Dogs spend a certain amount of time each day grooming themselves. Paw licking is a natural part of this activity.
However, excessive paw licking is a sign of an underlying problem and needs your attention.
Working our Why Your Dog Is licking his paws
Paw licking is a behavior. Dealing with behaviors means that you first have to work out whether it is a habit or caused by a medical condition.
The first thing you should do is examine your dog’s paws closely. If he is licking one paw more than the other, that is the obvious place to start.
While physically examining your dog, look out for the following things:
Wounds and abrasions
Burrs or other foreign objects between the toes
General irritation (if you live in an area where de-icer is used, this is a common cause of paw irritation)
If you find something, clean and dress the area.
If there is no obvious physical cause of the paw licking, it is time to take your dog to the vet.
Taking your dog to the vet.
Paw licking can be caused by food or flea allergies or the canine equivalent of hay fever.
Your vet will take samples from your dog in preparation for a culture or analysis by a pathologist. When these tests have been completed, your vet will recommend a course of treatment.
This treatment could include:
Steroids to reduce the inflammation
Washing with a special shampoo
Food allergies are more difficult to diagnose and may require a food trial
When all possible medical reasons for paw licking have been eliminated, other causes need to be considered.
Other reasons for paw licking in dogs
Mini behavioral problems in dogs start because of boredom. If your dog spends long periods alone while you are at work, he finds other things to amuse himself
These can develop into habits.
There are things you can do to relieve the boredom, but it is hard to find a complete solution without staying at home with him. Before leaving for work, your dog should have an adequate exercise period. Take him for a 30-minute walk or take him to a dog park where he can get some vigorous exercise and spend some time socialising with other dogs.
Related Article: How To Keep Your Dog Happy When He Is Left Home Alone.
Dogs can become anxious for many reasons, the most common of these is separation anxiety. This often happens when your dog is separated from you for extended periods.
It is related to the boredom problem discussed earlier.
Related article: Separation Anxiety In Dogs.
Moderating the behavior, will require patience and persistence. In fact, it is a very hard habit to break.
You have to break the cycle and take your dog’s attention away from his paws. You can get him to stand up and take him for a short walk every time he does it, but in the end this will drive you just as crazy as listening to or watching him lick his paws.
Some experts recommend the use of a medical collar or e-collar to help solve the problem.