Updated: Jun 7
Paw licking is a very common occurrence.
Unfortunately, most owners assume that paw licking is a sign of food allergies...
Truth is; it can be a huge clue into a deeper issue, and even a sign of an overall toxic environment.
Some causes of paw licking are:
Food allergies can cause inflammation, and GI imbalances such as disrupted microflora.
This can lead to yeast overgrowth and skin problems, such as itching.
High anxiety (you may see them obsessively lick)
Taking measures at reducing stressors is key.
This can be done with various supplements (such as herbs) or even providing your dog with some training or more enrichment activities. Cats are often stressed for various reasons, but there are ways to help them, too!
Dogs especially have been known to get foreign objects stuck in their paw pads and in between their toes. If you notice your dog excessively licking his paws, double check that their is nothing stuck in there.
Pollen and molds can cause skin irritation. If your dog licks their paws more so in the summer, try having a small foot bath by the door for when they come inside to clean off any irritants.
Think about how much touches your pet's paws/ body in a day.... A LOT!
Lawn fertilizer, household air fresheners, room sprays, carpet powders, ice melts, laundry detergents, and even flea and tick medications (they contain known neurotoxins). All of these are not meant to come into contact with skin, yet our pets are exposed to them routinely. Lessen the load on your pet by cleaning up their environment inside and out!
Did you know that paw licking can also mean your pet may be in pain?!
That's right! Chiropractic care and bodywork is important for animals too!
Nerves can get pinched, and joints can shift during normal daily activities, rough play and running, as well as with normal aging. This can produce tingling sensations, tightness, strained tendons & ligaments, etc. in limbs and extremities, causing the pet to lick and chew.
"I also noticed that front paw lickers often pulled on the leash or their guardians used a collar attached to a retractable leash. The dogs with hind foot licking were often sprinters and ball retrievers, and frequently had signs of para-spinal muscle injuries and strain of the lumbar spine."
This can also happen if a pet is overweight and there's excessive pressure on joints and nerves. Getting your pet evaluated by a certified animal chiropractor or a provider who is trained in myofascial bodywork can help!
Note: chiropractic care can also help alleviate other issues such as urinary incontinence and plugged anal glands.
Physical pain is a bit easier to notice than emotional pain. Just as birds pluck their feathers and self mutilate in distress.... Dogs and cats have been known to do this, too. *Circle back to the above when I touched on anxiety.
As you can see, there's no one answer for this common problem that I hear owners ask again and again.
I often like to do a full evaluation on not only the pet, their medical and diet history, but also take a detailed look and their environment, emotional well-being, activity level, lifestyle and behavior.
Taking this approach can gain valuable insight into what could be causing an imbalance in a dog or cat's system, that may be causing them to frequently lick and chew at their paws.
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