PetMeds® Dog’s Excessive Paw Licking

This week we highlight questions asked by our PetMeds Facebook fans and answered by Dr. Dym.

PetMeds customer question: Why does my dog chew and lick so much in between his paws and underneath? There are no signs of anything in there, no lesions, and nothing looks wrong.

While many animal guardians think that their pet’s nails are often too long, the truly accurate answer to most of these cases is that their pet is suffering from some sort of allergy.  The most common type of allergy is known as atopy, which is contact and/or inhalant allergens that often manifest as the feet licking behavior. Amongst the common allergens include molds, grasses, trees, dander, house dust mites, ragweed, etc.

Excessive paw licking in dogs is usually the symptom of a pet suffering from an allergy

In simple cases, I will often recommend antihistamines like Benadryl or Chlorpheniramine, while in more complex cases prescriptions for cortisone type drugs like Temaril P or Prednisone may be needed. If secondary infections develop between the feet, then oral antibiotics or oral antifungals may be prescribed. Supplemental fatty acids such as Be Well or Super Pure Omega 3 can also help some allergic pets when used long term.  Wiping feet down after coming in walks on outside grasses can also sometimes help.

The other common cause of this feet licking behavior is food allergies. Even pets on the same diet for years can develop allergies to any of the proteins or grains in the food, which can often manifest as simply feet licking. In these cases, restricted protein diets with proteins like rabbit or venison for a period of a few months can often alleviate symptoms if food allergies are suspected. While some vets will offer blood testing for various food proteins, most veterinary dermatologists feel that the only way to diagnose accurately food allergies is to place the pet on a dietary trial with a novel protein for a period o a few months.

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  1. have an 8 lb. mini doxie, and she bites her paws till, till today it was bleeding. Will call vets, emergency number in AM. Sunday

  2. HI Lois: i would try oral benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. In this case, 1/2 children’s dose of benadryl twice daily would be good to start. Best to see local vet, however, as likely needs prescription antibiotic to treat secondary infection of feet. Underlying allergies need to be addressed and worked up at local vet or condition will recur.

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