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Why Your Dog Licking Its Paws Can Be A Sign of Serious Concern

 

   Does your dog lick its paws? While a dog licking paws may not seem like a big deal, it can indicate several quite serious conditions and if done too often, puts your dog at risk of several others. We’ll talk about a few of the ways a dog licking their paws should get your attention, both as a sign of worse problems and as an unwanted behavior.


Allergies

Perhaps the simplest, most common reason for dogs to lick their paws. When a dog walks through an allergen, they get itchy, the same as any human. If you find your dog licking their paws quite often, try to note whether they do so after walking in a particular field, building, or otherwise. If there’s no overt trigger, you’ll want to see a vet; left untreated, allergies can get worse, trigger further problems, and make your dog miserable.


Paw Cracking
There are several reasons your dog’s paws might have become cracked, ranging from an overly dry environment, blisters from hot concrete, chemicals in snow-melting compounds or pesticides. Whatever the cause, this is an agitation you shouldn’t leave unchecked, as it can quickly grow worse, resulting in serious injuries and infections. Cracked paws can also be caused by excessive licking induced by some other cause, much like chapped lips in a human who licks their lips too much.


Stress
Some dogs, especially those with more alert temperaments such as working dogs, will lick themselves as a form of self-stimulation when bored, stressed, afraid, or anxious. Think of a dog licking paws like this as akin to a human biting their fingernails; it can quickly get out of hand and lead to real injuries, even if there’s no initial physical threat to worry about. Be especially alert to this possibility if your dog has been through a big change or injury recently, or if they're not getting enough exercise. Once you’ve eliminated all other possible causes for your dog’s licking, this is the likely culprit.


Injuries
Dogs tend to nurse wounds, so sometimes dogs licking paws can be due to an injury in the paw or nearby. Be on the lookout for evidence of fractures, cuts, bruises, lodged objects, or other injuries, especially if the paw-licking started suddenly and become excessive without any real build up. Even if you don’t see an injury, you can’t be certain there isn’t one without consulting a professional, so take the sudden onset of licking very seriously.

 


Tumors

In older dogs of breeds prone to skin cancer, licking can be a response to tumors under the skin. While not all tumors are a big deal, any which causes a significant change to your dog behavior will need to be dealt with, benign or not. Excessive licking leads quickly to other problems, even if there’s no cancer to be found in the tumor causing it.

 


As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to pay attention to a dog licking paws. Even if there’s not an existing underlying condition, the licking itself can cause real damage over time. Don’t shrug off stress or mild allergies as a non-issue, or you’ll be paying a bigger vet bill down the line when your dog’s worn its paws raw and gotten an infection. Contact us today to learn more about your puppy’s paws and how to protect them!

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