Quotidian Blogger

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws? A Simple Guide

A photo of four different types of dogs.
Want to have a unique kind of training for your dogs? See here.
Dogs are man’s best friends. They are one of the most faithful animals out there. We all know that and there is no doubt about it. They are very talented and oozing with astonishing skills. If trained properly, they can perform some jaw-dropping skills that we have not seen before.
Nowadays, dogs are considered to be an essential part of our daily lives. They serve as our bodyguards, personal assistance, playmates, or even runners for an errand, in rare cases. They can also sniff contraband and run after perpetrators if asked to.
Like humans, dogs are treated not just cute animals that usually growl and bark at night, but they are also considered as part of our extended family. We let them lick our faces, eat with us, stay inside our home, and sleep beside us. 
Dogs are intelligent and often hyperactive animals. They love to be cuddled and are always eager to play with us or with other dogs. Because of their intelligence and hyperactive behavior, they try to do several things—and licking of paws is of no exemption.
Normally, when we see our dog licking its paws we just shrug it off and ignore it because we think that it is just part of our dog’s lifestyle. However, have you ever crossed in your mind and asked yourself why our little pooches lick their paws? Is it just normal? A habit? Or, something that we need to worry about?
Most of the time, we disregard and often unaware of our dog’s real conditions. It is simply because we pay little or no attention to them. And since we are often very busy doing our stuff, we forget to attend to their needs.
However, it is no longer normal and it is already alarming to see our dogs keep on licking and licking their paws without stopping. For sure, there are several reasons behind it that need to be uncovered. In this article, we will figure out and determine the common reasons why our dear best friends love to lick their paws.

Habit

The first culprit and probably the most common one is this thing called habit. Like humans, dogs exhibit some sort of quirkiness such as chasing their tails and hiding some food and stuff somewhere. We are usually in great awe when we see our little friends portray these kinds of behavior.
Dogs like to go anywhere. They want to explore various things around them. Like some of us who are fond of nail-biting, our loyal friends also do unnecessary things such as, nipping and licking their paws. That is why we need to constantly remind ourselves to keep our important things (gadgets, documents, etc.) away from our dogs if we do not want them ending up in our dog’s mouth.
Generally, dogs lick their paws as part of their grooming needs. Some dogs do grooming while others seldom do it. They might also do this to respond from an unwanted itch or to be soothed and be relieved from whatever stresses they might have experienced.
Experts suggest that a common way to handle dogs’ licking habit is to divert their attention by either calling their names or by giving them some toys to play with.  Moreover, they added that there is little or nothing much to worry about if our dog licks its paws every once in a while.
In some cases, licking of paws happens when dogs are disgruntled over something, especially if they could not get what they want.  However, constant licking is not already a good sign and may give us a certain clue that there is something wrong hidden in our dog’s lovely paws. In that case, we need to do something by examining or checking it by ourselves to determine what lies underneath; and whether or not our dogs need immediate attention.
A picture of a bored dog on a couch.
Want to have a unique kind of training for your dogs? See here.

Boredom

Another reason why dogs lick their paws signifies that they are already bored and want to do something productive and more enjoyable. Like humans, dogs may also suffer from boredom, which we hardly notice.
Dr. Marty Becker, a veterinarian and founder of  Fear Free Pets – Taking the “Pet” Out of “Petrified” for All Animals (http://fearfreepets.com), a group that teaches people on how their pets can relieve stress and fear), said that some dogs lick their paws simply because they do not have anything to do.
If dogs are not doing anything, they will get bored. And if they get bored, they started to show uneasiness. If neglected, it may lead to a higher form of a problem called anxiety, which is a little bit more difficult to deal with.
Since dogs need special attention and care and since they are also prone to boredom, we need them to provide something that keeps them entertained. They need some sort of specialized training and playing activities, exercises, and socialization abilities to reach their maximum potential.
However, not all dogs receive similar training activities. The training to be given will also depend upon the type of dogs. Smart dogs such as Labrador retriever, German shepherd, and Rottweiler need a higher form of training though, said some experts.
Like us, dogs also need to get some good exercise to keep them fit and active all the time. A good exercise can make our dogs joyful and healthy. It can also alleviate some sort of behavioral problem. A simple walk in the park every morning will do. Besides, running the stairs up and down will also help them ease the boredom.
Aside from that, our woofers and puppers also need to mingle with other people and animals to develop their socialization skills. Like we normally do, dogs need also to befriend others to find their BFFs. The saying, “No Man is an Island,” is not only applicable to humans, but it is useful to dogs and other animals as well.
Several ways can help our dogs to be more friendly and sociable. One thing is to take them to dogs’ theme parks and daycare centers where they have the opportunity to meet and greet new friends (and who knows they might as well find the love of their life!).
Through socialization, our lovely pets learn to respond to the world around them in a positive way. They will also develop great confidence which can be manifested through their good behavior.
A photo of four huskies driving a sled on the snow.
Want to have a unique kind of training for your dogs? See here.

