Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking His Paws?

Obsessive paw licking is always a sign of trouble. There are four common reasons that your dog may be doing this – all of them require your attention. The first two are behavioral, while the second two are environmental.

Injuries & Infections

If you see your dog suddenly licking or chewing one foot in particular, check for injuries or signs of infection. There are many injuries of the pad that may cause your dog to lick and chew it, including:

* Puncture wounds

* Cuts and scraps

* Burns (from hot asphalt for example)

* Corns

* Foreign bodies stuck in the pads, fur, or between toes. Things like burrs, seeds, thorns, and ticks are common.

* Cysts

* Bone fractures in the toes or nails

* Torn toenail

If you notice anything unusual, use your best judgement if you need to take your dog to the vet. Some of these you can treat at home, others need veterinary attention.

A cut or wound that is left untreated can become infected, which can also cause licking and chewing, even if your dog wasn’t doing it before. Small objects can get lodged inside your dog’s skin, causing infections as well. Seeds can even work themselves into your dog’s bone (foxtail is a big culprit), so it’s important see a vet if you suspect something is lodged where you cannot see.

Allergies

Paw licking and chewing from allergies seems to be the most common – with food and grass allergies being the biggest culprits of inflamed feet. Then, your dog’s constant licking and chewing causes a secondary yeast infection, furthering his discomfort.

If your dog has light fur or paw pads, then you can easily see the inflammation – they will have bright pink to rusty red discoloration on the paws and fur. Your dog will obsessively lick and chew, mostly likely all his feet (whereas with an injury it will just be the one affected foot). If he has been doing it for a while, he will lose the hair around his mouth and nose. If it gets really bad, your dog may even limp from the discomfort they are feeling.

If you suspect allergies (your dog may also be itchy all over and constantly scratching themselves), a good thing to cut out first is grains. Grains are notorious for causing allergy responses in dogs. It’s why we don’t put them in our Stay Loyal dog foods. Switching to Stay Loyal Grain Free has helped many dogs stop foot chewing and licking.

Stress & Anxiety

Some dogs start licking and chewing on their pads out of stress or anxiety. Many dogs in shelters will exhibit this behavior. If you have already ruled out injuries, infection, and allergies, it’s time to think about whether or not your dog is stressed.

Pay attention to when your dog is licking. This may give you a clue as to what is causing the stress so you can change the situation. If you get stuck, consult a dog trainer.

Boredom & OCD

If your dog is not stressed, they could be bored – another way paw licking and chewing is exhibited, often in shelter dogs. Sometimes, paw licking that started out as an injury or infection, becomes an obsessive compulsive disorder. Like chasing their tail, dogs begin to lick and chew and just can’t stop themselves.

Giving your dog something to do, such as a bone to chew on or a food toy can help stop this behavior if it’s due to boredom and sometimes help with OCD. Also make sure they are getting plenty of exercise. Again, if you get stuck, consult a dog trainer.

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6 Comments

  1. My yorkie has the itch, paw linking, the works…yeasty ears….since I’ve tried changing dog food 100 times I’m finally going to make my own dehydrated, I know raw is probably the best…but I’m just not there yet giving her raw meat,
    I thought I would boil organic chicken, chop up fine in processor.
    , then raw organic kale ,spinach, celery, green beans and small greens chop up fine processor . Add to chicken and make into thin patties and dehydrate them.
    What are your thoughts, and do I need supplements.. thanks…..any help will be appreciated I’m at my wits end with trying to stop her itch……I’ve tried raw vinegar, baking soda, witch hazel and the list goes on….

    1. Hi Anthea,

      You could try that but it would be very hard to get the mix right. definitely use a multivitamin as
      most home cooked dog foods lack important nutrients.

      The basic feeding guide i suggest for itchy dogs is Stay Loyal Original and raw meaty Lamb bones ONLY.
      This combination works well. So no treats or anything else. Strictly no beef or roo as these red meats can heat the body up and help bad microbes to grow causing the itchiness. The Meaty bone and Stay Loyal combination
      is outlined in detail in our feeding guide which you will get, when you purchase, in your emails

      If your dog has a yeasty smell and its strong, i also suggest Malaseb wash and Zinc supplementation.
      You can get the zinc from the chemist or supermarket for humans. The dosage rate is 5mg per kg bodyweight per day. So, a 20kg dog can have up to 100mg of zinc per day. Feed the zinc in the evening a few hours after the meal.

      1. I have a maltese x Shihtzu she is 11 yrs. old She has allergies for so long I have changed her food, and now I have her on stay loyal which she loves, and I mix some vegies with it. You mention raw meaty Lamb bones I cant give her that she had 5 teeth taken out and cant chew raw meat. What else can I give her please.

        1. Hi Susan,

          What you are giving her is fine. Limit the vegies and fish to a maximum of 20% of the total diet as it can effect the ratios of everything and make the food less effective. If you need more help with the itching please email us at robert@stayloyal.com.au

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