Dogs are among the most loyal and lovable creatures on the planet. But have you wondered why they lick their paws? It may seem like a gross habit to some people, but there are several valid reasons behind this behavior.

Integrative veterinary expert Dr. Hunter Finn explains that some licking is natural but may be an indication of an underlying issue, like an allergy, infection, broken toenail, or foreign material stuck in the paw.

Learn more about your dog’s behavior by reading below or calling Pet Method for an appointment in McKinney, TX. Our team is dedicated to providing cutting-edge care for your furry loved ones.

Why dogs lick their paws

As mentioned, licking is normal behavior among dogs. It’s how they explore their bodies and the world around them. When your dog licks their paw, it could simply mean they are trying to better understand what that paw tastes like.

Dogs also lick their paws to groom themselves. While we might take a shower or brush our hair, dogs often lick to clean their fur. This is especially true after rolling around in the grass or mud.

However, not all licking is necessarily normal. Excess licking could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as:

  • Allergies: Your dog could be reacting to outdoor allergens like pollen or grass. They may try to relieve itchiness and irritation through licking.
  • Infections: Licking can be a sign of infection, either on the skin or in the paw pads. Watch for signs of redness and irritation around these areas.
  • Broken toenail: A broken toenail can be painful for your dog, and licking may be the only way to solve the problem. Trim their nails regularly to prevent this from happening.
  • Foreign material: Sometimes, small but invasive objects get stuck in a dog’s paw pads, and your dog is trying to pick them out. Be careful when walking your dog to avoid sharp objects like glass or metal.

When to be concerned about licking

Licking is often harmless, but there are certain circumstances where pet parents should be concerned. If your dog displays the following symptoms in McKinney, TX, call Pet Method right away for an appointment with a veterinary expert. Dr. Finn will work with you to determine the best course of action for your pup:

  • Excess licking that leads to red or inflamed skin
  • Sores or open wounds on the paw
  • Discoloration of the fur
  • Missing patches of fur

What happens during a consultation?

Pet Method will review your dog’s medical history and current condition during an appointment in our office. Dr. Finn asks about their diet, current exercise routine, and any other factors that may contribute to the problem. Of course, we also examine the affected area and run any tests as necessary.

Pet Method may recommend dietary changes, supplements, and/or medication to relieve your dog’s symptoms. We also provide at-home care instructions and schedule follow-up appointments.

Resolve issues with excess licking

Licking is perfectly normal for dogs but could be a sign of an underlying problem. If you notice excess licking or are concerned about your dog’s behavior, call Pet Method for a visit with integrative veterinary expert Dr. Hunter Finn. Our staff is proud to offer comprehensive veterinary care in McKinney, TX, and can help your furry friend feel their best.