causes you to say things those without furry family members will never utter such as:
“Did you eat my shoes?”
“Get the cat’s head out of your mouth!”
“Stop licking your paws!”
While you don’t need to call a vet for the first two examples on that list, the third could possibly be a sign that your dog needs to be scheduled for a visit to the vet’s office.
Why do dogs lick their paws?
Most dogs lick their paws occasionally, so don’t rush to the vet the first time you see this behavior. If, however, you notice excessive licking or your dog is chewing on his paws, a visit may be in order.
Common Causes for Excessive Paw Licking
Some of the reasons why dogs lick their paws are things you can solve at home. Others may require medical treatment. The most common causes include:
Pets With Allergies
Allergies that cause your dogs to lick or chew his paws can have their origin in any number of things, including: food, environmental allergies, or flea allergies. Here are a few tips to narrow down the cause of a possible allergy in your pet:
- Food Allergies are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea. A food allergy (as opposed to food sensitivity) will cause an immediate show of symptoms, so if you notice issues right after your dog eats, food allergies could be the cause.
- Environmental Allergies can be caused by things such as pollen, dust mites, or grass. Accompanying symptoms may include sneezing, runny eyes, and itchy skin. If symptoms tend to pop up after a good roll in the grass or a trip to the dog park, investigate possible environmental allergies.
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis causes extremely itchy, thick skin, redness, and hot spots in addition to paw licking. If your dog has a flea infestation and some of these symptoms, he may have a flea allergy.
Pets With Dry Skin
Canine dry skin is more common than most pet owners realize, and it often causes irritated skin which leads to itching and paw licking. Some dogs are just naturally prone to dry skin, but it can also be caused by bathing your dog too often or with a harsh shampoo, extremely low humidity, and even by allergies, such as those discussed above.
Can anxiety be another answer to the question why do dogs lick their paws? Yes. Many dogs chew on their paws as a way to comfort themselves when they feel anxious. For some dogs, this becomes a compulsive behavior. If you notice a pattern, such as the paw licking starting after a visit from another dog or when your dog is left alone for an extended period, you can ask your vet for ways to help reduce anxiety.
Occasional paw licking isn’t a cause for concern, but if you notice other symptoms or if the skin between the toes is red and inflamed, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment. One reason not to ignore this behavior is that the excess moisture caused by paw licking can lead to a yeast infection, which creates a circle of itching and more licking.
The Vet on Fourth provides services to meet all of your pet’s health care needs. If you’re concerned about paw licking, we’ll work to figure out the cause so we can give your pet some relief—and you peace of mind.