Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

By Donna Stanley
In January 22, 2016
12299 Views

 

The obvious reason dogs obsessively lick their paws is because they itch.

paw licking

Nine times out of ten, the itching is caused by allergies (food or skin/environmental).

Many times, allergies in dogs cause an inflammatory response in their skin. Because paws have a special kind of skin and more nerves than the rest of their skin, they are usually the first spot to start itching. Other body parts like legs, tummy, eyes, rectum, snout, back and ears are also common locations for inflammation and itching. (In such a case an essential oil blend called “Allergy Blend” can bring immediate, long-term relief)

Click here to order Endless Mt. Oil Blends for Pets Canine Allergy Blend!

Click here to order Endless Mt. Oil Blends for Pets Canine Allergy Blend!

Click here to order Endless Mt. Oil Blends for Pets Equine Allergy Blend!

Some don’t believe that dogs lick because they are bored, some may. They DO seem to lick the most at night when they are ready for bed. Dogs seem to be the happiest when they are getting ready to go to sleep and everyone is settling down for the night. They’re not just bored. It’s just that all inflammation gets worse at night, not just in dogs, but in people too. For the same reason that arthritis hurts more at night, or your sinuses get swollen at night, or your back hurts more, or your skin itches. Almost all inflammatory problems are much worse at night. (Ever notice that?)

If anxiety is expected, an essential oil blend like “Anti-Anxiety” Blend will give relief. Almost all dogs will stop licking if given a steroid. That’s because steroids decrease swelling and inflammation, so it stops itching. BUT, steroids will, if anything, increase anxiety. If anxiety was the issue, steroids could make it worse. Furthermore, steroids can cause further candida yeast to grow in the pet’s body, and cause more itching, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

dog-chewing-paws

But the problem is inflammation and itching. That’s why a steroid can reduce it or stop it altogether for anywhere from a few weeks to two months. Steroids are excellent anti-inflammatories, they just can’t be used on a long-term basis, and they have some nasty side effects, including some pretty serious ones. And sometimes, your pet will create an “immunity” to it, eventually.

Certainly separation anxiety can make things worse, but that isn’t always the primary cause. The genetics of the breed have much more of an effect in how bad the paw licking or skin problems will be, than anything else. About 25 breeds totally dominate the paw licking category. They are usually pure breeds, and the smaller dogs seem to do it more than the larger dogs. Although little dogs lick more, they do less damage to themselves. Larger dogs can lick or chew until it bleeds and becomes infected with bacteria or yeast. Sometimes certain types of coats can cause ingrown hairs in between thier toes which can then cause irritation that, again, causes licking.

Dogs with white skin seem to be horribly sensitive to everything and get secondary infections more easily too.

Some breeds have a propensity to have food allergies (such as Labrador Retrievers), in which case, changing to a low to no carb/starch, anti-inflammatory diet can rectify the problem quickly and for good!

Click here to learn more about feeding a species-appropriate diet to your pet!

Grain-Free is always the way to go (Such as the Life’s Abundance “Grain-Free All Life Stages” food (link above), and a food that does not have GMO’s and phytoestrogens, (which wreck havoc on your dog’s hormones and thyroid) and no corn and soy, is the best choice if you are not open to using a paleo/raw diet like BARF (link above). Foods high in carbs/starch will cause candida yeast to grow, and cause allergies to worsen. So a paleo/raw diet with a high lean meat source with high moisture content, will bring long-term relief, and not just be a “bandaid” solution, but will cut the problem from the root cause! No more steroids, essential oils, vet appointments, or anything!

Grain-Free is always the way to go (Such as the Life’s Abundance “Grain-Free All Life Stages” food (link above), and a food that does not have GMO’s and phytoestrogens, (which wreck havoc on your dog’s hormones and thyroid) and no corn and soy, is the best choice if you are not open to using a paleo/raw diet like BARF (link above). Foods high in carbs/starch will cause candida yeast to grow, and cause allergies to worsen. So a paleo/raw diet with a high lean meat source with high moisture content, will bring long-term relief, and not just be a “bandaid” solution, but will cut the problem from the root cause! No more steroids, essential oils, vet appointments, or anything!

Best quick remedy for dog paw licking

Another thing you can do to help a dog who is licking her paws is to use a cheap steam vaporizer in the room where she sleeps. In the summer, tree and grass pollen can make dogs skin itch. But a huge factor is dry skin caused by dry air.

When air conditioners cool the air in your house they also remove moisture. The condensation that’s dripping out of that little tube is moisture from the air in your house. Dry air can make your dog’s skin dry enough to itch. And itchy paws cause dog paw licking.

So if your dog licks his paws, or coughs at night, or has dry eyes or decreased tear production, or just seems restless, spend a little more and invest in a cold air diffuser along with some “Respiratory Blend” and diffuse it at night in the room where the pet sleeps. To add further help, add a bit of the “Anti-Anxiety blend, as well, in the diffuser! You will be pleasantly surprised, and so will your dog.

Medicated Shampoo

The main problem with medicated shampoos is that they were invented for horses and later marketed for dogs. They are industrial strength detergents and they dry out already damaged skin.

The second problem is that they are almost always prescribed for the wrong thing. Most of them are anti-bacterials which are fine at killing germs but really hard on itchy, inflamed skin. Dogs that lick their paws aren’t usually suffering from a bacterial or fungal infection. If they are, it’s a secondary problem and there are better ways to handle it. The primary issue is inflammation caused by histamine, as a result of allergies. The objective is to make it itch less so the dog stops licking his skin off and causing all the other resulting problems (infections, sores, scabs, bleeding, hair loss, etc.).

A non-inflammatory, soothing Essential Oil shampoo can not only cause immediate relief, but long term as well.

Click here to order Endless Mt. Oil Blends for Pets CANINE, FELINE, or EQUINE All-natural Pet Shampoo!

Try to bathe your dog as little as possible. Even the mildest shampoo can wash away natural skin oils

Other things that might help

Supplements –NuVet Canine Plus (there is also a Feline version) is one of favorites, and adds plenty of antioxidants which strengthen the immune system and helps it fight against allergens.

nuvet-plus-wafers-dogs-supplements-canine
Fish oil – Theory is good, but in practice we’ve never heard of anyone seeing results. My favorite is Alaskan Salmon oil from BARF world, Int’l:

AN_ISO300

Ears – Dogs will often paw at their ears because their ear flaps or the sensitive inside itches. In some cases their toenails can scratch the skin of their ears. Ear Blend can help relieve the itch and protect ears from further harm.

Dogs can also have increased ear infections, often caused by excess fluid from their sinuses draining into their inner ear. If your dog shakes his head more than once or twice a day, he might have an ear infection and needs to get this taken care of as soon as possible. Ear infections can be very painful and can cause serious injury or long-term deafness. So if in doubt, check it out!

4 Comments

  1. Thanks For youre report

  2. Thanks for the info. It really helped. My curiosity is settled.

  3. Really appreciate your comments, as I just got my first dog (a small terrier) and needed to know about not bathing him often. Also, I will look into changing his diet to the one your suggested. I understand I should do this gradually by mixing it in with what he’s been eating for a number of years.

    1. I usually recommend having the last meal of the old food in the a.m., then fast 24 hours and start the new diet the next day, that is the quick start way…or you can do it over a longer period…but I prefer the quick switch 🙂

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