ASK DR CLAIRE
My dog licks everything & anything especially his paws…how do we stop him from licking…is it part of a Staffys makeup?
Licking is really just a symptom and can be the result of many underlying causes.
In this case, we really need to find the cause of the licking so that we can properly treat your puppy’s problem. This will help us reach the best treatment plan too.
Some of the underlying causes of licking everything might be:
- Sores in the mouth
- Gut problems and nausea (i.e inflammatory bowel disease)
- Metabolic issue
- Neurologic issue
- Behavioural issue i.e attention seeking, controlling behaviour
For dogs specifically paying attention to their paws, it’s important to need to check for infections as a cause (usually bacteria, yeast or mites) and consider allergic dermatitis (usually pollens, also food and fleas). Allergic dogs have a reduced skin barrier problem making them more susceptible to allergens. The licking tends to precede the infection. In this case dealing with the allergy or infection will stop or reduce the licking.
Allergies are particularly common in Staffys.
A hands-on examination from your local vet would be a great place to start.
Some basic tests need to be done to check for infection and parasites such as skin scrapes and sticky tape impressions to look for mites, and infection under the microscope.
It’s important to note that your dog’s diet is a big one to consider in licking at paws cases, especially as conditions such as food allergies can develop later in life. Sometimes eliminating the problem part of the diet is all that’s needed, whilst changing to an appropriately balanced home-cooked food or a hypoallergenic commercial one.
If medical issues are rules out and a behavioural cause is more likely it’s important to find out more about when the licking is happening, and how long for. Also, what you as the pet parent does when the licking happens. A gentle head collar can be helpful to help you better control their mouth and redirect them or distract them when it’s happening.
We’re here to help!