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Dogs are known to be self-care animals, and one of the ways they do this is through licking and scratching. However, when a dog starts to lick and scratch excessively, or bite its paws, it can be a sign that something is not right. In this article, we will explore the possible causes behind this behavior and the steps and solutions owners can take to help their dogs stop excessive licking, scratching, or biting.
CAUSES MY DOG TO SCRATCH AND LICK HIMSELF A LOT
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You see how your dog won’t stop scratching and licking himself and you don’t know why he does it and you want to know how to help him. Well, you are in the right place. First of all, we have to figure out what the cause is and then attack the problem.
The usual causes of excessive scratching and licking are as follows:
- Skin irritation: Skin irritation is one of the most common causes of excessive scratching and licking. This can be due to allergies, insect bites, contact with irritating substances or even irritation caused by the constant rubbing of a collar, if he is wearing one.
- Allergies: Food or environmental allergies can trigger excessive licking and scratching in dogs. These allergies can manifest themselves through skin symptoms such as itching and redness. It is essential to consult a veterinarian.
- Parasites: Flea, tick or mite infestations can cause intense itching of the dog’s skin, leading to excessive scratching and licking.
- Skin problems: Skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, or fungal infections can cause skin irritation and itching. Again, your veterinarian has the solution.
- Anxiety or stress: Some dogs may lick or scratch excessively as a response to stress or anxiety. This behavior may be a form of self-medication to feel comforted. Stress can be caused by changes in the home, moving, separation from their owners, arrival of a new companion, whether it is another pet or another person. Anxiety can be generated by lack of exercise, spending too much time alone, and also by the same causes of stress.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG SCRATCHES AND LICKS A LOT?
- Visit the veterinarian: If you notice your dog licking or scratching excessively, the first thing you should do is schedule a visit to the veterinarian. Your pet’s health care professional can determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.
- Parasite control: Keep your dog protected against fleas, ticks, and other parasites with appropriate products and advice from your veterinarian.
- Food: If a food allergy is suspected, your veterinarian may recommend a change in diet or tests to identify specific allergens.
- Allergen-free environment: If environmental allergies are the cause, you can take steps to reduce exposure to allergens in the home, such as using air purifiers and cleaning regularly.
- Behavioral therapy: In cases of anxiety licking and scratching, behavioral therapy and training can help your dog manage stress in a healthier way. Paying more attention and playing with your dog can make a difference when he scratches and bites due to stress and anxiety.
- Medication: In some cases, the veterinarian may prescribe medication to relieve itching and reduce the need for scratching or licking.
Once the problem is detected, solutions can be found. Most of the time, scratching is usually accompanied by allergies, parasites, or skin problems, so if this is your case, do not suffer, your veterinarian will be your best ally. In cases where the problem is behavioral, do not make a world of yourself, sometimes it is simpler than it seems to find a solution. To help you solve stress and anxiety problems, read this article on what to do if my dog suffers from stress.
My dog scratches and bites his paws A LOT: Causes and Solutions
Another common behavior to be concerned about is when your dog chews excessively on his paws. It is natural to worry and seek to understand why he is having this behavior. This repetitive act can have a variety of causes. Let’s explore the reasons behind this behavior and the steps you can take to help your pet.
Common causes of a dog biting its paws:
Here are the usual reasons why your dog bites its paws, do not think it is only a thing of adult dogs, it can also be common for a puppy to bite its paws.
- Skin irritation or allergies: Skin irritation, food allergies or environmental allergies can cause a dog’s paws to itch. Paws are one of the most accessible areas for dogs to scratch or lick when they feel itchy or uncomfortable.
- Skin infections: Bacterial or fungal infections on the skin of the paws can be painful and itchy. Dogs may bite and lick themselves in an attempt to relieve the discomfort.
- Pain or injury: An injury to a paw or pads, such as a thorn, splinter or foreign body caught between the toes, may cause the dog to bite and lick the affected paw.
- Stress or anxiety: As with excessive licking and scratching, stress or anxiety can lead a dog to lick and bite its paws as a form of self-reward to relieve emotional tension.
- Boredom or compulsive behavior: Some dogs may develop compulsive behaviors, such as biting and licking their paws, due to boredom, lack of mental stimulation or lack of exercise. He may need more playtime, walks, or less alone time.
What to do to stop your dog from chewing its paws?
- Visit the veterinarian: The first thing to do if your dog chews and licks its paws is to schedule a veterinary consultation. The veterinarian can evaluate your pet to identify the underlying cause and propose the most appropriate treatment.
- Allergy management: If allergies are suspected as the cause, the veterinarian may recommend allergy testing and dietary adjustments or even medications to control allergic reactions.
- Treatment of infections: For skin infections, the veterinarian may prescribe medications, such as antibiotics or antifungals, to treat the infection.
- Pain or injury relief: If an injury or source of pain in the paws is identified, the veterinarian may prescribe pain relief medication and/or perform specific treatment.
- Address stress or boredom: For dogs that lick or chew their paws due to stress, anxiety or boredom, behavioral therapy, environmental enrichment, and exercise can be used to provide a healthy outlet for their energy and emotions. You must detect what the problem is to provide a solution, sometimes, it is as simple as providing more time with you for play, petting, and attention.
- Elizabethan collars or bells: In some severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend the use of a bell or Elizabethan collar, also called an Elizabethan collar, to prevent the dog from reaching its paws and chewing or licking excessively. In any case, the collar or bell is not a treatment nor does it solve the problem. It is usually used in extreme cases where more damage could be caused by continued biting or in case a medication is applied and the dog should not suck on it.
In conclusion, your dog may scratch and lick or bite its paws excessively for a variety of causes, from minor irritations to more serious medical problems. Early attention to this behavior and identification of the underlying cause are essential to ensure your pet’s well-being. Always consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
When your dog licks and bites his paws compulsively and there is no physical problem, as mentioned above, the problem is behavioral. We have already explained the usual causes (changes, moves, etc…) but it is important to know that, although it may seem difficult, and there are cases that are; frequently a small change in the owner’s attitude such as adding one more walk to the routine or, dedicating 15 minutes to play with the dog, or resuming joint activities that, for some reason, stopped being done, can work miracles.
To avoid these disorders it is important to know your dog and the characteristics of its breed. In our complete dog breeds information sheets you will find the necessary information to be able to take into account what is really important for your dog. Knowing how much daily exercise he needs, if he tolerates loneliness well, if he tends to suffer from anxiety or stress, his level of attachment, affection, etc… It is of great value to have this knowledge, that’s why we put it at your disposal.