4 Reasons Your Dog May Be Licking His Paws
It is very frustrating when you watch your dog incessantly licking his paws, especially when your dog loses interest in everything around him. There are specific reasons for this behavior. It is up to you, as the owner, to try to figure out what may be going on. The best thing you should do is to see a veterinarian and have him do the investigative work with the right diagnostic tools.
While it's true that dogs may like to groom their paws every now and then, too much licking is often indicative of an underlying problem. Don't let your dog's paw-licking get out of hands. Sometimes, it can become an addicting behavior that is difficult to eradicate. Dogs who lick their paws excessively often develop stains in the fur of their paws (if they are light-colored), and sometimes they may even develop unsightly wounds, which can be difficult to treat.
A good place to start is to observe your dog. Is he licking one paw or both? If the licking is only limited to one paw, then this often suggests that the source of trouble is right there within the paw. Very likely your dog has pain in his paw and the causes may be various, ranging from wounds, insect bites, a thorn or piece of glass embedded, a broken nail, etc. If you do not see anything, do not give up. See your vet. Sometimes there may be something going on at a deeper level, such as a muscle sprain or some type of inflammation or fracture.
Allergies in the dog world could be to just about anything. It could be the food you are feeding, the chemicals in your yard, your carpet cleaning products, walking on weeds, and so much more. Finding the real cause of the itching paws and licking can be a very frustrating ordeal. It may take some enormous investigative work to figure what your dog is allergic to, and sometimes it is simply easier to just treat the allergy by giving anti-histamines.
Modern times have created the right soil for boredom in dogs. Once used to walk and hunt for even up to 10 hours a day, nowadays dogs are often left at home in a small yard or worse, in a crate for many hours a day. High energy dogs may become frustrated often engaging in destructive activities that may include excessive licking and chewing of paws.
Anxious dogs often try to find relief by licking themselves excessively. The causes of such anxiety may be various ranging from separation anxiety to obsessive disorders. This habit can perhaps be somewhat similar to human nail biting.
It is not unheard of dogs licking themselves raw this way. When this happens dogs may develop unsightly ulcers often referred to as ''lick granuloma''. It is still not completely understood if lick granulomas are triggered by anxiety or if there is an underlying conditions that causes a "which came first, chicken or egg" scenario.
Treatment for Paw Licking in Dogs
Treatment of course is based on the underlying cause. If a dog is anxious, sedatives may be prescribe. Pheromone plug ins may be helpful and so are Bach Flowers.
If the caused is boredom, your dog needs substantial life changes. Maybe he needs more exercise, a purpose in life, and when left alone, a Kong may help him focus on something else other than his paws.
Injuries should heal on their own, while allergies may require anti-histamines and in severe cases only, steroid shots.
Dogs may be discouraged from licking their paws by using products such as Bitter Apple spray or an Elizabethan collar.