Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws? 4 Possible Reasons

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Dogs lick their paws as part of the normal self-grooming process, so paw-licking makes sense as part of that. Especially after you pup has been playing outside or getting a little messy, it’s not uncommon for her to want to clean herself up a bit. But if you notice that paw-licking has turned excessive, if the skin on your dog’s paw pads has broken from licking, or if she’s focusing on just one paw, then you should look a little closer to make sure everything’s okay.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the top reasons, varying in severity, why your pooch could be incessantly licking her paws. If any of these look like they may apply to your pup’s situation, then we recommend contacting your veterinarian for further guidance.

1. Pain

According to the American Kennel Club, if your dog has experienced an injury like a bee sting or suffers from arthritis, she might try to cope with it by licking her paws. Additionally, if your pup has a skin condition like dermatitis where her skin is itchy most of the time, licking may soothe the irritation of an itch much like scratching does for us.

If you believe your dog to be suffering from itchy skin, you may want to consult our list of the best itch relief medicines designed for dogs. Usually, if your pup has been stung by a bee or bit by a spider, you’ll be able to find the mark on her body, and the ailment will heal itself over time. If it’s a medical condition like arthritis, however, then your vet can recommend a more long-term relief option.

2. Food Allergies

It’s not all that uncommon for dogs to experience allergies to dog foods or treat ingredients containing things like dairy, wheat, soy, beef, or chicken. Just as some humans experience food allergies through an itchy throat, dogs’ paws can become itchy from the wrong foods, which they may lick in response. If you notice this behavior, especially after mealtimes, then it might be worth contacting your veterinarian, who may recommend a particular diet for your pup or eliminate certain ingredients to determine the problematic food.

3. Parasites

Another issue your pup could experience are the pesky fleas, ticks, lice, and mites that can make their ways into your dog’s skin. Paw-licking could be a sign this has occurred, but to be certain you can carefully observe your pup’s paws where you may see these parasites hanging on.

The most common types of parasites and worms that manage to plant themselves in your pup’s bodies are hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. Hookworm larvae are the ones that can burrow into your pup’s paws, which oftentimes results in inflammation and soreness between their toes. It’s possible that when dogs lick their paws, they ingest the larvae that way, allowing for a different entry into your dog’s body. If you suspect your dog could have worms or another kind of parasite, you should contact your veterinarian so they can provide a remedy for your furry friend.

4. Behavioral Issues

When your pup is experiencing things like boredom or separation anxiety, the mental discomfort can express itself through unhealthy behaviors like licking her paws, as well as digging, barking, or getting into things she shouldn’t. If you allow your dog to have access to certain items like chew toys while you’re away from home, it may console the problem.

If you’re ever uncertain or worried about the amount of paw-licking your pup is doing, it’s best to contact your veterinarian, who can provide information on your options and take a closer look.

Zoë Butler
Author: Zoë Butler

Content Writer for DogFriendly.com.

Zoë Butler
Author: Zoë Butler

Content Writer for DogFriendly.com.

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