You go back inside from a walk, and your dog won’t stop chewing and licking at their paws. Later you leave for work and see your dog excessively licking on the pet cam. You notice hair loss and redness where your dog won’t stop licking. As the odd behavior persists, you ask: Why does my dog lick his paws, and is it bad?
There are a lot of reasons dogs will lick their paws. Some of them are quite innocent, like your dog feeling dirt and pebbles between their toes. But sometimes, paw licking can be the sign of something a bit more serious, like an injury or disease. Identify why your dog is licking their paw so you can better address their distress. Here’s all you need to know!
Is It Common For Dogs To Lick Their Paws?
Yes! When a dog licks their paw, it’s often part of their self-grooming routine. You’ll often notice your dog licking their paws more than usual when they’ve gone outside. This is an attempt to rid their paws of dirt, sand, and other debris.
But if your dog hasn’t been outside and is relatively clean, why would they still lick their paws? There are many reasons why dogs lick their paws, including discomfort, behavioral issues, and allergies. It’s important to figure out the cause of the licking so you can better help your pup if they are feeling irritated or uncomfortable.
Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws?
Dogs are masters at hiding their discomfort. But sometimes, we’ll still notice some signs of distress, like licking their paws. Here are some reasons your dog may be excessively biting and licking at their feet.
Paw licking can be a sign of dry skin, which can lead to irritation if left untreated. When dogs have dry skin, they will often develop dandruff, which is flakes of dry skin.
If your dog is allergic to any ingredient in their food, it can curiously lead to excessive paw licking. That’s a common side effect of food allergies, most often caused by a type of carbohydrate or an artificial ingredient in your dog’s food.
This is a skin condition caused by bacteria, allergies, and food sensitivities. While it could be food-related, Dermatitis can be caused by an allergic reaction to chemicals, like those used in your yard. It could also be from certain types of grass or plants. Symptoms of environmental allergies can also include sneezing and runny eyes.
If your dog seems suddenly fixated on one paw, they may be feeling physical discomfort in that area. There are a lot of things that lead to pain in your pup’s paws. This includes a cut, a torn nail, a thorn or stone stuck between their toes or pads, getting stung by a bee, or developing a blister from walking on the hot sidewalk.
If you suspect this could be the case, check your dog’s paws for any sign of an injury. Study their paw closely for irritation, blood, swelling, or a foreign object, including between their toes.
Just like us, dogs’ nails can grow too long. If left uncut, a dog’s nails can start to cause a lot of discomforts, curling into the dog’s paw pads. It especially hurts when your dog tries to walk, causing your dog to lick excessively the affected paws to get comfort.
A dog experiencing pain may lick their paws for comfort, especially if the pain comes from their paws. Hip dysplasia, arthritis, and other ongoing conditions that impact their limbs and paws can cause a lot of discomfort and distress. Look for other signs of these conditions if you suspect a serious ailment like limping, whimpering, lethargy, and a loss of appetite.
Hot spots are a very sudden occurrence that often seems to happen overnight. It’s a form of inflammation that usually impacts a specific area, made worse by repetitive licking. You’ll often see hair loss on your dog’s paw, revealing red, itchy skin that appears wet.
As if pests couldn’t get any worse! Parasites like fleas, worms, and mange can lead to itchy and irritating infections. You’ll need to eliminate the parasite (which requires a different method depending on the type of parasite) to ease your dog’s discomfort.
A common pest that impacts the paws is ringworm, which is a fungal infection dogs can catch through contact with infected soil or other animals. It’s often spotted on a dog’s head and limbs, recognized by hair loss and red skin.
It’s not only physical discomfort that leads to behavior like excessive paw licking. Dogs lick their paws and other parts of the body in a neurotic, repetitive manner when suffering from boredom or nervousness. If you suspect this could be the case, watch for signs of compulsive behavior when your dog is in triggering situations, like after a stressful situation (the vet, fireworks, a stranger visiting) or when you leave for long periods.
What Happens If A Dog Licks Their Paws Too Much?
A dog that has licked their paws too much may experience irritation. Excessive licking leads to hair loss, redness, swelling, dry skin, cuts, and infection. It may even hurt your dog to walk if their paws are too raw or uncomfortable.
