It’s normal to see your dog licking paws occasionally. Dogs use this as a way of grooming and removing excess debris. However, excessive paw licking can be a cause for concern. It’s often an indication that your dog’s paws are feeling dry, itchy, or irritated.
There are many home remedies that you can use to get your dog to stop paw chewing or licking. Here are some of the best dog licking paws remedies, as well as some of the most common causes of excessive paw licking.
Causes Of Excessive Paw Licking
When your canine companion is licking their paws compulsively, it’s often a sign that the skin around their paws is feeling irritated. There are a number of different factors that can cause irritation around the paws and lead to compulsive paw licking or chewing. Here are some of the top causes of excessive paw licking.
- Dry skin: Just like humans, dogs can experience dry skin as a result of their environment. When the skin on their paws dries out, it can become very itchy and uncomfortable.
- Allergies: If your dog encounters a strong allergen, the skin on their paws can get very itchy. The paws are a hotspot for allergic reactions in dogs. Dogs can develop food allergies to certain products, specifically certain meats or dairy products. Identifying which food allergies your dog has is key to protecting them from further irritation. Environmental factors like smoke, pollen, and dust can also cause itchy skin in dogs.
- Pests: If your dog is carrying pests like fleas, mites, or ticks, their paws could be feeling very irritated. Fleas and mites are so small that they’re easy to miss, so it’s not uncommon for them to go untreated.
- Cuts and bruises: Your dog might be licking at their paws because of a small scrape or other injury they sustained while walking outside. If they’re feeling any kind of discomfort, they could be licking as a way to cope with the pain.
- Hormone imbalance: When dogs have hormone imbalances, it can result in issues with their fur and skin. This could be causing some excessive licking.
- Infection: Both bacterial and fungal infections can lead to paw licking. This is because they often result in swelling, itchiness, and other forms of discomfort.
- Anxiety: Another very common cause of paw licking is not physical at all, but instead has to do with your dog’s mental state. If they’re feeling stressed or anxious, they may lick or chew on their paws as a nervous habit to try to calm themselves down. This excess licking can cause even more irritation and discomfort, creating a vicious cycle of irritated paws.
1. Soak your dog’s paws in an apple cider vinegar mix
If you see your dog licking paws excessively but are unsure why they’re doing it, this is a good temporary fix until you can determine the root of the problem. The taste of apple cider vinegar will deter your dog from chewing at their paws and making the problem worse.
Since pure apple cider vinegar might be too intense for your dog, mix up a 50/50 ratio of apple cider vinegar and water. Make sure the water and the apple cider vinegar are fully mixed, and then gently dip your dog’s paws in.
You can also put the solution in a spray bottle to carry around with you. Be sure to check your dog’s paws for any scrapes or cuts beforehand – you won’t want to apply apple cider vinegar to any open skin.
2. Use a baking soda soak
This is an easy remedy that’s excellent for dogs with itchy or dry skin. It is a very helpful solution for allergic reactions. Baking soda helps to calm the irritation, thus reducing the temptation for paw licking. It works so well because it’s naturally anti-inflammatory and pH balancing. This means that if your dog comes into contact with an acidic irritant, the baking soda will neutralize it.
Put half a cup of baking soda into a bucket of warm water. Try to soak your dog’s paws for at least 10 minutes for the best results. You can repeat this process two to three times a day to reduce swelling and irritation quickly.
It might be difficult to get your dog to stay in the soak for the full 10 minutes – try rewarding them with treats as an incentive. You’ll also want to wait for a moment when they’re feeling relaxed to coax them into the bath.
3. Soak paws in oatmeal
You probably already know that oatmeal baths are good for soothing human rashes, but they can work just as well for your furry friend. Oatmeal is naturally very moisturizing, so it helps to nourish dry, cracked skin. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s excellent for swollen paws.
For this solution to be effective, the oatmeal needs to be completely natural, without any added sweeteners or flavors. Mix two cups of oatmeal into a bucket of warm water or a bath and let your dog’s paws soak for about 10 minutes. After a few soaks, you should start to notice the swelling and irritation start to go down.
4. Apply coconut oil
Coconut oil supports skin health and helps maintain the normal moisture content of the skin. It can also soothe skin-related issues associated with occasional or seasonal allergies. Coconut oil is completely safe to eat as well, so you won’t have to worry about your dog licking it off. You can opt to massage the coconut oil directly onto your dog’s paws, or you can add a little bit to your dog’s diet.
5. Reassess your dog’s diet
If you think your dog’s excessive paw licking could be the result of a food allergy, you may want to make some changes to their diet. Some of the most common food allergies in dogs are wheat, soy, eggs, beef, chicken, or fish, but there are many other things they can develop allergies to. To determine what foods your dog is allergic to, you’ll typically need to use an elimination diet. This is best done with the help of your vet.
