When a dog licks or chews at its paw, it's because...
It's important to investigate why your dog is licking his paws and whether this behavior indicates a medical problem that needs veterinary attention if the behavior persists. Unfortunately, there is a wide variety of causes for dogs to lick or chew at their paws.
Discover why your dog is licking his paws, recognize any additional symptoms, and take the necessary steps to treat and safeguard his paws with this guide.
The Top 18 Causes of Dog Paw Licking and Chewing
As part of their routine self-grooming, dogs will lick their paws on occasion. But if you find that your dog is constantly licking his paws, or that he is licking one paw in particular, there may be another reason.
Listed below are possible causes for your dog's paw-biting and paw-licking behaviors.
Allergies could be to blame for your dog's scratchy paws. Your dog's skin, fur, or digestive tract may become inflamed and itchy if it comes into contact with an allergen.
If your dog's paws are constantly being licked and are red, dark, or stained brown, it could be a sign of allergies. Allergens on your dog's skin can be reduced by giving him a bath or at least wiping his paws down after he's been outside.
Even though hydrocortisone topical creams and sprays formulated for dogs can temporarily alleviate the itch, more severe licking requires systemic medication (prescription meds that affect the entire body).
Your dog may have a torn or broken nail on one paw if it keeps licking that paw. Grass, cloth, or carpet can all play a role in this happening. Nail bleeding, swollen paws, and pain are common symptoms.
When the damaged area of the toe is surgically removed, the toe will heal. Anti-infective and anti-inflammatory medications can also be beneficial. To have the torn portion of your nail removed and medication prescribed, visit your veterinarian.
Overgrown nails can be painful for a dog's paws, which can lead to excessive licking of those paws.
Nails that have grown too long will extend beyond the dog's paw pads and may even curl back toward the paws.
Nail trimming on a regular basis can help prevent this. Get in touch with your vet if you're not confident in your ability to cut your dog's nails or if they're already overgrown.
Paw burns can be caused by contact with hot pavement or other surfaces, or by exposure to undiluted chemicals like those found in floor cleaners.
A dog's paws may be blistered or peeling, and they may be red and cracked. Potentially necessary medications include those for pain management and the treatment of secondary infections. These can be obtained from your veterinarian.
Sometimes a dog's paws will get itchy in the winter because of the snow or de-icing salt. Redness of the affected areas is possible due to the extreme cold and irritation from the salt. If you think the snow or de-icers are irritating your pet's paws, make an appointment with the vet.
A possible preventative measure is to wear booties whenever you go outside during the winter. Alternatively, you can use paw wax or dog-friendly de-icers in your own yard.
Ticks are parasites that can infest a dog's skin and cause disease if they find their way in between the dog's toes or under its pads. If your dog is uncomfortable, he or she may lick their paws to relieve the pain.
Ticks need to be carefully extracted using a tick removal tool in order for the tick's embedded mouth parts to come loose.
In order to avoid this, make sure your dog is always treated with flea and tick preventatives.
If an animal has mites, it will experience hair loss, scabbing, inflammation, and intense itching that will lead it to lick its skin constantly.
The demodex mite, which lives in the hair follicle, and the scabies mite, which lives on the skin's surface, are the two possible types of mites. Hair loss, inflammation, and bacterial skin infections are all symptoms of both.
If demodex mites are only found on the paws, it could be an indication of an immune-suppressing disease like Cushing's syndrome or cancer.
Medication, either topically or orally, is effective against mites. Oral medications like NexGard and Bravecto for demodex and Ivermectin for scabies require a doctor's prescription. OTC scabies mite treatments like lime sulfur dips stink of sulfur and can leave a stain on light-colored fur or upholstery. A veterinarian's oversight of their use is also recommended.
A dog's incessant licking of its paws is often an indication of anxiety or boredom.
For dogs, the motion is calming. Hair loss and thickened, raised skin, or a lick granuloma, may be visible in this area.
Synotic plus banamine is a prescription medication that can be used to treat lick granulomas. The lesion that develops from incessant licking, most commonly on the wrist, can be treated with this anti-inflammatory cream.
The use of a prescribed topical medication can be helpful, but determining the root of the anxiety is also essential. Get in touch with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist for advice on diagnosing the problem and developing a treatment plan for your dog.
Your dog may be licking their paws because they have foot cysts. These are swollen areas, typically between the toes, that are full of fluid and may contain embedded debris.
Cysts are benign growths that can develop slowly over time and contain thick material. When a cyst begins to drain, it may be necessary to remove the embedded substance.
For cyst treatment, please consult your veterinarian. In the case of infections, they may recommend oral antibiotics.
Frictional areas, like those between the toes, are ripe for blister development. Because of the potential for pain, the dog may try to lick at them.
In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend oral antibiotics to ensure a speedy recovery.
During your dog's outdoor explorations, he or she may have been bitten or stung by an insect. When a dog's paw is itchy or swollen, it will lick at it in an attempt to relieve the discomfort.
Most commonly used treatments for these symptoms are oral antihistamines and topical steroid creams. If you think your dog has been bitten or stung by an insect, don't delay in taking him to the vet.
Your dog may lick at his or her paws if something painful, like a thorn or pebble, is stuck there. These are typically tucked away in the cracks between the toes or the pads of the feet, or even under the fur.
Carefully inspect the canine's paw for foreign objects. Once the painful stimulus is eliminated, the irritation should go away.
Environmental allergies and food allergies are common reasons for a dog's obsessive licking of their paws or chewing.
It is common for dogs to develop environmental allergies between the ages of 2 and 4. They are cyclical, occurring when allergens are present, and can cause discomfort in the eyes, nose, and throat, among other areas, depending on the individual.
A dog's first symptoms of food allergies typically appear before the dog turns one. They appear all year round and develop in response to the protein the dog is eating. Symptoms of food allergies can include a rash that spreads to the face and ears.
How to prevent your dog's paws from getting hurt
Be sure to check your dog's paws regularly.
Maintaining a routine of closely examining your dog's paws on a daily basis will allow you to spot issues at an early stage, when they are easier to treat.
Check between the toes, under the nails, on the pads, and in the crevices of the paws. Check for signs of damage, irritation, foreign objects, or abnormality.
Put on some Paw Balm
A pet-specific moisturizing cream or lotion may be useful for protecting your dog's paws.
To be safe, steer clear of anything a dog could ingest, like human lotions or medicines.
- Organic Paw Balm Nourisher by Pawtitas
Doggy Paws Need Cleaning
Environmental allergens on your dog's skin can be reduced by washing or thoroughly wiping his paws after walks.
Maintain a Regular Nail-Trimming Schedule
Maintaining regular nail trims will prevent your dog's nails from growing too deeply into his paws and causing him pain when he walks.
Protect your dog's paws by giving them winter boots.
Protect your dog's paws from the snow by covering them with boots or a salve made specifically for dogs' paws.
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