Why does the dog lick its paw?

It is possible that you have already seen our puppy licking frequently the cushions and have not given much importance to the subject, since many dogs do it without this necessarily representing a serious problem. But sometimes licking becomes excessive and can cause secondary injuries , caused by too vigorous licking or small bites in the area.

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YourCatCareguide has prepared for you an overview of the subject, which will surely answer the question: Why does the dog compulsively lick his paw?

You might also be interested in: Why Cats Lick Each Other

Sweat glands on cushions

Before we find out why our dog licks the cushions, it is important that you first know that there are sweat glands in them. The dogs sweat through different parts of the body , one of them being the cushions.

These glands have a mainly thermoregulatory function (they release sweat to regulate the temperature), but there is also an odoriferous component , that is, they are in charge of producing substances that degrade by the action of the bacteria present in the skin upon reaching the skin surface. The same glands give the dog (or cat) a characteristic smell (that is why these animals also mark territory with the plantar pads and palmares).

Licking cushions due to excessive cold or heat

In extreme climates with very low temperatures, these secretions of the sweat glands can form small crystals and cause discomfort in dogs that live in very cold environments. For this reason, dogs selected to pull sleds, such as the Siberian husky or the Alaskan malamute, have far fewer sweat glands in the cushions compared to other breeds. Possibly, by reproducing only the dogs that did not have this problem, they were able to select this characteristic.

Sometimes there are no problems with the glands, but the skin of the pads becomes cracked and cracked due to the cold . This is often the case when dogs walk on snow or lots of rocks, so they start licking compulsively the cushions.

On hot and humid days , it is advisable to wet the pads of our dog, precisely because it is a source of regulation of body temperature. This cleansing helps to eliminate the remains of the production of the eccrine and apocrine glands, letting them fulfill their mission.

To give you an idea, the body produces a secretion that helps lower the temperature. It may happen that a large amount of old secretions forming a “cap” causing the itching and intense discomfort that our dog relieves through licking is at the outlet of the gland channel .

How to avoid licking cushions by cold or heat?

If your dog has sensitive pads and is exposed to extreme temperatures, it is recommended that you use some protective product (a kind of varnish itself on the pads) which is usually the combination of acids with Aloe vera extracts or Asian spark .

On the other hand, on days of excessive heat, it is advisable to cool our dog by frequently wetting the pads with fresh water, a way to aid thermoregulation and eliminate the remains of substances that can prevent a proper functioning of the sweat glands.

Diseases in dogs paws pads

Our dog may be itchy because it has an infection caused by Malassezia pachydermatis .

This fungus is present in the whole body, but is in greater numbers in the cushions, specifically in the interdigital zone (among other places).

If our dog suffers from an overgrowth of fungi , whether it is allergic to pollen, food, stress … etc, it is possible that the first sign is excessive licking of the cushions. This happens because the increase of the population of Malassezia and the consequent invasion of opportunistic bacteria provoke much itching.

We usually find white- colored dogs with an orange color around their toes because the licks cause a degradation of the white color.

How to treat lint pads because of Malassezia overpopulation ?

It is necessary to discover the cause that caused the overgrowth of these fungi between the fingers and eliminate it or at least control it. The population of these fungi can be controlled with daily local baths with chlorhexidine diluted without soap. This mixture should be in contact with the pads for 10 to 15 minutes per day (chlorhexidine works by contact time). Even so, we must keep the areas as dry as possible because fungi or yeasts love to proliferate in humid places.

On some occasions, our veterinarian will recommend miconazole or clotrimazole ointments if our dog does not let his paws wet. The application of this genre of products can be very complicated in some dogs.

Licking cushions due to the presence of spikes or trauma

At other times, our dog will persistently lick cushions from traumatic causes (a blow, a fissure on a phalanx) or because it has a spike or spiked nail. But, contrary to what happens in previous situations, there will only be one affected paw : the one in which an injury has occurred .

During the summer, it is common for a few spikes to be pinched between the toes , especially in breeds with a lot of fur in the area such as the cocker spaniel, and because they have such an enormous amount of hair the ears go unnoticed. Once they pierce the interdigital skin barrier, they can be lodged there, causing a lot of pain, itching and licking in the area to relieve discomfort. Not always the spike leaves, sometimes it migrates to other areas under the skin.

You should carefully check the cushions in the summer and cut the hair from that area. If you find something spiked, you should carefully remove and apply some non-aggressive or irritating antiseptic (iodine diluted in saline for example) until you consult your veterinarian.

Compulsive behaviors

If you have ruled out all the problems mentioned above, the problem may be a compulsive behavior, also known as stereotypy . We can define this problem as a repetitive behavior and for no apparent reason .

If you believe your dog might be suffering from a stereotype, you should review the five freedoms of animal welfare , as well as contact a specialist, an ethologist: a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior.

To find out what dog foot care you should have, read our article on that subject.

This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

If you want to read the similar articles, click here. , we recommend that you enter our section on Other health problems .

Emily Harris

Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-p I am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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