So, your pooch is super into their paws right now... But how much paw attention is too much and when should you intervene? Whether this is biting, chewing, or licking, you’re in the right place if you think this behaviour seems frequent, prolonged, or intense...
If the area they are licking - paws, or otherwise - is red, swollen, bleeding, or smells you need to get them looked over by your vet stat. Plus, if your dog is limping, or can’t put weight on the area they are being overly attentive to, you also need to get them checked out.
However, if they’re not presenting the above symptoms but their newfound interest in their paws is concerning you, it might be one of the 5 following reasons that you can potentially help them with yourself…
Dogs can develop seasonal allergies just like us! As well as pollen and mould, they can also be allergic to cleaning products and chemicals you use at home - including washing detergents. In addition, they can also be allergic to foods, too. The most common food allergens for dogs are beef, dairy, chicken, and wheat.
If you own a Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Retriever, or a German Shepherd, these dog types are thought to be at a higher risk of developing food allergies and intolerances, so it’s good to be mindful of this as a pet parent to these breeds.
When your dog comes into contact with an external irritant like pollen, detergent, or food, their immune system identifies it as a threat and alerts the body to begin its defence mechanisms. One of the signs of this is excessive paw licking.
You can treat your dog with canine antihistamines, special shampoos, drugs, and natural remedies for these types of irritants.
Fleas can also cause allergic reactions in dogs. Flea saliva is by far the most common insect allergen for pooches and causes Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), so make sure you’re up to date on your flea and tick treatment.
Always consult with your vet when deciding on the best course of action to help your dog recover from, cope with, and reduce any suspected allergic reactions.
When it’s really cold, or really hot, your furry friend can experience bouts of dry skin, just like you! Your dog may be licking their paws to try and moisten them and relieve the dry sensation.
This could be their bodies screaming out for a boost of fatty acids, like Omega 3 to help boost the moisture in their skin. Fatty acids also have a host of other benefits, like promoting a shinier, healthier coat and joint lubrication.
Simply add a teaspoon of fish oil, olive oil, or coconut oil to their food bowl once a day and monitor for improvements... if the dry skin is severe, chat to your vet about specially formulated skin balms.
If your dog is licking and chewing at one paw, in particular, they could be nursing an injury. If they’re very active or got particularly excited during a walkover new terrain, this could explain how and where they hurt themselves.
Check their paws for wounds or punctures, or maybe even a fractured toe or claw. Check regularly for stuck grass seeds, splinters, cuts, or tears and help remove them yourself or pop to the vet.
Your pet can also burn their paws if it’s particularly hot outside. If you can’t put your barefoot on the concrete, neither can they. If you suspect a burnt pad, bathe it in cool water and keep your pup inside until it’s healed or the temperature is cooler.
Have a flat-faced, brachycephalicbreed of dog? Interdigital cysts are common in the front feet of these dogs. These type of cysts are painful swellings between the toes. Rest assured, they’re more often than not treatable by a vet, but can come back in the same place or appear on the other feet, so keep an eye out.
Did you know dogs over-groom themselves if they’re feeling lonely, bored, depressed, or anxious? It’s a common soothing mechanism if they feel ignored or aren’t being stimulated enough with exercise, play, and interaction.
That being said, some dogs (usually neglected or rescued pups) suffer separation anxiety no matter how much attention you pay to them. Monitor when your pooch starts engaging in their paw-licking behaviour and assess what else is going on around them that could be causing this psychological reaction.
Work long hours? Make sure to invest in a loving sitter who can shower them with affection and exercise whilst you’re out!
What may have started as a reaction to an injury or allergy, your dog may have discovered they enjoy the sensation! Unfortunately, though, the process of licking may cause new injuries or irritation to the paw as doggy tongues are rough and wet. If you allow your pooch to continue over licking, they’ll only make matters worse for themselves.
Chat to your vet about how best, and kindly, you can curb their new habit!
If you’re sure it’s not a habit, anxiety, irritated skin, an injury or an allergy, and they're up to date on their flea and tick treatment, it may be time to visit the groomers!
That’s right, they may just need a nail trim! If a dog’s nails are overgrown it can put uncomfortable pressure on their paw pad and make their daily activities difficult and so, they may be trying to rectify the long length themselves!
If a dog’s long nails are left to grow, this can cause them pain and lead to infection so make sure to keep them regularly trimmed (your groomer can advise on how often this should be done).
Fluffy, hairy breeds can become bothered by overgrown hair around their paws. The thick fur can become wedged in between their toes! Remember, if you’ve opted to be a fluffy pet parent, it is your duty to keep up with their haircuts for their comfort, health and happiness.
Let’s be clear – dogs lick themselves. It would be weird if they didn’t! But, it’s important to know when it’s too much. Like any good pet parent, regularly check their paws, keep up with all scheduled veterinary check-ups and keep an eye out for new behaviours like excessive paw licking.