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Why do dogs lick their feet?

Updated on August 18, 2011

Dogs are naturally compulsive lickers. Notice how they would meet the master with generous licks on the face. Dogs lick other dogs too and it would not be surprising it they lick themselves.

Eeew! I’ve got filthy feet

Dogs lick their feet when they are dirty. A dog that has been active all day would have dirty feet. Because they have the penchant to dig it would not be surprising if the dog’s feet will be covered with mud. Dirt, stones and other materials that are embedded between the foot pads can be removed by licking.

Itchy, itchy, itchy

A dog’s feet and body can get very itchy if the dog is infested with fleas and other external parasites. The itchiness can also be an allergic reaction. Some dogs are sensitive to pollen and other allergens derived from food and from other substances.

My foot hurts

Burns, insect bites and cuts on the dog’s foot will be licked by the dog. The saliva of the dog has antibiotic capacities that will promote the healing process of a wound. Licking is also done to ease the pain. Humans would instinctively lick a burned finger. Dog do this too.

Gosh, I’m bored!

Feet licking can be due to a behavioral problem. Humans would bite the nails or continuously twirl a lock of hair when they are bored or stressed. Dogs that are left alone for a considerable time with no toys and without other pets to play with will be bored. Dogs that do not have anything better to do would lick their feet.

Stopping the feet licking addiction

Feet licking can not be considered a serious problem as long as it does not pose a danger to the health of the dog. However, in most cases, feet licking develop into an addiction. The dog would not stop licking the feet even if the principal cause of licking is already gone. The dog may no longer suffer from itchiness or the wound/cut may have already healed but the dog would incessantly lick the feet until raw irritated and painful sores are produced. These sores are called granuloma. Granuloma is pretty hard to cure as the dog would continue licking the sore. This is why pet owners should make sure that licking will not develop into an addiction. When you noticed your pet licking its feet examine the feet at once. Cuts and thorns on the dog’s feet will be very noticeable as the dog will limp or favor the injured foot. A foot that is itchy will be licked and bitten by the dog. Applying topical products with bitter or hot taste, using an Elizabethan collar would discourage the dog from licking the feet. Giving the pet toys is a good idea to distract the dog from its habit of feet licking.

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