Paw licking is a common behavior for dogs. In many instances it is harmless, but when the licking becomes excessive, a solution is needed.
Frequent licking can lead to skin irritation and the action could mean your pet is already uncomfortable. Bulldogs, including French, American and English Bulldogs, seem to suffer from this problem more than any other breed.
Why is my dog licking its paws?
Licking that begins suddenly could be due to an injury. Inspect the paws carefully for puncture wounds, thorns between the toes, and even broken toenails.
An overabundance of yeast can cause dogs to have itchy feet. The yeast can also affect the ears and the skin. The skin may feel waxy, there could be a brown discharge in the ears, and your pup may have a musty odor if yeast is the culprit.
Food and skin allergies are the most common cause of excessive itching and the main reason French Bulldogs lick their paws. Allergic reactions have many causes. Secondary skin infections are also a concern because the intense itching could lead to an injury to the skin from overaggressive chewing.
Boredom and anxiety can cause many behavioral problems. Paw licking is one of the ways pets soothe or entertain themselves.
The paws of pets are vulnerable to whatever they walk through. Salt and ice melting chemicals can irritate the skin in the winter. Lawn chemicals like pesticides or fertilizers are possible concerns in the summer. Another summertime worry is the hot pavement. The foot pads can burn or become irritated from the heat of the pavement. Pollen, mold and other allergens also affect the paws.
Cushing’s Disease develops when a non-cancerous pituitary tumor prevents the dog from producing enough thyroid hormone or causes them to make too much cortisol. Itchy skin is just one of the symptoms of this treatable condition.
The discomfort of arthritis can encourage dogs to lick or chew their feet in an attempt to relieve their pain. An older dog licking near a joint is a frequent first sign of arthritis.
In rare cases, the licking could be due to cancer. Skin cancer and tumors in the feet can cause the pet to lick their paws to relieve the sensation caused by the disease.
How do I stop my dog from licking its paws?
A change in diet can help. Grain-free, organic foods may reduce itching when the problem is allergy related. Low-carb meals prevent excess yeast growth on the skin because the yeast needs sugar to thrive. Dog food rich in antioxidants and nutrients helps to keep the immune system strong so allergy symptoms and yeast infections occur less often.
Benadryl can relieve allergy-related itching or you could try out allergy supplements. A prescription may be needed to counteract the yeast or any infection in the skin. There are several prescription medications used to treat Cushing’s Disease. Supplements, anti-inflammatories and pain relievers help to soothe the discomfort of arthritis.
Treated shampoos can relieve allergy-irritated skin and kill the yeast. Soak their paws in a bucket of warm water with baking soda or Epsom salts to reduce inflammation. Make certain to dry the paws fully after the bath to prevent more yeast growth.
Physical activity is the best cure for nervous licking or paw licking due to boredom. Take the dog for walks and look for puzzle treat toys that encourage active play. Hire a pet walker or pet sitter to break up the work week if you can’t always be available!
Dog owners can try to solve the issue on their own through diet changes, baths, and activity. Paw licking that continues despite the attempts should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian. Excessive paw licking is usually a curable issue, but it is a sign that the pet is in distress and should not be ignored.