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Why Dogs Lick their Paws: 4 Reasons: Causes and Solutions

licking paws

Are you worried about your dog's excessive licking and grooming habits?

As a pet parent, it can be concerning to witness your canine companion’s incessantly indulging in licking, chewing, and grooming themselves.

What constitutes excessive licking and grooming in dogs? Why do our beloved pets engage in this behavior, and how can we alleviate their discomfort?

Identifying Excessive Licking or Grooming in Dogs

Typically, dogs engage in some degree of licking, focusing on areas like between their toes, along their forearms, over joints, and on their belly. They may engage in mild licking or, at times, bite and chew these regions vigorously.

Excessive licking, on the other hand, arises when a dog experiences adverse consequences due to continuous licking. This can manifest as hair loss, bald patches, red skin areas, pimple-like lesions, dandruff, skin or coat discoloration, yellow or green discharge, or even limping.

In some cases, pets may exhibit overt signs of discomfort while licking or grooming, including vocalizing, whimpering, moaning, or groaning.

Causes of Excessive Licking in Dogs

There exists a multitude of factors behind excessive grooming in dogs. Your veterinarian will identify the root cause, whether it be a skin condition, pain, or behavioral issues. Given that dogs often conceal signs of illness at the vet's office, you can assist your vet by providing photos or videos of your dog during their persistent licking episodes.

Common reasons for dogs excessively licking include:

1. Medical Reasons

  • Infections and skin conditions

  • Fleas, Mites, and Other Parasites

  • Yeast, Bacterial, and Fungal Infections

  • Allergies; Food allergies, environmental allergies

  • Pain

  • Nausea

If your dog is facing any of the above health issues, your veterinarian will be able to help you solve this problem with the help of medicines. However, there are other issues also that can cause this and they are described as below:

2. Anxiety/Behavioral Issues

When all medical causes have been ruled out—such as itchiness, infections, allergies, nausea, or pain—the excessive licking and grooming may be attributed to behavioral issues.

3. Boredom

Dogs may resort to licking, grooming, and scratching out of boredom. If you notice your pet self-grooming primarily during idle moments, consider increasing their daily exercise or giving them tasks to occupy their minds. Many dogs benefit from mental stimulation, such as engaging in activities like flyball, agility, or obedience classes. Keep their minds active with time-released treats or puzzle toys containing hidden treats.

4. Anxiety

Licking and overgrooming can cause both physical discomfort and emotional stress for dogs. Given that dogs cannot communicate verbally, it falls upon pet parents and veterinary professionals to collaborate and figure out the issue. With the array of tools available, it is possible to piece together the puzzle and identify the underlying issue, allowing your dog to return to a happy, healthy life.

I hope that this article resolves any questions that you may have about excessive grooming in dogs.


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