by Valerie Trumps
Dog Licking Paws? Here’s Why
Dogs licking themselves is as much a part of their lives as begging for bones. But canines who chew their paws can be disturbing to pet parents. Here’s why they do it, how to know if it’s become a problem, and how to put the kibosh on it.
Probably the most common physical reason that dogs chew on their paws is because they’ve developed a skin problem due to allergies. Food, their environment, seasonal changes and their accompanying foliage, rugs, and even chemicals can all cause allergic reactions. Fido’s natural response is to try to chew off the offending substance. Since their paws are exposed to everything they walk on, pooches have a tendency to pick up what they step on and then try to remove it themselves.
Allergies can also cause a maddening, unrelenting itching. Doggies use their paws to scratch other areas of their bodies, but can’t manage to scratch their paws. The next best thing is the sharpness of their teeth. Chewing the itch gives Fido some temporary relief but, obviously, the problem hasn’t been solved.
If your pup has arthritis or other body aches, the hardest hit areas of his body are those in constant motion, such as his legs and paws. He may try to deal with the pain by chewing on the parts that ache – sort of like when we scratch ourselves raw. His philosophy could be that at least the pain he’s causing himself is controllable and is easier to handle than the mysterious arthritic throbbing.
Those pesky mites, ticks, and fleas must die, and your pooch has just the solution – chew them to death. Parasite bites are so sudden and sharp that a dog’s natural reaction is to stop the biting by murdering the offender. Even after the bite, the site’s soreness and itchiness can make your doggie continue to bite the spot in an attempt to make it stop hurting.
Yeast can invade Fido’s nail beds, causing discomfort and itching that just won’t quit. If our dog has clear nails, this chewing reason is easy to spot. His nails will be discolored at the base in a dark red hue, with red and irritated skin around the nails. Our pup’s saliva will stain his fur reddish from all the chewing. Unfortunately, none of the prior causes are as easy to detect.
Dogs’ “shoes” are their paws (unless you put cute little booties on him), and their path is not always free of invaders. Glass shards, sharp rocks, burrs from grassy walks, or splinters can puncture his paw pads, and your pup might try to chew them out. Especially if there’s no blood to alert mom or dad that he’s got a cut, the foreign object may eventually lead to an infection.
If none of the reasons above apply, your pooch may be bored and looking for a little excitement by chewing himself up. Try giving him something more appropriate to chew on, like a bone, rawhide, or a fill-able rubber toy with peanut butter inside. Increase his playtime by chasing him around the yard, giving him more walks, or playing fetch or Frisbee with him. If his chewing diminishes or, hopefully, ceases, you’ve found the cause and know how to fix it.
Observe and Report
The best person to determine if the chewing has become a problem, prior to a visit to the veterinarian, is you. If Fido occasionally will give his paws a bite or two during a cleaning session, no worries. He might just be trying to get something sticky off or pry away a little dead skin. Give his paws a look-see to make sure he has no cuts, yeast, or fleas and let him go along his merry way.
However, if his chewing becomes more frequent and prolonged than normal and especially if it increases suddenly, off to the vet he goes to see what’s going on. Signs that he’s become an excessive chewer are bleeding, fur loss, continuing to do it despite your efforts to make him quit (see Boredom), and whining while he’s chewing away. Your veterinarian is the best line of defense in diagnosing what is causing his excessive chewing and prescribing something to alleviate the source.
Nothing’s Wrong, But He’s Still Chewing
If your vet has determined there is no biological cause for his chewing, and your efforts to relieve his boredom don’t deter his teeth from his paws, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Consider the possibility that your pooch is anxious and purchase a product (preferably natural) to address it, along with spending more quality calming time petting and soothing him. While at your pet supply store, also buy some bitter apple topical solution. Dogs hate the taste and will not lick or chew wherever you put it.
Sometimes a little TLC and a bad taste in his mouth is all he needs to change his behavior.
Image: Michael Whitney / via Flickr
This article is posted and shared by http://www.pet360.com/