Even the best pet parents know canine behavior can be nothing short of confusing at times. One of the most baffling -- and often annoying -- quirks dog lovers face is why their best furry friend has developed a neurotic habit of licking their paws. Sure, every dog loves a good mani pedi, but when paw licking becomes obsessive it can lead to cracked, broken skin and owners who are on the verge of tearing their hair out too!
No need to join your canine companion in their anxiety. Fetch this simple guide to the most common reasons why your dog keeps licking their paws and how to provide fast relief for those stressed out pads.
Food and Environmental Allergies
Canine allergies are one of the toughest ailments for pet parents to manage, especially when the cause is unknown. Both food and environmental allergens can cause skin and coat irritation. These pesky sensitivities often affect a dog's paws and ears as the most obvious symptoms of discomfort. Allergies can be caused by everything from wheat and soy to mold spores, dust mites, and plant pollen. Identifying the source of your pet's irritation is key when it comes to treating excessive paw licking.
If you aren't sure what's causing your dog's allergies, try an elimination diet to rule out specific food sensitivities. Keep a journal of when and where your dog experiences flare-ups. This can help owners remember if a specific hiking trail or park triggered an environmental allergy. Your vet can help you pair down the list of culprits and decide on an appropriate treatment. Many owners turn to all-natural, holistic dog food as simplicity is often the best remedy for managing allergies. Likewise, a soothing, therapeutic oatmeal shampoo can easily replace harsh cortisone baths for dogs who suffer from environmental allergies.
Aches, Pains, and Injuries
Even the most daring adventure pups need to remember to take it slow every now and then. Always check your dog's paws for signs of injury if you notice excessive licking and chewing. When dogs chew their paw pads, this can be an indication that something is wrong. Cuts, scrapes, and cracks are a common ailment. Dogs licking paws can also be a symptom of arthritis pain. Remember; our best furry friends can't tell us what's wrong. It's up to their diligent pet parents to be vigilant of abnormal behavior that may be a sign of soreness.
Hit those sore, achy, and cracked paws with a double dose of vitamin-rich treatment balm for cuts and scrapes followed by a healing coat of paw protection for your next outdoor adventure. If your senior pup is experiencing chronic joint pain, consider boosting their daily diet with glucosamine supplements to help alleviate stiffness.
Take a close look at your dog's paw pads. If the skin appears broken, red, irritated and flaky, this can be a sign of eczema and canine dermatitis. Often, a dull coat will accompany poor skin as well as raw nose and ears. Sometimes paws can appear normal when dermatitis is present. This troublesome condition is typically caused by a sensitivity to harsh chemicals found in commercial dog shampoos, carpet cleaners, and lawn treatments. The itchiness can cause even the most relaxed canine to turn into a determined paw chewer overnight!
Consider switching to an all-natural grooming routine. Sulfates, parabens, and perfumes found in most dog shampoos can exacerbate irritation. Stick with ingredients that are nourishing and hydrating, naturally designed to lock in moisture and nutrients that dogs need for healthy skin. A rejuvenating blend of botanicals helps remove dead skin cells and pave the way for fresh, fabulous smelling fur and feet.
If you've been out exploring the trails and parks with your canine companion, pay close attention to your pet's post-adventure routine. If you notice limping and discomfort along with excessive paw licking, there's a good chance you brought home an unwanted guest. Cheatgrass, houndstongue, and other burrs, bristles, rocks, thorns, and ticks can easily lodge in between a dog's paw pads and cause pain and irritation.
Make it a habit to perform a routine coat and paw check after exploring wooded areas or off-leash parks. Remove any uninvited guests carefully with a pair of tweezers. Booties are a great idea for dogs who prefer the backcountry.
Anxiety and Stress
Sometimes the issue can be caused by factors that are not directly clinical in nature. Anxiety and stress affect canine behavior in a negative way...for example, licking their paws. In specific, separation anxiety in dogs often manifests as repetitive behavior. Boredom can lead to over grooming which may cause sores, cracks, and rawness on your dog's sensitive paw pads. Owners may notice a shift after moving to a new home, when adjusting to a new work schedule, upon returning from travel, or simply in dogs that are more prone to anxiety and stress than others.
No one likes to see their best furry friend sad! If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, be proactive in mitigating situations that may trigger their stress.
Always leave your pet with a trusted petsitter or canine savvy boarding facility. A good quality facility is happy to allow owners to tour their pet hotel prior to leaving their furbaby. Avoid commercial kennels and air travel with a stressed-out pup whenever possible.
Provide plenty of toys and lots of exercise throughout the day to keep your dog stimulated and fight off boredom. When away at work, consider interactive dog toys for especially high energy pups.
For dogs that suffer from everyday anxieties or specific triggers such as fireworks, storms, and new environments, many owners have found relief for their sensitive companions with Thundershirts as an alternative to medications.
Learning to speak dog can be a confusing prospect for new pet owners and old pros. Thankfully, canine behavior can offer a clue when something is wrong with our companion animals. If excessive paw licking is causing you and your dog to lose sleep, don't stress. Our canine experts are here to help with amazingly nourishing products and fabulous resources for canine allergy sufferers and more! Don't forget to Join the Pack for updates and special offers from Loyal Canine Co.