First, you’ll need to switch to a diet that’s very simple and won’t continue to irritate your dog. Look for options that are free of wheat, soy, and other common allergens. You can also talk to your vet about homemade options that won’t trigger your dog’s allergies. If the irritation and paw licking is due to a food allergy, it should calm down in a few weeks.
Then, you can slowly introduce other ingredients back into your dog’s diet over time. New ingredients should be added one at a time, and you’ll need to wait a few days after introducing each ingredient to see if the irritation returns. Once you’ve identified what your dog is allergic to, you’ll be able to avoid those ingredients in the future.
6. Try a new dog shampoo
Most dog shampoos are designed to be very gentle, so it’s unlikely that they would cause any irritation. However, you may be able to use your dog shampoo to treat dry or irritated skin. There are many formulas that are designed specifically for irritation and sensitivity.
Look at the ingredients before making a purchase. Ideally, they should contain moisturizing properties, and they should also be natural so as not to further irritate your dog’s skin. You should also limit baths to once a week at most. If you’re bathing too often, it could actually make the irritation worse.
7. Try a chamomile bath
Chamomile is a natural herb that could be very helpful for calming your dog’s irritated paws. It is both anti-bacterial and an antioxidant. This means it can be helpful for soothing a bacterial infection on the paws.
Chamomile also has very calming properties – that’s why it is often used in herbal teas. Giving your dog a chamomile bath may help to soothe them if they’re feeling anxious. To give your dog a chamomile bath, mix chamomile with vinegar and put it into some warm water. Gently soak your dog’s paws for a few minutes to help with irritation.
You can also use chamomile tea as a way of treating irritation. Let the tea cool off and then apply some as a gentle rinse to your dog’s paws. You can also turn a chamomile tea bag into a compress if your dog doesn’t like having their paws soaked.
8. Use pest medication
If you think your dog’s paw chewing could be a result of fleas, ticks, or mites, make sure you’re using a pest medication to get rid of them. In addition to itchy paws, you might notice red or bumpy patches of skin if your dog has fleas. You may also see small black flecks on their fur, also known as flea dirt.
Skin irritation and dandruff could also be a sign of mites, which are another common pest. Ticks are much larger and are usually visible to the naked eye, but can also cause irritation. There are plenty of anti-flea medications that are available over the counter, and you can apply them directly to your dog’s fur to kill the bugs.
If you aren’t sure which flea medication to use with your dog, talk to your veterinarian for further assistance. They may even be able to prescribe a stronger anti-pest medication if the problem is getting out of hand.
Ideally, you should be applying flea medication to your dog about once a month, particularly if they spend a lot of time outside. Applying the medication regularly helps stop infestations before they get out of hand.
9. Use dog booties to protect their paws
If you think your dog’s paw licking may be the result of anxiety or stress, you’ll need to find ways to deter them from touching their paws. A good pair of dog booties can be a very effective solution.
Not only will the booties make it difficult for your dog to lick their paws, but they can also protect their paws from irritants when they are outside. You’ll need to make sure the booties fit your dog well and are very secure – otherwise, your dog might be able to pull them off. The booties should also be durable enough that your dog won’t be able to chew through them.
Of course, you’ll also need to make sure that you’re addressing the root of your dog’s anxiety as well. If you’re not sure exactly why your dog is feeling stressed, be sure to talk with your veterinarian to find a solution.
10. Explore OTC medications
There are some over the counter medications that can help stop your dog’s paws from itching. For example, triple antibiotic ointment can be very effective for soothing irritated paws. Not only can it heal a bacterial infection, but it is also very helpful for healing dry skin.
When putting any kind of topical medication on your dog’s paws, be sure to use some form of wrapping to prevent your dog from licking the medication off.
When To Consult Your Vet
Although these home remedies can be very effective, there are also going to be times when you’ll need professional advice. If you’ve tried home remedies without any results, or you can’t determine the cause of your pet’s itchy paws, talk to your vet for more advice. You should also consult your vet immediately if your dog is struggling to walk on their paws, or if the licking is otherwise interfering with their daily routine.
Dog Licking Paws: Our Final Thoughts
Your dog’s excessive paw licking can definitely be cause for concern. However, once you determine the cause of the problem, you can make adjustments to your dog’s lifestyle to help them feel more comfortable. These home remedies can be a very effective way to soothe your dog’s paws.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is paw licking normal?
While it’s normal for dogs to lick their paws occasionally, excessive or compulsive paw licking is usually an indication of discomfort.
Does anxiety cause excess paw licking?
Many dogs will lick their paws when they are feeling stressed. However, paw licking can also be the result of skin irritation.
Are there OTC treatments for excess paw licking?
Yes, and there are also many DIY treatments that you can make at home.
Can I put apple cider vinegar on my dog’s paws?
Yes – just make sure to dilute it with water to avoid causing further irritation.
How can I get my dog to stop licking their paws?
If the paw licking is a behavioral issue, you can use apple cider vinegar as a deterrent. Having extra chew toys around can also be very helpful.