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Why Is Your Dog Constantly Licking His Paws? 12 Things to Do

Let’s be real here: seeing your dog constantly licking his paws is not fun. It raises some red flags and makes you wonder what’s going on. What’s the reason behind this behavior? In this guide, we’ll dig deeper into the issue, explore common causes, and give expert tips to help you understand and tackle the problem effectively for your furry friend’s well-being.

Why is my dog constantly licking his paws?

Various factors can cause this behavior, and it’s essential to identify the underlying cause to get your furry friend the proper treatment. Here are some of the most common reasons why your dog constantly licking his paws:

dog constantly licking his paws

Environmental: Consider the time of year (pollen season?) and recent walks (new park with different types of grass?). Does your dog also have itchy skin, watery eyes, or sneezing?

Food: Has your dog’s diet changed recently? Any new treats or ingredients introduced?

2. Skin conditions

Dry skin: Check for flaky, cracked paw pads, especially in dry or cold weather.

Yeast infections: Notice a reddish, yeasty smell between the toes?

Bacterial infections: Look for redness, swelling, or pus discharge from the paw.

Dermatitis: Redness, irritation, and possible scabbing, often worsened by licking.

3. Parasites

Fleas: Flea dirt (tiny black specks) near the base of the fur? Visible fleas hopping around?

Mites: Check for crusty patches on the ear flaps or between the toes.

Internal parasites: Check for recent stool samples with visible worms, or consult your vet for a stool test.

4. Injuries

Foreign objects: Thoroughly examine the paw pads and between the toes for thorns, burrs, or other stuck objects.

Cuts or wounds: Look for swelling, redness, or bleeding.

5. Boredom or anxiety

Just like humans, dogs can lick their paws for comfort or to relieve boredom. Does your dog get enough exercise and mental stimulation? Any recent changes in routine or environment?

6. Compulsive disorder

Some dogs develop compulsive behaviors like paw licking due to underlying psychological issues. 

12 tips on how to stop your dog from licking his paws

1. Vet visit

If your furry buddy is constantly licking his paws, it might mean that something bigger is going on, like allergies, pesky parasites, or infections. To help your pup, take him to a vet who can act like a detective to figure out what’s causing the licking. Once the vet figures it out, they’ll give you a plan to get rid of it. It could be medication, treatments, or soothing solutions for his skin. Remember, a quick visit to the vet is the first thing you should do to get his paws back to normal.

2. Environmental adjustments

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Does your dog just can’t stop licking his paws after playing outside? Well, it could be due to those pesky pollen particles! Or, have you recently switched up his diet? Sometimes, dietary changes can cause some problems, too. Once you identify the culprit, try minimizing his exposure. Limit his outdoor playtime during spring, switch his food, or consider hypoallergenic options.

In addition, don’t forget about indoor allergens like dust mites. Wash his bedding regularly and vacuum frequently to keep those microscopic demons at bay. Proactively managing his environment can help your furry friend feel more comfortable and enjoy his playtime.

3. Parasite prevention

In case the reason behind your dog’s excessive licking is tiny parasites like fleas or mites, preventing them is key to stopping the licking cycle. Here’s what you can do:

Consult a vet: It’s best to take advice from a vet on the proper medication for your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle. They can recommend the most effective option, which can be chewable tablets or topical solutions.

Protect all year round: Fleas and mites are present in any season. Even winter can harbor these parasites. Stick to the recommended schedule, even during colder months, to ensure year-round protection.

Check paws regularly: Check your dog’s paws, especially between the toes, for signs of fleas or mites. This helps to detect the problem early and allows for quicker treatment, which means less paw-licking misery for your furry friend.

4. Elizabethan collar

The Elizabethan collar may not be the most fashionable accessory, but it’s a temporary hero in the fight against paw-licking. This plastic shield acts as a physical barrier, stopping your dog from reaching and irritating his paws further. Plus, with a bit of creativity, you can even personalize the collar with decorations or fun fabric, turning it into a badge of healing bravery! 

5. Soothing soaks and paw covers

If your dog’s paws are irritated, you can give him a warm water soak with some Epsom salts or diluted apple cider vinegar. It’s pretty amazing how much of a difference this can make. It’ll help to cool things down and reduce inflammation, which should stop him from licking. For extra TLC, follow the soak with a gentle pat dry and a soothing paw balm recommended by your vet.

If you’re planning on taking your dog outside, consider buying him some booties or paw covers. They’re pretty stylish and will keep paws from getting irritated again.

