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Excessive Licking: Dog Paws

dog licking hotspotDoes your dog like to lick and lick and lick? When your dog licks his paws it is not always good! Sometimes a dog can lick their paws too much and cause the skin to become raw. Excessive licking can also indicate another problem.  If you see your pup licking a lot, you may need to take your dog to the vet.   Excessive licking could mean your dog has a mild to severe infection, arthritis, or thorns are jammed in their padding.

Just because your dog is licking a lot doesn’t necessarily mean that something is physically wrong. If you do not see any issues or swelling, it might be a bad habit they are forming based on anxiety, boredom, or stress.

Possible Causes of Licking:

Thorns: The longer your pets fur the more likely they will attract nature when outdoors. Sometimes this results in thorns or burrs that will need to be removed since they become painful if they get jammed in the skin, especially between the pads. Also note that sticky leaves can also irritate your pet. In this case they are licking their paws excessively to remove the smell and texture.

Stress or Boredom: When a dog is bored or stressed they may tend to turn to their legs and paws… this can turn into a bad habit that will cause their skin to flake and will look similar to eczema. Simple solution: If your pet is licking their paw until it is soggy and wet, PLAY with them immediately! He or she is probably just craving for some attention. Play with them for at least 30 minutes to distract them. This will also reduce their stress levels and provide well needed exercise.

Arthritic Inflammation: Some breeds, as they get older, may develop arthritis and their joints may become painful and inflamed. One solution is acupuncture. Take your pet to an acupuncturist who understands understand animal qi (energy) so they can place stainless steel needles in their skin to reduce the inflammation.

Swollen Pad: Usually this comes from him or her being stung. If from a bee it won’t hurt them but the pad will inflame slightly for about a day. However if it was something else like a spider, this will hurt them greatly and you must take them to your veterinary immediately as this can also cause infection. Also it can be from a shard of glass that has embedded itself in their foot. If you see the glass, you can pull it out gently with tweezers. If you cannot see it, your vet will be able to remove this safely.

Fur Knots: Dogs can lick their paws to remove knots. Place your finger gently between the pads where the skin is to feel if there are any knots. Then pull up the knot and slowly cut it off. Be careful not to nip your pet by making sure that your thumb is by the skin and you cut above it. If you let the knots go they will tighten the skin and make walking uncomfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself then a pet groomer or vet can do it easily.

Don’t forget fleas: One of the most common causes of excessive paw licking are fleas! It comes from the generalized itchiness and staph infections that go along with a flea problem since fleas themselves are rare on the paws. Please note that although no fleas or flea dirt are found on your pet this is no guarantee that fleas are not the cause or a contribution to the paw-licking problem. That is because the itching resulting from a fleabite, or even the presence of a flea that did not bite, go on for a long time after the flea has left. Sometimes a flea’s mere presence stimulates licking and itching.

Certain breeds seem to suffer from paw problems a bit more than others. Among those breeds are Labrador retrievers, terriers of all kinds, poodles, Chihuahuas and Maltese. White and blond-haired breeds may not be more prone to paw licking but when they do have the problem, their saliva discolors their paw fur and makes it more apparent.

If you do not know what the cause is your veterinarian can help you find it.

Treating Sore Feet

Fun with the Feet: Foot soaks! This is a great way to disinfect the paws of your dog whether their paws are infected, irritated or have been exposed to certain contaminants. By cleaning your dog’s feet properly you can avoid some of the problems mentioned above.

Whether in a tub or with a hose make sure to use an iodine solution (it is a natural antifungal, antiviral, safe, non-stinging, non-toxic, and non-abrasive) to disinfectant your pet’s paws for at least 30 seconds. Rinse and then pat the paws dry with a towel.

Other effective solutions you can use are: half a cup of vinegar per gallon of water is a great topical disinfectant. Chamomile tea bags are good if your pet’s paws are just irritated. While green tea provides healthy antioxidants to his skin. If your pet’s white feet have turned brown from excessive licking, rinsing paws with hydrogen peroxide with help remove the unsightly stains.

NOTE: It’s important to recognize that if your pet begins licking their paws it means their paws are irritated. Avoid applying cream, salves or dips. Keep the paws clean and dry. Although ointments may soothe the paws, they don’t always do an adequate job of disinfecting, or removing contaminants. Besides ointments increase the stickiness of the paws which can attract more contaminants.

If you are concerned, call your vet immediately.