Author Bri LaFluer / Sleepy Cotton Content Writer / Oct-10-2020
SleepyCotton: Dog is Licking Paw
Dog is Licking Paw: Reasons + Solutions
As caring dog parents, we often keep a close eye on our furry friend's health to keep them happy. Although, dogs sometimes can do strange things that we question the reasons for. A common concern for owners is to look up why "dog is licking paw", looking for all kinds of answers.
Determining factors to this can include skin irritations, allergies, pests, and even boredom. If you find yourself searching for the resolution to this question, we have your answers.
- When a dog licks at their paws, it is often their way of relieving and soothing irritation.
- Common reasons for paw licking and chewing are likely due to the buildup of dirt, germs, or bacteria, along with dry/itchy skin, allergies, infections, boredom/anxiety, and fleas in some cases.
- Stopping a dog from licking their paw takes time and patience with the right resources to target the issue.
Let's discover what gets these dogs licking and chewing at their paws, and how to combat it!
Dog is Licking Paw; Why is This?
Paw hygiene is a major contribution to a dog’s overall health! Any irritations to their paws can cause an impact on their daily lifestyle. The reason why a dog may be licking and chewing their paws could be because of many different explanations. But it is their instinct to tend to pain, wounds, or physical and mental irritations. Focusing intensely on their paws is typically their way of handling any of these factors.
The reason your dog won't stop licking their paws could be because of one of these circumstances:
Dirt, Germs, & Bacteria
One of the most common paw irritations in dogs is the buildup of dirt, germs, and bacteria. These can each be problematic, causing irritations internally and externally. However, it’s impossible for dogs to avoid collecting this as they walk through grass, dirt, mud, puddles, and pet stores. These can affect your dog’s paws over time resulting in cracked paws, an unusual smell, and irritations they try to solve with constant licking. It’s similar to athlete’s foot with a human. If only dogs could wash their paws like we wash our hands!
Dry Skin & Itchiness
Dogs have hypersensitive skin because of their fewer skin layers. Humans' skin is resilient of 10 to 15 cells thick whereas dogs’ skin is only three to five cells thick. Because of this, dogs can absorb ingredients into their body system much faster. This can affect their health, especially resulting in dry skin and itchiness. A dog licking their dry or irritated skin is their way of trying to soothe it. This among other skin irritations can be caused by products you use on your dog since they could contain harsh ingredients such as parabens, SLS or SLES, phthalates, dyes, synthetic fragrances, and mineral oils.
Bare paws are all dogs use to walk on without physical protection. They could directly come in contact with an allergen that causes the skin to become dry and irritated. Weather can take a toll on causing dry paws as well. The hot pavement from high-temperature summer months can remove all of the natural moisture from paw pads. During the winter season, paw pads can become dry, cracked, and sore because of the intense temperatures and if they step on ice melter salts, or chemicals. Wash the paw pads well with warm water and dog-safe shampoo to remove any irritants lying on the surface. You can also apply a dog-safe balm to the cracked paws to soothe them and encourage quicker healing.
Allergies can take a toll on your dog after they come into contact with various objects every day. This could include any time they venture around the backyard. Paws are introduced to possible chemicals in the yard, fleas, pollen, mold, and grass that hide all kinds of bacteria and can irritate certain dogs. Their allergies could also be caused in their home by the food they eat or even the rough carpet they walk on.
Common allergies include:
- Food - Certain proteins in food can develop allergies and clinical symptoms of itching and skin irritation. Common causes include various grains, dairy products, beef, wheat gluten, chicken, eggs, lamb, and soy. Take a look at what ingredients their kibble and treats contain.
- Inhalants - Also known as atopy, certain allergens including tree and grass pollens, molds, mildew, and house dust mites can cause runny eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Following this, the skin reacts as well by becoming irritated causing itching, licking, and chewing. Take into consideration what your dog was near if you notice symptoms and avoid the irritant then on.
- Contact dermatitis - Direct contact with certain elements can be more sensitively irritating to some dogs, enough to focus their attention on licking and itching. A dog's coat will protect the skin to a point, but areas with less fur are more vulnerable. A dog's paws or tummy touching the ground can become irritated from carpet or bedding made with rough materials.
If a dog experiences irritations from pests hiding beneath their fur, they may excessively lick it to remove them. Licking and chewing could also be their way of attempting to heal the wound and ease any pain. Sensitive dogs develop a skin disease when they react to a protein in flea saliva. One bite can make their entire body itchy. Flea and tick collars, treatments, and supplements for dogs can effectively deter pests from attacking their bodies.
Many insect-repelling products currently on the market utilize extremely harsh chemicals that are potentially harmful to dogs. Being exposed to these chemicals is even a dangerous risk to our health as well. To get all-day relief from insects, a Repel Balm with ingredients of rosemary and cedarwood essential oils helps to ward off pests from coming near dogs. These essential oils additionally work to soothe any irritations caused by pests from before as they have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Fungal & Bacterial Infections
Potential irritants for dogs cause itching especially in the paws, making dogs want to lick or chew to relieve the discomfort. When a dog is nonstop at licking and chewing their paws, this could introduce additional health issues. Excessive licking may lead to injury, which can make the paw more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections. Once the skin infection occurs, it most likely will require medical treatment. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, antifungals, steroids, medicated shampoos, topical treatments, or other approaches.
