Dog Keeps Licking Its Paw: a Disease or Lack of Attention?


When a dog constantly licks its paws, if it does so often and for a considerably period of time, an attentive owner should consider the reasons behind the peculiar behavior of his or her pet. First of all, a thorough visual inspection of the limbs and an assessment of overall health: mobility, appetite, mood –  this will make it possible to identify this problem. If there are no other visible signs of divergences from the norm, a visit to a veterinary clinic can help to determine the nature of this newly developed habit in the canine companion.

Possible Causes of the Behavior

Situations when a dog licks its paws to blood are dangerous not only because an open wound itself is a painful condition and can become a source of inflammation, but also as a manifestation of symptoms of diseases that are not plain at first glance. The list of suspected underlying causes consists of the following:

  1. dog licking his pawPsychiatric disorders. Boredom, lack of attention from the guardian, his or her frequent and long absence, rare outings, – all these affect both mental and emotional state of the animal. In loneliness and longing, the pet finds an affordable occupation, which indirectly contributes to the attention shown by the guardian. The dog licks its paws to blood, and the owner, concerned with the condition of the pet, begins to take care and show more interest in the animal’s state of health, communicates more. Thus the pet forms a negative reflex that allows it to get the desired portion of the master’s care. Constant gnawing of the limbs may also indicate obsessive-compulsive disorder. The symptom is that the animal performs repetitive actions bringing self-harm. The causes of the disease are ambiguous, and in most cases are a result of isolation and lack of communication.
  2. Neurological diseases. The veterinary practice shows that licking of the limbs in pets often serves as a symptom of muscle spasms of the interscapular zone or pinching of the cervical spine nerve. More often this disease is manifested in watch dogs and is caused by sharp jerks.
  3. dog licks his pawJoint problems. Arthritis and arthrosis in animals brings the need to soothe the discomfort in the sore limb by licking.  Concomitant symptoms are the constrained movements of the pet after rest and sleep, stiffness, swelling of the joints.
  4. Allergic reactions. Any chemicals can be the allergy-causing agent: gasoline, household products, shampoos, food components. They cause itchy skin and dry coat, forcing the pet to lick the discomforted area. To precisely determine the type of an allergen, special laboratory tests have to be performed.
  5. Injuries and inflammations. Splinters, scratches, cuts and other injuries on the paw pads lead to sensitiveness in dog, and it begins to lick the wound in order to soothe the unpleasant feeling. Lack of treatment can lead to the infiltration of the infection into the bloodstream, which My trigger inflammatory processes of various nature.
  6. Rash between fingers. Long wool coat may be the cause of inflammation and itching. By licking the animal relieves soreness.
  7. Fleas, ticks. Often, the insects bite the dogs in between the fingers, which is why the dog may start biting and licking the bitten area. Sometimes this situation is aggravated by allergic reactions that can cause an swellings of varying severity or in rare cases even an anaphylactic shock.
  8. dog licks front pawFungal infections. Infection caused by pathogenic microorganisms affects physically weakened animals with compromised immune system. The source of the disease can be dirt, household waste, with which the dog has been in contact during its daily outing. In order to accurately determine the type of infection, laboratory tests and scraping is required. Regular hygienic procedures after outings and affirmative actions as of the general physical health will eliminate the likelihood of the infiltration of fungal microflora into the dog’s organism.
  9. Gastrointestinal Upset. Improper nutrition causes a dislocation of balance in the dog’s body, accompanied by vomiting processes that provide a partial cleansing of the body.
  10. Long claws. Gnawing on too claws by damages the nail plate and can injure the cpaw itself. Taking good care of the claws and their timely trimming can be a preventive action.

Upon careful and regular examination of the condition of the pet’s paws, some causes may be easily eliminated at home. But more serious cases require an expert advice from a veterinarian and a comprehensive examination of the animal. Thus, if the dog begins licking an injured paw, first pf all try to assess the general condition of the pet and then make the decision on the adequate treatment measures.

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