Ask Dr Claire

What can I use on my West Highland Terrier’s paw to stop him licking it? (he has a collar but it annoys him)

Licking paws is really just a symptom and can be the result of many underlying causes. Its a common symptom of an itchy dog with an underlying allergy, but also occurs when the paw itself is sore. Causes include include:

  • Allergies– environmental pollens, food, fleas. We know that when humans have allergies to pollens etc they react by sneezing or getting watery eyes. In dogs, the common reaction to an allergen is that their skin gets itchy, which can result in licking of the paws. Allergies are very common in Westies.
  • Mites– demodex or sarcoptes. Your local vet needs to do some simple tests to diagnose these, a few skin scrapes are performed (no anaesthetic needed) and then they look under the microscope, searching for the mites.
  • Direct irritant–  such as a topical cream, weed, wash or insect bite.
  • Sore paw–  i.e torn nail, infection, grass seed in the skin etc.
  • Arthritis–  sore joints can also cause a dog to lick their paws.

In this case, we really need to find the cause of the vomiting so that we can treat your dog’s problem (not just the symptom). This will help us reach the best treatment plan too.

Tools to stop licking (only helpful when appropriate treatment is already in place) include buster collars (sounds like you have one of these) or kong clouds are really good- from vets or pet shops. Dogs tolerate these well and the right size will stop them being able to lick their paws. Otherwise,  distraction from licking is a great tool- but you would have to be there all the time. The use of bandages or boots are not helpful when dogs have been licking their paws as infection can fester underneath.

A hands-on examination from your local vet would be a great place to start.

If you’d like to chat in person, you can book a vet on a live video call or start a chat to discuss in more detail as soon as possible.

We’re here to help!

Chat soon,
Dr Claire