It’s normal for dogs to spend time grooming and licking themselves, but what isn’t normal is your dog obsessively licking their feet and toes until you want to scream.
Some dogs will lick and bite their paws so much they wear away the fur and cause bleeding, which leaves the dog open to infection and other problems, but why does he do it, and more importantly, how can you stop it?
Reasons for Excessive Paw Licking
If your dog is getting a little too enthusiastic with his paw cleaning it could be because he has an injury, skin problems such as dry, itchy skin, allergies, fleas or ticks, anxiety, or even because his nails are too long and making his toes sore when he walks.
Whatever the reason is, you need to treat the condition before your dog’s licking turns into a problem on its own. Some dogs become addicted to licking and use it to soothe themselves, and once established, the habit can be hard to break.
The most obvious reason your dog may be licking his feet a lot is because he’s suffered an injury to his foot and he’s in pain, especially if he’s only licking one foot.
You may also notice that your dog is limping when he walks.
Check for foreign bodies, torn nails, overly long nails, sprains, fractures, cuts, insect or animal bites, and visit your vet if necessary.
Allergies and Health Issues
Constant foot licking is often caused by allergies, either from external sources such as something they’ve walked through, or internal, caused by their diet.
If the cause is an environmental allergen, or a yeast infection, you might notice other symptoms such as smelly, irritated ears or itchy skin in other places.
Food allergies can be challenging to pinpoint so you might need help from your vet to find the culprit and change your dog’s diet to provide relief.
Boredom and Anxiety
If you still can’t find the reason for your dog’s constant foot licking, it could be due to boredom or anxiety.
Some breeds are more predisposed to suffering from anxiety, like separation anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders, and foot licking becomes a way to self-soothe.
Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time, especially tied up or locked up in small yards, with nothing to do can find paw licking relieves the boredom.
Make sure your dog regularly spends quality time with other dogs and people, provide toys and challenging activities for him, give him plenty of exercise and space to run around, and above all, let him know how much you love him.
Sydney Animal Hospital and Specialist Vet
Sydney Vet Specialists is dedicated to providing quality 24 hour veterinary care for your pets, as well as specialist services for a wide range of conditions.
To speak to one of caring, professional team members about your dog’s excessive paw licking or other abnormal behaviour, call us on 02 9197 5800, or contact us online.