Why Your Dog Licks Its Paws

October 18, 2017

dog care

Licking is a Soothing Practice

Pet owners understand that their cat and dog friends will lick their bodies. Cats are famous for their self-grooming behaviors. Dogs aren’t as thorough as cats, but they do take care of their fur to a certain extent. Paw licking is both a grooming habit and soothing experience. Dogs can reach their paws with ease so they end up being a common area to service.

Dog owners shouldn’t see constant, paw licking in their pets, however. Although it’s soothing, incessant licking indicates an underlying factor. Lakewood and Golden residents should consider a few factors when their dogs are licking each day. A simple resolution may be all that’s necessary to improve the pet’s quality of life.

Changing pH Levels

A dog’s saliva has a specific pH value. This measurement of either high or low acidity can mean the difference between excessive or nonexistent licking. Unhealthy pH levels in the saliva are quickly transferred to the paws through normal licking. The skin and fur become irritated, which causes the dog to lick even more. It’s a negatively reinforced situation that requires some help from the owners.

A changed, pH value often indicates a poor diet. Ask any dog boarding professional about a proper diet, and owners will learn that meat-based foods are critical to a long lifespan.

Developing Yeast Infection

Whether a dog has a normal or abnormal pH, their saliva can cause other issues on a licked paw. Yeast is found naturally in the digestive tract. It’s normally low in numbers, but tends to multiply with a poor diet. As the yeast grows, it ends up on the paw where the normal licking began. The crevices between the toes become perfect habitats for the yeast to flourish.

In little time, a yeast infection develops. The dog continues to lick in response to the itchiness presented by the yeast infection. Any Golden or Lakewood family would need to bring their dog into the veterinarian to receive the proper treatment.

Growing Bacteria

A family’s dog may stay at home most of the time or visit a kennel periodically. At any of these locations, picking up a bacterial infection is possible. The bacteria explode in numbers because of the moisture being constantly added to the toe crevices, however. The licking encourages the bacteria when it might otherwise die back without any further issues. Pet owners might notice a red and irritated skin patch between the toes when an infection is brewing.

Underlying Dermatitis Issues

Dogs have skin irritations that are similar to a human being’s ailments. However, pet owners might overlook the skin as a problem because it’s always hidden behind the fur. Consider dermatitis as a reason for a dog’s licking action. This inflammation might be caused by allergens in the air, such as pollen, or localized irritants, including flea bites.

A veterinary professional may need to evaluate the area. Dermatitis has several causes that must be systematically ruled out until the right one is unearthed. Speaking with other owners at a dog daycare may help a family find out what kind of allergens are around the pooch when they aren’t present.

Discovering Food Allergies

If a family attends a dog training course, one of the topics covered involves allergies. Some pups are prone to food allergies. These sensitivities range from mild to severe. If a particular food bothers a dog, its reaction may be to lick the paws. Inflammation or a rash could dot the skin, but the owners won’t see it. The only indicator of an issue is the licking.

Pet owners and veterinarians must work together to pinpoint the offensive food. Removing it from the diet completely is the best course of action.

Understanding Uncommon Reasons

A rare reason why a dog licks its paws is anxiety. They have a fear or worry about an environmental element, and they lick the paws as a way to cope with the problem. Pet owners try all sorts of different solutions, including socks pulled onto the dog’s paws and legs, but the licking continues. Dealing with the anxiety is the only way to solve this issue.

Lesions appear as a result of anxiety-based licking. In these cases, both physical and mental care are necessary to bring the pooch back to a healthy state.

Growing Arthritic Problems

Dogs have arthritis that’s similar to human beings’ experiences. Stiff and painful joints are the result of arthritis, which includes the paws. Pet owners may not notice the licking as a sign of arthritic pain, but a dog boarding professional has a keen eye. There are treatment options for the dog so that licking isn’t the answer to painful joints.

Uncovering a Stuck Object

Each dog has a varied amount of fur covering their toes. It’s easy to overlook an item stuck under or between the toes. Periodically, inspect the dog’s paws for any items. These objects may embed themselves in the fur or skin, which creates irritation that the dog treats with its licking action.

Dealing With Parasitic Issues

Fleas, ticks and other parasites attach to pets in any location possible. The paws tend to be the easiest areas to access from a parasite’s perspective. If the dog licks its paws on a regular basis, evaluate the skin and fur for any parasites. Medications are available to ward off future infestations.

Partnering with a local, dog training facility is a clever way to stay in touch with a pet’s overall care. Periodic classes on obedience and life milestones help pet owners work through any concerns with their furry friends. From a kennel visit to dog daycare, a pooch with any issues can be treated with kindness and professionalism so that licking doesn’t become a chronic and lifelong problem.