Excessive paw licking may lead to skin diseases, like “lick granuloma.” This can be a big problem because this type of skin irritation may persist even after treatment.
Signs Your Dog Is Excessively Licking Their Paws
While licking their paws could simply be a part of their self-grooming routine, there are some things to look out for if you suspect that your dog is doing this behavior a bit too excessively. Here are some signs that your dog is excessively licking their paws:
- Wet paws
- Raw areas on their paw
- Hair loss
- Lethargic behavior
- Repetitive behavior impacts their ability to eat, play or enjoy other activities
Natural Ways to Help Prevent Your Dog From Licking Its Paws
If you suspect that your dog is excessively licking their paw, you should call the vet to determine the possible reason for this troubling behavior. Paw licking may signify something serious, like an injury, disease, or behavioral issue. Meanwhile, here are some things you can do at home to alleviate your dog’s discomfort.
Moisturize Their Paws
Your dog’s paws may simply be dry. This can lead to itchiness and irritation. Try a moisturizing cream with impactful, beneficial ingredients like omega-3 oil. This can improve your dog’s skin condition, removing the moisture that’s causing the excessive licking.
Paw licking is a common side effect of food allergies. When you talk to the vet, they can determine if your dog has allergies and suggest food for dogs with sensitivities.
Trim Their Nails
Always keep your dog’s nails at a short, comfortable length. This will avoid split nails, ingrown nails, and overgrown nails, all of which lead to a lot of pain. You’ll know your dog’s nails are too long when you hear them clicking on the hardwood floor.
Invest in Doggy Booties
Dogs can get too cold or too hot, just like us, but people often bring their dogs outside without any protection from the weather. On hot days, pavement and other surfaces may scorch your dog’s paw pads. When it’s too cold, your dog’s paw pads can crack. De-icing salt can also cause skin irritation, leading to paw licking.
Booties may protect your dog’s paws from the weather and extreme temperatures. They can also make it harder for pests to get ahold of your dog’s fur and skin, further protecting their paws.
Clean Your Dog’s Paws
It can be a good habit to start cleaning your dog’s paws every time they come inside, whether it’s a short walk or a play session in the backyard. Keep a bowl of water and a towel near the door so you can gently clean your dog’s paws when they come inside. This can reduce paw licking while simultaneously keeping your home clean.
Give Your Dog CBD
CBD treats, oil, and shampoo may alleviate your dog’s excessive licking. Dogs lick their paws when they are nervous or experiencing physical discomfort, two things that CBD targets in a natural, effective way.
CBD is a compound found in the hemp plant discovered to have an abundance of positive benefits on your dog’s mind and body. CBD interacts with the receptors found in your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is in charge of your dog’s balance and well-being. When it interacts with these receptors, CBD may soothe and comfort your dog.
Like Healthy Petable’s CBD treats and oil, ingestible CBD will help your dog feel relaxed and calm. Suppose you suspect that your dog’s constant foot licking is the result of nervousness or stress. In that case, CBD may reduce destructive and repetitive behavior by changing the way their brain reacts to serotonin, alleviating negative thoughts and feelings.
CBD shampoo can be quite impactful if your dog licks their paw due to irritation, swelling, or a cut. CBD supports the receptors beneath the skin when massaged into the affected area, reducing uncomfortable skin conditions. This will soothe your dog, reducing their need to lick their paws excessively.
Provide More Stimulation
Excessive licking may become a neurotic and compulsive behavior caused by mental distress. A common reason for behavioral issues is boredom or nervousness. If you suspect that your dog is bored, try bringing them on more walks and runs, have more playtime, and give them puzzle toys to keep them stimulated. This will take focus away from paw licking and allow your dog to have other outlets for their energy.
Final Thoughts – Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws?
While some paw licking is quite normal, you are right to be concerned if you notice hair loss, irritation, and redness on your dog’s paws. If that’s the case, your dog may be excessively licking their paws, which may lead to infection and concerning skin conditions.
If you feel your dog is licking a bit too much, it could be due to a behavioral issue, injury, or allergies. It’s always best to contact a vet if you want a proper diagnosis since it could be a sign of a serious ailment. Meanwhile, give your dog some relief with CBD shampoo and CBD treats, reducing your dog’s physical discomfort and helping them feel relaxed and comforted, pleasantly.