Dear VetBabble: Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws Until They’re Sore and Red?
Our pets sometimes display behaviors that puzzle and concern us, and, as a loving pet owner, you naturally want to know more about how to help them. One such issue is when our dogs persistently lick their paws, leading to redness and soreness. Let’s discuss the possible underlying causes and solutions for this problem.
Understanding the Causes of Excessive Paw Licking
First, it’s essential to understand why dogs sometimes lick their paws excessively. Some common causes include allergies, irritation, anxiety, and even arthritis. To identify the reason for your dog’s paw licking, it is critical to consult with your veterinarian. They can perform a thorough examination, discuss your dog’s history, and perform necessary tests to pinpoint the underlying issue.
Treating the Problem: Practical Tips and Remedies
Once you’ve identified the root cause of your dog’s excessive paw licking, you can take steps to address it. Here are some practical tips and remedies that could help your pet.
1. Allergies and Irritation
Dog allergies can manifest in various ways, including itchy paws. Identify and eliminate the allergens, such as certain foods, pollens, or household chemicals. Your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic diet or prescribe medications like antihistamines or corticosteroids to manage the allergy symptoms. You can also take a look at our simple tips for itchy dogs for more solutions on how to soothe and prevent itchiness.
2. Arthritis and Pain
If your dog’s excessive paw licking is due to arthritis or other painful conditions, your vet might recommend anti-inflammatory medications or supplements. You can also help by providing your pet with a warm, comfortable bed, gentle exercise, and weight management to reduce the strain on their joints.
3. Anxiety and Stress
Excessive paw licking can also be a sign of anxiety or stress. In this case, it’s important to identify and address the source of their anxiety. You could try creating a calm, safe space for your pet or using positive reinforcement training to help them manage their stress. If needed, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or recommend a pet behaviorist to help your dog cope.
How to Break the Habit and Promote Healing
Sometimes, excessive paw licking can become a habit, creating a seemingly endless cycle of licking and soreness. In these cases, you’ll need to take additional steps to break this habit and promote healing in your dog’s paws:
- Put your dog on new medications as prescribed by your vet, to help address the underlying cause of the licking.
- Apply a healing balm or cream to your dog’s paws to soothe and protect them from further damage.
- Use an Elizabethan collar (also known as an E-collar or cone) when you cannot supervise your dog, to prevent them from accessing their paws.
- Keep a watchful eye on your dog and gently redirect their attention when they start to lick their paws. Reward them with praise and treats when they stop licking.
While it can be distressing to see our pets in discomfort, understanding the potential causes of their paw licking and addressing them can help your dog lead a happier, healthier life. Remember to consult with your veterinarian and follow their guidance for the best course of action tailored to your pet’s needs.