Why Your Dog Keeps Licking His Paws

If your dog keeps licking his paws, get to the bottom of the issue.

Cats are all about self-grooming, and it’s not unusual to catch your kitty giving herself a bath. Dogs on the other hand don’t really care about how they look…or smell! So it can be strange to see your pooch licking his paws frequently. What’s behind this behavior?

Reasons for Licking

Sometimes paw licking can just be about boredom. But paw licking can point to a medical problem that needs to be addressed. If your dog starts licking his paws more often than usual, it’s time for a closer look.

How to Stop Paw Licking

Before you can stop your dog from licking his paws, you first need to determine why he is doing it. Take a close look at your dog’s paws. He may have picked up something annoying between his toes during a walk that’s causing irritation: a burr, a pebble, or a small piece of glass. If you find nothing there, but your dog’s paws are red and inflamed, it’s most likely due to some kind of allergy.

Allergy reactions to flea bites are common, so check your dog for fleas. If fleas aren’t the issue, the next best bet is a reaction to something in your dog’s food. Dogs can develop food allergies or intolerances at any point in their lives. The most common are for grains (like corn and wheat), dairy products, or common proteins (like chicken or beef). Getting to the bottom of a food allergy or intolerance can be resolved by switching his diet.

Your best bet is to switch your dog over to a limited ingredient diet (LID). This is a dog food formula made with a limited number of ingredients, including unique sources for protein and carbohydrates (meaning something your dog has never eaten before). The limited number of ingredients decreases the potential triggers for food allergies, and the use of a unique source of protein and carbohydrate reduces the risk even further.

When switching your dog’s food, transition your pooch onto the new food over the course of 5 to 7 days. Keep him on the diet for 12 weeks, or until all signs of the allergy disappear. If you choose to reintroduce a potential allergen, do so one at a time until you identify the culprit. But if you notice the LID is working, there’s no reason to stop feeding him the LID.

There are times when your dog’s paw licking is nothing to be concerned about, but excessive licking or chewing can be an indication of a medical problem. Talk to your veterinarian about what could be the cause for your dog’s behavior and what you can do about it.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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