Excessive paw licking in dogs is a common problem which can have different causes and clinical presentations. It may or may not be associated with other symptoms such as licking or scratching other parts of their body, shaking their head etc.
It is certainly a sign that your dog is experiencing some discomfort and you should not ignore it.
What can cause this?
Excessive paw licking could be the first symptom of an allergic reaction on your dog and it could progress to other parts of the body so it is important to check this with your vet as soon as you spot it. Dogs can be allergic to:
• Mites such as dust mites
• Certain foods
• Pollens and environmental allergens
• Cleaning products you may use in your house or on their bed.
2. Foreign bodies on your dog’s fur:
You should be checking your dog’s paws regularly for any foreign bodies stuck on their fur or inside their toes (Not all dogs are willing to let you check them thoroughly after each walk, that’s why, if possible, you should start doing this from a young age ) sometimes these foreign bodies (such as grass seeds) can find their way through the skin and get stuck between the toes where they are going to cause painful abscesses.
3. Bone or joint disease:
Dogs can lick their paws due to discomfort caused by bone or joint disease such as osteoarthritis or a pulled/torn ligament in their toes so sometimes an x-ray is necessary to get to the bottom of the problem.
4. Fleas and other parasites:
Dogs can carry different parasites, the most common being fleas, which could trigger general itchiness and paw-licking
5. Anal glands impaction:
Surprisingly, some dogs will not scratch/rub their bottom when they have anal glands problem but rather lick their paws!
What should you do?
If you notice that your dog is constantly licking his paws, it is probably because there is an issue that may cause pain or at least discomfort! You must take him to The Vet to have him checked! Try to gather as much information as you can regarding the symptoms: when did they start? where did you go in the few previous days? Any change in your habits, their food, products you use? Is it the first occurrence or it happened in the past? Any piece of information may be relevant to diagnose why your pet is licking his paws.
Remember this list of common causes of paw-licking is not exhaustive and to diagnose your dog accurately and give the best treatment you should ask advice from The Vet.
Written by Aurore Masson – Vet at The Vet Liverpool