Dogs have many behaviors which, as pet parents, we often ignore or deem as normal. However, sometimes our dogs are trying to tell us something. Like, when they lick their paws, although sometimes normal (see below when this is considered normal), it may be due a number of other reasons, such as;
Allergies (food, environmental, other) that causes irritation to the skin around the paws
A wound they sustained (which often occurs to city dwelling dogs who walk or run a lot on pavement)
Injuries such as a broken bone, or broken toe nail or other related injuries as a way to ‘self-soothe’ (which unfortunately, usually results in them causing more problems!)
A foreign object caught in their fur/skin/pad such as a grass seed, pebble, piece of glass etc which is likely causing pain/discomfort.
Anxiety. In an attempt to relieve stress, similar to the way we may bite our nails, a dog may lick their paws when anxious.
Boredom. If not mentally stimulated, a dog will find other ways to entertain themselves, which may include self destructive behaviors such as licking their paws.
Skin irritation. This can be from a bee sting or the ice-melt or salt on the side-walks during the winter.
What kind of paw-licking is normal?
It is not abnormal for a dog to lick their paws when grooming. However, this shouldn’t be excessive, but rather once or twice a day.
At what point should a dog parent consult a veterinarian forpaw-licking?
If a dog parent notices that their dog is licking:
One paw excessively
A particular area on the paw
Licking their paws multiple times a day
After a pet parent has told their pet to stop multiple times.
These are all reasons to have their pet seen by a veterinarian. Additionally, if you notice that the skin is red between the paw pads, see saliva staining (brown discoloration to the fur), or you see a particular wound, these would also be reasons to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian for paw-licking.
Does your dog lick their paws excessively? It may be time to schedule a visit with your vet to ensure all is okay with your pup!