All dogs lick their paws occasionally, especially if their feet have gotten wet or muddy, as part of their self-grooming. But when a dog is constantly licking his paws and can’t seem to stop, then this is a sign something may be wrong.
Constant licking is a sign that your dog is trying to get relief from something. If his paws itch, his saliva is cooling to the area and feels good by temporarily reducing the itching. Your dog may also nibble on his paws as well as licking them.
But the constant licking, which your dog is using to try to get relief, has a downside. This behavior disrupts the natural skin barrier, and actually causes even more inflammation and more itching, plunging your dog into a vicious cycle.
Here are four things that could be going on if your dog continuously licks this paws:
One – Foreign Body – This is one of the most frequent reasons for licking and nibbling of the paws. If your dog will allow it, examine his paws throughly under a good light, looking for foreign bodies or small wounds. Sometimes a thorn, a small sliver of glass, a stone or other object can become embedded in the pad of his paw, causing irritation and pain. If you cannot easily remove the foreign body yourself or if you see a wound that is not healing, it’s time to see your veterinarian.
Two – Fungal or yeast infection – These can infect the pads of the paws or even the areas in between the pads. Your veterinarian will likely do a skin scraping to test for the presence of these infections. Fortunately these are relatively easily treated with medications applied locally.
Three – Matted hair – Hair mats around the paw pads can become tangled and dirty, especially on longer haired breeds. These mats can lead to irritation and subsequent itching. If there is no underlying infection, the hair can be trimmed to keep tangles from forming.
Four – Psychological reasons – Separation anxiety or stress caused by other factors can cause dogs to develop a licking habit. A consultation with your veterinarian to rule out physical causes is in order and a consultation with an experienced canine behavior specialist may be needed if the licking persists.