Health-Related Issues

“Health is Wealth.” We have heard this old quotation several times before. Although it is primarily intended for humans, it is also applicable to animals. Of course, we do not want our dogs to get sick and suffer from any form of the disease. We always make sure that our pets are safe and healthy at the same time. I have once heard someone saying that healthy dogs are happy dogs. True, indeed! Unfortunately, a problem in health is inevitable and is also hard to predict.
The third—and perhaps­—the major culprit why dogs lick their paws has something to do with their condition, either physical or mental. The health issue is very common in dogs as in any other animal. It needs medical intervention from experts like our veterinarians and animal behaviorists.
There are probably tons of health-related issues to dogs, but the most common ones and that are likely to be blamed are allergy, parasite, anxiety, aging, and pain. These problems pose massive threats to our lovely dogs. They need prompt action and must be taken seriously to avoid further complications.
Like humans, dogs are also food lovers. They eat as much as they could. They will munch almost anything that is given to them even if the food is not suited for them. Chicken, fish, and eggs are sometimes given to our pets. Without our knowledge, these kinds of food are not healthy for dogs as they contain allergens, said some experts.
Because of that, dogs have a high chance of getting allergies. Allergies are not only obtained from the food that they eat, but they can also be found in supplements, soaps, and shampoos that we regularly use to them.  We may not know it, but some commercial products contain strong substances that can irritate the dog’s skin.
If this happens, discontinue using the products and find alternative ones. We may also consult our favorite vet as they are well-trained and know what is good and bad for our beloved dogs.
An infestation of parasites such as ticks and fleas are also to be blamed. They irritate our doggies’ skin which can compel them to lick their paws. On the other hand, the licking of paws is also attributed to anxiety. If humans can get anxiety, so do our lovely pets too!  Dogs are not exempted from it.
Anxiety is also common to dogs and other animals. One of the factors that trigger a dog’s anxiety is a stranger. Dogs are said to be territorial. They do not want others to invade their space. When they see new faces, they usually growl and bark to signal their human bosses of a possible or impending danger. Besides, problems with other animals and earsplitting sounds such as fireworks can also make our lovely dogs more agitated.
Furthermore, age and pain are also triggering factors that can lead to the licking of paws. As the dogs get older, their bodies are also getting weaker. And their capacity to think and learn will greatly be affected.
Pain, on the other hand, is also associated with licking. Thorns, cuts or wounds, and stings and bites from insects and other animals might be some of the culprits that we need to be watched out for. These culprits can make our dogs in great discomfort.
That is why it is a must that we check our dog’s paws and other body parts from time to time. By doing so, we will be able to rule out whether or not we can treat them by ourselves, or if they need immediate help from our dear veterinarians.
A photo of three dogs looking up.
Want to have a unique kind of training for your dogs? See here.

Summary

Perhaps, there are multitudes of problems out there related to a dog’s licking activity. However, the things mentioned above are the most common ones. Since we know already some of the reasons behind this licking behavior, it is no longer difficult for us to understand our lovely dogs.
Licking of paws is just normal, but frequent licking is not and may indicate that something is not right already. With enough knowledge about the condition of our dearest friends, we will be able to be more attentive next time. We will be able to catch the real culprit. We will be able to provide the right things and activities that are dogs badly need. And, we will be able to find out whether or not our dogs need immediate care.
As pet owners, it is our sole responsibility to take care of our canine friends. We know that our furry friends need us. They need our tender love and our compassionate heart to better understand their situation.
They might be stubborn at times, but they are also selfless and armored with unconditional love. Our loyal friends will always cling to us no matter what. But, without us, they are also nothing. We are the key to their survival… and their life also lies in our bare hands.

Images credited to: pexels.com

Sources:

eckstpets.webmd.com

fapethelpful.com

fitzroyvet.com.au

thebark.com

www.akc.org

www.allthingsdogs.com

www.drmartybecker.com

www.reedanimalhospital.com

www.sciencealert.com

www.thesprucepets.com

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