Is Your Dog’s Paw Licking a Problem?
Paw licking is a normal part of your dog’s grooming process but if your dog is licking his paws raw, then that’s a sign of something else.
There are many reasons for paw licking and they range from habit to a medical problem.
First, is the paw licking a new behavior?
If your dog has been doing this for a long time then it’s probably a habit like you tapping your foot or biting your fingernails. If it’s new, it could be an indication of an allergy or another problem.
A Few Common Reasons for Excessive Paw Licking:
- Pain in the paw
Is Your Pet Only Licking One Paw?
If your pet is only licking one paw, that’s usually a sign of an injury or irritant. Check for a pebble lodged between the nooks and crannies or for a cut. If your pet has a cut, you’ll need to clean it and bandage it so it can heal.
If you don’t find anything wrong with it, you may want to clean it anyway and keep an eye on it over the next few days.
If Your Pet Licks Multiple Paws
If your pet licks his paws until they’re raw and even bleeding, that’s a usually a sign of stress, boredom or allergies. You’ll want to make a few schedule changes and see if it makes a difference. If nothing else, you’ll have more to tell the vet when you next visit.
If it’s boredom or stress, exercise will help.
Is Your Dog Getting Enough Exercise?
Bored or anxious dogs often destroy furniture, toys, pillows and yes, even self-harming such as licking their paws raw.
The cure is more exercise. Take your pet for frequent walks. Go to the dog park, play Frisbee, get an automatic ball thrower if your dog loves chasing (and retrieving) balls. A dog walker can help if you don’t have the time yourself. Puppies of all breeds require more exercise than senior dogs. You may find this solves the problem.
If you double or triple the amount of daily exercise your dog gets and he’s still licking and chewing his paws raw, then the reason may be allergy related.
What Can You Do About a Dog Allergy?
It’s difficult to diagnose dog allergies. They can be environmental or food related. You can have testing done at the vet but they aren’t always able to diagnose the problem. So, what are your options? One of the most common tactics is to change food. Choose a grain free food with a different protein source than what your pet normally eats. There are many available such as
Holistic Select, Blue or Organix.
Hold a family meeting and make sure everyone is on board with not feeding the dog anything else. No crackers or rogue “treats” as this could be the allergy trigger. It’s essential your pet not eat anything else but the approved food for several weeks. Otherwise, you won’t have the information you need.
Over a period of two or three weeks, watch your dog carefully. It can take 3-4 weeks to get all the old food out of your pet’s system. If the problem is allergy related, you should start to see a difference within a month or so, maybe even sooner.
In the meantime, put a healing ointment like aloe vera on your pet’s paws and cover them with doggie socks or bandages. This will protect them and give them a chance to heal.
You can use Snuggy Boots Suspender System to keep socks in place and prevent paw licking.
At this point, you’ve removed a possible cause of the paw licking and if you’ve covered the paws, they can start the healing process. This may be enough to break the cycle.
If your pet does well on the new food and stops the paw licking, you may have discovered the source of the problem.
If none of these approaches work, your pet could have an infection of some sort. Your vet will be able to tell you more.
What about you? What’s been your experience with your pet licking his paws raw? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.