Lick, lick, lick! Your dog is licking its paws and it’s driving both of you crazy. Owners usually think its because of skin allergies and they try remedy after remedy but nothing seems to help. Skin allergies are a cause of paw licking but there are many other possible causes. The best way in my opinion to approach paw licking is to find out what is causing it. As soon as we have the cause then we can treat appropriately.
Firstly have a look and see if its just one paw or more than one paw. Examine the paw well and see if you can visualise a bump, any redness or cuts.
The following causes usually only affect one paw
1) There‘s a foreign body. Sometimes grass seeds penetrate the skin between the toes, causing redness and swelling. A small entry point may be visible, and if there is a secondary infection, you may see a yellow discharge. Your vet will need to sedate your pet and open the area to remove the foreign body.
2) Torn toenail. Check all the nails and nail beds. Torn toenails are very painful and sensitive. Your vet will normally sedate your pet and remove the affected nail or trim it, depending on where the damage is. Sometimes the quick of the nail is then exposed and your pet may need a bandage for a few days.
3) Neural pain. A pinched nerve in the neck or back could cause a shooting, burning sensation down the leg towards the paw. The dog will often lick the area, including the paw, to relieve this awkward sensation. Acupuncture is very effective in treating referred neural pain. If your pet is not responding, your vet may request X-rays or an MRI.
The following could affect between 1-4 paws
4) Cut paw pad. Small cuts on the paw pads can take a long time to heal. They are usually painful to the touch and dogs will continually lick them. Your vet would normally bandage the paw to allow the cut to heal properly.
5) Secondary yeast infections. Any irritation to the skin between the paw pads can disrupt the natural microbes of the skin. When this happens, we sometimes see bacterial and yeast infections, which are extremely itchy and can exacerbate paw licking. When yeast infections are the cause, your pet will need antibiotics and anti-fungals.
6) Psychological. Since endorphins are released when your dog licks, some dogs may become excessive paw lickers out of boredom or anxiety. They simply feel a little better when they lick. Make sure your pet gets adequate exercise, has toys and chews, and plenty of interaction with you, the main human in his life; also try natural anti-anxiety products. In severe cases, one may need to consider doggy anti-depressants.
7) Arthritis or general pain. Pain will often cause dogs to lick, and arthritic pain may well be the culprit. Licking stimulates the body to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good hormones’ and the body’s natural pain relievers. The pain could be located anywhere in the body; an arthritic pet may be unable to reach painful joints such as the hip and will lick the paws simply because they’re closest. These pets usually respond very well to acupuncture as a natural way of managing pain. In severe cases, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories and painkillers and may request X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.
The following usually affect all four paws
8) Contact allergy. Contact allergens such as grasses and various cleaning products can aggravate the sensitive skin between your pet’s paw pads, causing redness and irritation of the skin. If you’ve noticed this reaction frequently after walks, try rinsing your dog’s paws with water after walks, and observe if there is any change. You can also cover their feet with boots or rubber socks.
9) Food allergy dermatitis. Certain proteins and carbohydrates can cause allergies in pets, usually manifesting in the skin. The paws are often affected. You will need to do a 12-week exclusion diet, removing one suspect ingredient at a time and observing the results.
10) Flea allergy dermatitis. Some pets are allergic to a protein in the saliva of fleas. One flea bite can make them itchy all over. Make sure you treat your pet for fleas every month.
Allergy Relief Remedy, with a delicious beef flavour, has been specially formulated with 3 herbs traditionally known for supporting and balancing the immune system. This remedy will also assist in protecting dogs against allergens such as grass, fleas, certain foods and pollens. Itchy paws, runny eyes and itchy skin are symptoms associated with allergies. Offer dogs relief and keep their tails wagging with this easy to use remedy!
Allergy Relief Wipes are infused with Rooibos, Aloe and Trehalose to aid in protecting dogs against allergens such as dander, grass and pollens. Itchy paws, itchy skin and runny eyes are symptoms associated with allergies. Offer your pooches the relief they need and keep their tails wagging with these easy-to-use wipes.
You will find the Regal range stocked across selected Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers, Spar and vet and pet shops around the country. We are also stocked in all Dis-Chem outlets nationwide.