Dogs could additionally worsen their skin conditions by causing open sores and hot spots from licking and chewing. A hot spot is a superficial skin infection that results when the normal skin bacteria overrun the skin’s defenses as a result of damage to the skin surface as stated by Becky Lundgren, DVM of Veterinary Partner. A hot spot can be treated at home by keeping the skin dry and with medicated shampoo during baths if it is small enough. But since these irritations can enlarge quickly, it may need medical attention from a vet.
A common skin condition in dogs is yeast dermatitis which is caused by the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis. Tammy Hunter, DVM, and Ernest Ward, DVM of VCA Hospitals recognize the clinical symptoms to include itching and redness, musty odor, scales, and crusty, flaky skin, thickened skin ('elephant skin'), and hyperpigmentation (darkly pigmented skin).
This condition is caused by an increase in oils produced on the skin. This results in itchy and inflamed areas, especially the paws and ears. Although it is not contagious to other dogs or humans, it can spread on the body causing more discomfort. Factors such as temperature changes and allergies to food or pests can cause the infection. However, genetic factors are also possible for predisposed dog breeds.
Boredom & Anxiety
When dogs are anxious or stressed, they may look for a simple coping mechanism such as licking their paws. This action is also another way they may choose to get attention. Pay attention to when they start licking, and it could give you a good idea of what the cause may be.
Anxiety in our dogs can diminish their immune systems over time, leading to an increased risk for illness and infection. To encourage relaxing wellness all day, Sleepy Cotton's leave in Calming Balm will ease your dog's mind while nourishing their skin. It holds therapeutic scents of the lavender flower to reduce anxiety and stress without the use of harsh chemicals. Lavender essential oil aromatherapy is an effective, natural approach to connect with the nervous system.
Check for Injuries, Foreign Objects, & Bites
Before determining any reason why your dog is licking its paws, it may simply be due to an outside cause. This action is commonly normal to an injury, stuck debris, or bite from an insect. Take a close look and check for anything out of the ordinary between their toes and on their pads. If their paw appears cracked, this likely means they have dry skin or allergies that are irritating.
How to Stop Your Dog from Constantly Licking Its Paws
Without a doubt, it's difficult to take a dog's mind off of something they're focused on. But having time and patience with your dog as well as the right materials to resolve the issue, you are likely to succeed. Once the underlying cause has been identified, you can best determine a plan of action. To make sure skin conditions do not become worse, you can also keep the fur trimmed underneath their paws so that moisture does not become trapped on their skin.
Keeping our dog’s paws clean can prevent the accumulation of unwanted germs and bacteria. Sleepy Cotton created an Afterwalk Sanitizing Paw Gel Cleanser designed to target the source of the problem of paw licking: unhealthy buildup. It’s made with naturally derived USA ingredients, and even mild enough to safely ingest. A dog’s paws encounter a significant amount of bacteria and germs throughout their day-to-day activities. By keeping them clean and germ-free, dogs can stay relaxed from constantly licking and chewing their paws. This way, you can also easily deter outside irritants from being tracked through your home.
Sleepy Cotton utilizes a medical-grade key clinical active ingredient that kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria. It’s also combined with healthful essential oils and natural honeyquat to give dogs super moisturized paws. This healthy regimen can keep us hoomans healthy too, as well as our dog’s body - inside and out.
Change your dog's diet. Watch for any reactions in your dog after a meal or treat. Keep track and take note of what they ate before to rule out any determining factors. Always talk to your veterinarian about a food plan that can work best for your dog.
Start reducing potential irritant exposure in your home. Allergens could be hidden anywhere to further cause aggravation to the skin. Wash bedding frequently along with any other blankets or surfaces your dog could be laying on often. You can also use a humidifier to keep air from becoming dry.
Keep your dog busy and entertained: Many dogs will take this action as a route of keeping the mind occupied when they are bored or anxious. Give them an interactive toy or yummy treat to take their focus off of the problem.
Natural Remedies to Soothe The Skin Now
- Tropical Nutrients: Apply coconut oil to the paw pads. Coconut oil can restore the skin's protective barrier while its nutrient-rich fatty acids soothe dryness along with other skin irritations and conditions including eczema. Wounds and bites can additionally become relieved because of coconut oil's natural ability to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi with its antimicrobial effects.
- Paw Soak: Bathe your dog's feet in warm water with baking soda. This ingredient can help dry out rashes to alleviate itching while reducing any inflammation or redness.
- Soothing Bath: An oatmeal bath is ideal for soothing many skin conditions. The vitamins and minerals of oats increase healing powers to help clear irritations including hot spots. Oatmeal also has the natural ability to balance the skin's pH levels. You can also find natural pet-safe shampoos that utilize the benefits of colloidal oatmeal such as this one.
Looking Forward to Your Dog's Soothed Paws
When learning about dog behaviors, it is not always a good sign when a dog is licking paws. There are many times where this action is completely normal. But constant licking and chewing at their paws could be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Once you notice the behavior, observe and focus on possible irritants that could be causing this relentlessness before jumping to conclusions. Start with checking the paws for wounds or foreign objects that could be causing the discomfort. Then consider the current condition of their skin and paws, allergies they may have, if they have pests hidden beneath their fur, or a fungal or bacterial infection. These are the most plausible reasons for an explanation, but your dog could simply be bored or anxious.
Stopping a dog from licking its paw takes lots of time and patience. As long as you provide yourself with the right information and resources to target the issue, your dog's paws will be soothed in no time.
Sleepy Cotton is aiming to change the standards of the dog skincare industry. Learn more about our efforts to stop unhealthy paw licking and read our tons of happy customer reviews! 🐾