By now, you may have noticed that dog ownership offers plenty of eccentricities. From the way your precious pooch randomly stares at you or spins in circles to notice that your dog spends an awfully long time licking their paws, being companions with a dog is certainly never dull. While noticing these behaviors is one thing, though, understanding where they stem from is another feat entirely.
Here are some key reasons why dogs keep licking paws
- Normal grooming process
- Check For Injuries
- Skin Irritants and Allergies
- Food Allergies and Sensitivities
- Parasitic Invasions
- Alleviate pain
- Behavioral Issue
With that being said, open your mind to the dog world. By doing this, you will become more understanding of the why’s and how’s, allowing your dog ownership capabilities to flourish.
Read on to find out more about this interesting dog behavior.
Why Dogs Lick Their Paws
Gratefully, centuries worth of research has helped people understand why it is that their dogs do the things that they do. It is now comprehensible as to what signifies a problem and what are simply normal actions that get your dog through the day.
As Edward Hoagland once said, “In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”
So, to better answer the question, “Why does dog keeps licking paws,” pay attention to other present factors supporting this act.
Normal Grooming Process
Chances are if your dog occasionally licks their paws, it is totally normal. As part of their normal grooming process, paw licking is a way that pooches ensure that they are clean from head to toe– literally.
Sometimes, dogs even enjoy biting their own nails to clean out any excess dirt or grime that they pick up under there. Though this typical action is fine once in a while, frequent paw licking can indicate a problem, warns the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Frequent paw licking by your canine can indicate issues, including the presence of parasites, infections, skin problems, seasonal or food allergies, and even environmental problems.
To avoid rushing to the veterinary office each time you see your dog give a lick, though, understand that another sign will almost always be concurrent with the behavior itself.
Check for Injuries
If you have never noticed your canine lick their paws before, this sudden change in action could indicate the most common issue associated with the behavior: An injury. Begin by examining the paw for the following:
- Torn nail, which is often accompanied by blood.
- Splinter, thorn, rock, or stone
- A tear on or in between the pads.
Even if your dog favors one paw with its licking, it is crucial to examine both just in case. If an injury is not readily apparent, it is possible that your dog stepped on something sharp that did not penetrate the skin, walked on or through an irritant such as hot tar, or even got stung by a bee.
Each of these ailments is easily treatable with some animal first aid supplies, but if the condition does not improve, a trip to the vet may be necessary.
Skin Irritants and Allergies
Did you know that your dog can suffer from human-like skin conditions, like dermatitis? Though some breeds, including Irish Setters, Lhasa Apsos, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, and Dalmatians, are most susceptible to this condition, any breed could contract it as well.
While a diagnosis can only be made by a Veterinarian, if you do not see any visible wounds while inspecting your dog’s most licked paw, it very well could be the result of this unsightly problem.
A plethora of causes for canine dermatitis exist, most commonly being the result of bacterial problems. Additionally, food sensitivities, irritants in the yard, and certain plants can contribute to this condition.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Sometimes, your dog licking its paws can be caused by an allergic reaction from their food. Sure, you may have believed that your dog is a bottomless pit that can consume basically anything, but that is unfortunately not always the case.
Food allergies are infamous for causing itchy and irritated paws in canines, so a professional may suggest switching dog food brands. If the problem persists after the switch, a certain ingredient in any food may by the culprit and need to be eliminated from your fur baby’s diet entirely.
Believe it or not, the most common food allergen in dog food is proteins, including dairy, beef, chicken, soy, or gluten. Knowing your pet’s food and their reactions to it is salient in determining any allergic reactions.
Unfortunately, ticks and fleas are not the only pests that could be harming your dog. While a tell-tale sign of a flea infestation is itching, of course, another unsightly creature, known as mites, can be making your dog lick its paws. These parasitic mites cause a condition known as mange in canines, which can be incredibly irritating and painful for your pooch.
Mange is a skin disease that sometimes clears up on its own. However and when one does not find the source of the mites, some dogs must take medication and undergo skin scrapings to rid them of the condition. To make matters worse, mange can be transmitted from your dog to you, making it an immensely contagious problem.
If your dog has mange, it may lick its paws, but it will demonstrate other symptoms as well. Scabs on the skin, missing patches of fur, and a lackluster appearance of fur can all indicate mange, so be on the lookout.
One of the saddest realities to face as a dog owner is that your pooch can not readily tell you what is wrong with them. If your dog is licking its paws, but you notice none of the above symptoms or warnings, your pooch may be relaying to you that it is in pain.
In an attempt to alleviate their own pain, dogs lick their paws as a means to abate the symptoms affiliated with arthritis, Lyme disease, and even cancer. Just because the paw is being licked, though, it does not mean that the pain is stemming from there, oddly enough. Due to the difficulty of isolating the affected area in dogs, a medical diagnosis is almost always necessary.
If you and a doctor have spent many visits trying to determine why your dog keeps licking paws and is unsuccessful, your pooch may simply have a behavioral issue. Anxiety can result in obsessive behaviors, including paw licking.
Of course, your dog could also be bored and turn to this action as well. To abate both issues, try to spend more time with your pooch, take them for more walks or rides, or give them stress-relieving toys.
To finalize, dog ownership is a tricky and risky business. Thankfully, the good times always outweigh the bad and a little research goes a long way. Paying attention to your pooch can often tell you everything you need to know about them, making that little language barrier no problem at all.