Why Would a Dog Lick the Pads of His Paws?

by Naomi Millburn
"I sometimes lick my paws to stay clean."

"I sometimes lick my paws to stay clean."

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Licking is a common behavior in doggie world, and often is as straightforward as a response to pesky allergies. If you've noticed your pooch licks his paw pads a lot, however, you might want to sit up and pay attention. The action sometimes is indicative of compulsive behavior in pooches.

Allergies

Dogs frequently lick their paw pads as a reaction to the discomfort of their allergies, whether to dust, cleaning agents or anything else in their living spaces. Apart from licking of the pads, you might notice your poor pooch gnawing on them, too. This gnawing, in turn, often leads to irritation and swelling of the area. If you're uncertain of the culprit behind your fluffball's allergies, take him to the veterinarian so you can figure out exactly what's bothering him. Paw licking sometimes denotes a medical condition known as pododermatitis, which involves inflammation of the area. Allergies often trigger the ailment.

Compulsion

When dogs injure their paw pads, they often relentlessly lick them as means of soothing them. In some cases, canines continue licking wounds even once they're completely healed. This points to the emergence of a compulsive behavior. By obsessively licking their paws, dogs might cope with feelings of nervousness, strain and uncertainty. If a dog is dealing with the presence of a new pet in the apartment, for example, he could be more vulnerable to taking on compulsive, nonstop behaviors such as paw licking.

Monotony

Pure monotony sometimes leads dogs down the path of paw pad licking. If your dog spends a lot of time on his own and doesn't receive enough direct interaction with his human family, or perhaps doesn't get enough outdoor exercise, he could turn to inordinate paw licking as a way to entertain himself and pass the time.

Bath Time

Your dog might lick his paw pads because he feels icky and unclean and could use a thorough bath. Sometimes, paw pad licking is just basic grooming. Dogs go outdoors a lot, so they come into contact with dirt and all sorts of undesirable things -- and it can't feel too comfortable when it accumulates. Keep your dog squeaky clean by giving him routine baths -- think roughly four times each year.

Caution

Paw licking in dogs sometimes can be innocuous, but not always. In the cold winter months, ice melters often adorn the grounds of streets and driveways. If you take your dog on a walk and he gets some of this stuff onto his paws, there's a strong chance he might lick it off. Since the chemicals in ice melters are often extremely poisonous to canines, this is a severe hazard. Keep this danger out of your pet's life by always thoroughly cleaning his paws when he returns home after outdoor winter jaunts.

Photo Credits

  • Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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