Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Here's a deeper look into your canine's common grooming practice.

All pets have quirky habits. That's part of why we love them. Your dog may be known for circling around a spot 11 times before finally sitting down. She may regularly let out a loud groan when it's almost dinnertime, just so you don't forget to pour her daily bowl of kibble. Perhaps your pet has a favorite toy that he drags everywhere with him. These mannerisms show off our pets' unique personalities and help us bond with them.

Dog Licking Paw
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You might notice that, after every meal, your pet immediately starts licking his paws. No, he's not still hungry and hoping to find extra crumbs between his toes. This habit is actually part of your dog's self-grooming routine. Your pet might also lick her paws after she sits down on her bed. That's just her way of cleaning herself. As long as this self-care routine is occasional and stops after a few minutes, there's no reason to worry.

Excessive paw licking, however, could be a sign of a larger issue that requires a vet's attention. Behavioral issues, like boredom or anxiety, are common causes of excessive paw licking. Try distracting your dog with chew toys to keep him occupied instead. If that doesn't do the trick, then your dog may benefit from wearing a cone to prevent him from irritating his skin. (This inflatable collar from Petco looks less shameful than the originals.)

Is your dog singling out just one paw? Obsessively licking one targeting area is usually a sign that your animal is in pain. I could be caused by an injury or the possibility of a foreign object stuck in the paw. Stings or bites from insects or animals could be another reason behind this. Your pet would also chew on one paw if it has an abnormal growth or tumor. Another common cause of paw licking is allergies. Your pet's paw pads could be itchy and irritated from their food, pesticides in the grass, or other environmental factors. After walks, wipe off their paws with a damp washcloth. Consult your vet if you notice this behavior for the safest solution.

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