Different creatures have different behaviors, and there are various reasons for displaying these behaviors. One of the most common behaviors for dogs is to chew or lick their paws. As a dog owner, you must have wondered why your dog does this often, and you might even be worried.
The reasons dogs lick their paws are; to alleviate itchiness, soothe sore spots, clean wounds, relieve stress, groom themselves, food allergies, ease boredom, bacteria problems, or parasitic infections. You can distract your dog by taking it for a walk, giving it toys, and playing with them.
The tendency to be worried when your dog is always licking its paws is normal. However, you should have basic pieces of knowledge that will help you make informed decisions when this occurs.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?
Dogs are animals that do not cease to amaze man with their quirky instinct and behaviors. Different behaviors like chasing their tails, spontaneous barking, amongst others. However, we want to look at why dogs lick their paws and what you can do about it.
Animals all have one thing in common; they love to groom themselves. While this behavior is more observable in cats, you would not know a dog is grooming itself, except you have knowledge of dogs.
Dogs lick and chew gently on their paws, tails, and legs to groom themselves. Self-grooming is a natural, healthy, and normal behavior, and it is a way the animals keep themselves clean.
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To Alleviate Itchiness
As a human, when you feel itchy, the natural response is to rub on the spot to ease it. Dogs do the same, too; they bite and lick their paws when itchy. The major cause of itchiness is insect bites.
Furthermore, environmental allergies can also trigger itchiness. Your dog may have allergies to some weeds, specks of dust, and grasses, and when triggered, it will lick its paws vigorously to relieve the itching. However, if the licking becomes frequent, you should take your dog for a medical examination.
To Soothe Sore Spots And Clean Wounds
It is uncommon knowledge that enzymes in dogs’ saliva aid the healing process. So, when a dog licks its paws, it is trying to clean wounds and soothe sore spots on its feet. A dog will also chew its paws to get rid of foreign objects like a thorn in its foot.
It is important always to check your dog’s paws to see if there are lacerations of foreign objects stuck in. If you examine it closely, you will see if it is red or there are swellings. If you observe something strange or your dog is constantly licking its paws, you should call a veterinarian doctor.
To Relieve Stress
All animals experience stress and have different ways of dealing with it. For dogs, licking their paws is a good way to relieve stress. For some humans, it is biting their nails; it has a similar effect on dogs. Although, the stress can be a result of anxiety or boredom.
If your puppy is already experiencing stress at that tender stage, it will cultivate an unhealthy habit of always licking its paws. There are better ways to relieve a dog of stress, and we will look into it later on.
The same way humans are allergic to certain foods, dogs are also allergic to some foods and treats. Some humans experience itchy throats, and dogs experience an uncomfortable sensation in their paws. Some ingredients will cause food allergies when used for dog foods and treats.
Ingredients like soy, wheat, chicken, beef, or dairy can trigger allergic reactions in a dog, causing it to lick its paws aggressively in an attempt to scratch the itch. If you notice that your dog licks its paws only after mealtime, it results from a food allergy, and you should visit a veterinarian doctor.
More to learn: Main Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Everything
To Ease Boredom
A dog that is bored or uninterested in engaging in any activity will lick its paws to ease itself. It can also lick its paws when it has separation anxiety (when a dog has been separated from its owner for a long time and is expectant).
Separation anxiety and boredom can also cause the dog to display unusual habits, like digging, excessive barking, and destructive chewing.
Parasitic, Bacterial, and Yeast Infections
Dogs are exposed to many parasitic critters; since they walk around on all four legs, they are exposed to ticks, fleas, mites, and lice that can cause irritation when they attach themselves to the dog. Although parasites will be logged on only one paw, your dog will constantly lick and scratch other parts.
When a dog frequently licks its paws, moisture can be built up, resulting in a yeast or bacteria infection. And this can cause a more aggressive paw licking that can lead to redness or swelling.
Further Reading: Why Is My Dog Shaking? Common Causes
How Can I Get My Dog To Stop Licking His Paws?
Whether you can identify why your dog is always licking its paws or not, you must curb the habit. Although you will likely identify the reason after careful observation, you still need to deter the dogs from licking their paws and train them not to do it.
Use Dog Boots or Socks as Paw Coverings
One of the most effective ways to stop your dog from constantly licking its paws is by covering up the paws with some clothing items. Covering up the paw will impede the dog from licking its paws. You can use different clothing items, like socks or other small clothing. Wrap it around the paw and use Velcro strips or heavy tape to seal it.
Another way is by wearing dog boots for your dogs. A dog wearing dog boots is unable to lick its paws. However, the dog can chew through the boot to lick the paws if the irritation is too much. So, you need to monitor your dog while wearing dog boots. Although, you have to train your dog to get used to the boots.
Use Bitter Apple And Citrus
Another uncommon piece of knowledge is that the juice from the citrus can be used to prevent a dog from licking its body. Dogs do not like the taste of citrus, so if you apply a few drops to its paws, it will not lick it. The juice from oranges, grapefruit, limes, and lemons effectively stops a dog from licking its paws.
The strong smell of citrus fruits puts dogs off, so they will never lick the part of the body it is applied to. You can also use bitter apples in the same way as citrus. Pochade a bottle of black apple and spray it on your dog’s paws to prevent it from licking.
Train Your Dog
You may think it is impossible to train a dog to stop licking its paws; it is. However, it is a gradual process and will take time before you can stop it from licking its paws. It will require a lot of supervision, patience, and endurance. First, try to engage your dog to keep it occupied. A busy dog will not lick its paws.
Provide your dog with chew toys and other distractions that would be more desirable than licking their paws. Stop the dog every time it licks its paws; it will stop licking its paws with time. Once the dog knows that licking its paws is unwanted behavior, you have achieved 75% of the job.
Although licking paws is an instinctive dog behavior, you should not make it a habit for your dog. Moreover, it would be best if you did everything possible to dissuade your dog from licking its paw. However, it would help to find out why your dog is always licking its paws before you take further steps.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.