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How Can I Get My Dog to Stop Licking His Paws?

Close up of shaggy dog licking its paw

Paw licking is a regular feature in the self-grooming routine of most dogs. While it’s normal for them to groom their paws occasionally, obsessive licking is usually a sign of an underlying issue. It’s important to control this habit (of your pup) because it can be extremely difficult to eradicate if left unnoticed. Keep reading to know about the causes and possible preventions to stop your dog from licking his paws.  

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws and Legs?

According to The Bark, dry skin and allergies are the biggest causes of paw licking behavior in dogs. However, several other reasons can also make your pup lick his/her paws. Some of the most common ones among them are discussed below.

Dry Skin

Black and white dog sitting in grass scratching with its back paw

Excessive bathing and cold (and dry) weather make the skin of a dog irritated and flaky. Basically, both these factors remove the natural oils from your canine’s coat. Redness, itchiness, dandruff, and fur loss are some common symptoms of dry skin.  

Food Allergies

 Some food items, like chicken, beef, eggs, and dairy, instigate the immune system of your pup to overreact. The list of food allergens also includes wheat, corn, and artificial additives. Paw licking is one of the signs of food allergies and is usually accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, and hot spots.  

Environmental Allergies

These allergies are caused by all types of things, including mold spores, grass, dust mites, cleaning products, and prescription drugs. If your dog starts licking his paws after a trip to a park, he could have an environmental allergy. Increased sneezing, running eyes, and itchy skin are also among the common symptoms.    

Hormonal Imbalance

Close up of dog skin with rash

Certain conditions, like Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism, make canines much more vulnerable to skin problems. This results in irritation and bald patches that force a dog to lick himself/herself.  

Pain

If your canine friend is licking only one paw, it could be an indication that he/she is in pain. In this case, you should examine that paw to find the source of nuisance. Several problems, such as broken nails, a thorn, or an insect bite, can be responsible. If everything seems normal on the outside, visit your vet because it could be a fracture or a muscle sprain.

Fleas and Ticks

Close up of tick attached to a dog's skin

The bites of fleas and ticks can cause severe itchiness in the paws of your dog. He/she will lick (and scratch) the paws in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. The situation can become even worse if your pup is allergic to fleas.

Do Dogs Lick Their Paws When Stressed?

Yes, dogs can lick their paws when they are anxious. Excessive licking of paws is one of the ways in which a dog tries to relieve his/her stress. In fact, paw licking is often considered similar to human nail-biting because it has a soothing effect on canines. Some of the situations that can make your pup stressed are illness, lack of exercise, boredom, and separation anxiety.

What to Do if My Dog is Licking His Paws Excessively?

Bulldog licking paws

Physical Examination

If your dog is licking his paws continuously, start by having a close look at them. Check for any cuts, swelling, broken nails, pieces of glass, or any other foreign object. The Nest suggests that matted fur between the toes can also make your dog uncomfortable. If there is any visible injury, administer first aid and contact your vet for further assistance.   

Remove Allergens

If environmental allergies are causing your dog to lick his/her paws, you will need to remove the allergens. For this purpose, you can soak the paws of your dog in the solution of cool water and oatmeal shampoo.

Not only will it rinse off the allergens, but it will also soothe the itchy skin of your pet. Dip each paw in the solution for about 2 minutes. Once you are done, wipe the paws with a clean towel or cloth to eliminate the excessive moisture. In case your canine is allergic to grass or pesticides, you should wipe his/her paws with a damp cloth whenever he/she comes from outside.

In addition to that, you can also install a humidifier in your home to moisturize the dry air. Just make sure to clean the humidifier regularly to prevent mold, which can worsen skin allergies.

Make Dietary Changes

Yellow Labrador laying down eating

Improving the quality of food can also help you to stop your dog from licking his paws. For instance, increasing the quantity of meat (and decreasing carbohydrates) in your dog’s diet can solve this problem. Likewise, you can add a high-quality fish oil supplement to fulfill the nutritional requirements. The following is a homemade dog food recipe that can keep the skin of your pup healthy. 

Homemade Dog Food for Itchy Paws

This recipe is ideal for your dog because it is made from healthy ingredients and offers excellent nutritional value. The use of coconut oil makes it even more healthy and useful for your pup.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 large sweet potato (chopped)
  • 1 medium carrot (chopped)
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 cups water

Directions

  1. Sauté the ground turkey in the coconut oil, in a medium-size saucepan. You can chop the sweet potato and carrot while the turkey is cooking. When the meat is thoroughly cooked, add the chopped sweet potato, carrot, and water to the pot.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Then, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer the recipe for about 20 minutes. Stir in the frozen peas and let the homemade dog food for itchy skin sit until it’s completely cooled.
  3. The heat will warm the peas. Once the recipe is completely cool, you can serve it to your pup. The recommended serving size is about ½ cup for every 20-25 pounds of body weight. This recommendation is for 2 servings per day.
  4. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also make this recipe in bulk and store it in an airtight container in the freezer for 2-3 months.

Thank you to Top Dog Tips for this recipe.

What Can I Put On My Dog to Stop The Licking?

Ointment on a green background

Sometimes, a quality ointment is enough to relieve the itchy sensation in your dog’s paws. It can be particularly helpful if the skin on the paws is dry and cracked. Just put a bandage over the ointment and make sure that your pup doesn’t rip it off. Other than that, you can also use the following products to stop your dog from licking his paws.

  • Topical Sprays to prevent paw licking and chewing
  • Itch Relief Sprays to relieve the itchy sensation

Will a Muzzle Keep a Dog From Licking?

A muzzle is definitely quite useful to stop a dog from licking (or chewing) his paws. This plastic cone is an amazing product to control your pup because it is much more comfortable than an Elizabethan collar (e-collar). It makes it easier for your canine friend to move around because he/she won’t be hitting into doorways. Likewise, it is quite convenient to sleep while wearing a muzzle (in comparison to an e-collar).  

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