6. Moisturize dry paws

Winter’s harsh weather and rough sidewalks can leave your dog’s paws cracked and hurting, making him lick his paws nonstop. You don’t want your furry friend to suffer from “rough terrain terrier” syndrome, right? That’s why it’s essential to talk to your vet and get recommendations for the best paw balm or ointment.

Apply a small amount of it gently on his paws every morning and night, paying extra attention to any cracks or rough spots. It’s like a fancy spa treatment for your furry friend, so he can walk around without any worries.

7. Mental stimulation

Our furry buddies also feel restless sometimes, just like us. If your dog doesn’t have enough physical and mental exercise, he tends to get bored and start licking his paws, which is not good. So, make sure he stays engaged and active. 

You can make his playtime more exciting by trying out new things like agility courses, hide-and-seek with treats, or interactive puzzle toys. Keeping him occupied and tired is the key to a happy and well-behaved pup. Let’s get started and have some fun!

8. Chew toys and treats

Instead of letting your dog’s tongue be his only source of fun, give him some chew toys and treats! Get toys that match his chewing style and what he likes. For example, you could get knotted ropes, squeaky toys, or even frozen KONG filled with tasty kibble or peanut butter.

Remember to rotate the toys to make him feel new and exciting. By offering these fun alternatives, you’ll give your dog some great things to do and reduce his urge to lick. Plus, you’ll help his teeth and gums stay strong and healthy!

9. Alternative calming strategies

If you find that your furry friend is repeatedly licking his paws due to anxiety rather than physical discomfort, it may be time to explore some calming techniques to help him relax. One approach is to talk to your vet about natural, anxiety-reducing treats that contain L-theanine or chamomile. These ingredients can gently soothe nerves and promote relaxation. 

Another option is to use diffusers that release calming pheromones or essential oils like lavender to create a serene environment that can ease his worries and minimize licking. Additionally, provide your pup with cozy hideaways, such as a covered crate or a designated quiet corner, for relaxation and to help him escape stressful situations.

10. Regular paw cleaning

After every walk, grab a damp cloth and gently wipe away any dirt, pollen, or other icky stuff that is stuck between your dog’s paw pads and toes. Pay extra attention to the spaces in between, where the debris likes to hide. This simple routine can avoid paw-licking behavior due to discomfort or itchiness.

11. Trim long nails

Trimming your pup’s nails might seem like an easy job, but it can make all the difference in the paw-licking department. Long nails will dig into paw pads, making every step uncomfortable and throwing off their balance. This annoyance might quickly escalate into obsessive licking. So, you should grab a great clipper and trim those toenails every few weeks. The trick is to keep it short and sweet for happy and healthy paws!

Here’s a pro tip: if your dog hates the clipping session, try to make it a fun bonding experience. Offer the pup some treats as rewards, distract with favorite toys, and try to keep the whole process gentle and positive.

12. Avoid harsh chemicals

Your furry friend’s paws are sensitive, so avoid harsh cleaners and use pet-safe products instead. If you’re treating your lawn, try using organic options or keep your dog away from the treated area until the chemicals dry completely. 

After daily walks, rub his paws, especially during winter, to remove irritants like sidewalk salt that could cause itching. By reducing his exposure to chemicals, you can keep your four-legged companion’s paws healthy and prevent him from licking too much.

Conclusion

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If your dog keeps licking his paws all the time, it could be due to allergies or behavior issues. To help your furry friend out, you need to find out what’s causing the problem. Fortunately, you can do many things to fix it, like taking him to the vet, making some environmental changes, and finding ways to comfort him. Then, both of you can enjoy better days.

Last but not least…

For an all-in-one solution for most behavior problems your dog has now or may have in the future, check out this free online dog training workshop that improves dog-owner relationships and prevents poor behavior like: 

    • Barking
    • Accidents
    • Leash pulling
    • Not coming when called
    • Jumping on people
    • Running out the door
    • Chasing cars or animals
    • Chewing
    • Nipping or biting
    • Begging
    • Getting too excited
    • Ignoring commands

The workshop is conducted by Dr. Alexa Diaz, Ph.D., one of the most respected service dog trainers in the United States, and Eric Presnall, host of the Animal Planet TV show “Who Let the Dogs Out.” It has made life easier for many dog owners. Click here to get it.

About us: Pet Chao is a community for Asian dog breed enthusiasts. Our goal is to keep you and your four-legged friend healthy and happy by providing valuable resources and fostering a like-minded community.

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