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Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws All the Time?

October 25, 2021 by Becca Glee Shepard
dog won’t stop licking his paws

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws All the Time?

After spending enough time with your pup, you start to learn their routines, behaviors, and even their quirks. For many dogs, this could look like rolling around and scratching their back on the floor, itching the same hard-to-reach spot in a funny way, fixating on a seemingly foreign object in the house, or even barking in their sleep.

Most dogs engage in some kind of self-cleaning routine at some point during the day, usually when they are laying down. You might notice that they happen to lick their paws—a lot. They might even combine this with light chewing of their paws, too.

From environmental allergies to dry skin, there are many reasons why your pup may be licking and chewing at their paws. Keep reading to find out why your dog may frequently lick their paws.

Is my pet self cleaning, or something else?

A dog constantly licking their paws doesn't necessarily mean there is something larger at play. They may simply be cleaning their fur and paw pads if they played in something fun (and probably dirty) outside!

In most cases, paw licking is harmless unless you see signs or symptoms of something physically wrong on your pup. For example, if they interrupt their normal cleaning routine and are focused on licking and cleaning the same spot over and over again.

If this is happening, you may want to check the dog yourself or plan a visit to the vet for a skin irritation.

Potential dog problems with excessive paw licking

If you notice something odd about your dogs' paws, it might be cause for concern. Itchy skin, bacterial or yeast infections, and hot spots are all common problems that arise with licking paws excessively.

It's important to get your furry family member checked out as soon as you see something out of the ordinary arise so that it doesn't become infected, or worse. What might first look like a hot spot could actually be something called Lick Granuloma, or Acral Lick Dermatitis.

Lick Granuloma signs & symptoms

Lick Granuloma is a skin condition known to occur when dogs excessively lick at their lower limbs and joints. Although the cause of the condition is unknown, veterinarians contribute it to a mixture of physical pain and psychological impulse.

Lick Granuloma appears as an open, raw wound where fur and skin has been rubbed and licked off. It may be scabbed over, or there may be red, pink, and white plaques on the skin. It is important to catch it early on as it can become a vicious cycle where your pup licks to feel better but slowly causes the condition to appear, then licks more to heal it but slowly makes it worse and worse.

Medication and topical steroids may be used for treatment of Lick Granuloma, but it is important to uncover the underlying cause first. For instance, a vet may recommend an X-Ray exam first to see if there is any inflammation or arthritis that is causing your pup to lick more than normal.

What pet parents can do about Lick Granuloma

  • DO NOT try to treat at home
  • DO go see a vet

Closing

Most paw licking and chewing is a normal behavior for dogs. It is just as much a part of their self care routine as is washing our face as humans. It is therapeutic and stress-relieving, so let your dog enjoy their cleaning time.

If you notice your dog starts licking their paws in a different way and focuses on a particular spot, it may be time to schedule a vet appointment. With a Spot Pet Insurance plan, you can get your dog coverage for accidents and illnesses, so be sure to get your free quote today and get help keeping your pup in tip-top health!

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