If you’re the owner of an Australian Shepherd (or any other dog, honestly), you may have noticed that your furry friend has a habit of licking their paws. While some paw licking is normal for dogs, excessive licking can be a sign of an underlying issue. In this post, we’ll explore why Australian Shepherds lick their paws and what you can do to stop it.
Why Australian Shepherds Lick Their Paws
Paw licking is a common behavior in dogs, and Australian Shepherds are no exception. While some paw licking is normal for dogs, excessive or obsessive licking can be a sign of an underlying issue. There are many reasons why Australian Shepherds may lick their paws excessively, including allergies, boredom, anxiety, injury, and underlying medical conditions.
Allergies are a common cause of paw licking in dogs. Your Australian Shepherd may be allergic to food, environmental factors such as pollen or dust, or even certain materials such as plastics or chemicals. Boredom and anxiety are also common triggers for excessive paw licking. Your dog may turn to paw licking as a way to relieve stress or entertain themselves when they’re feeling bored or anxious. Injury is another possible cause of paw licking, as your dog may lick their paws to alleviate discomfort or pain caused by a cut, burn, or other injury.
In some cases, underlying medical conditions may be the cause of excessive paw licking. For example, dogs with certain skin conditions such as dermatitis or fungal infections may lick their paws as a way to relieve itching and discomfort. Thyroid disorders and other hormonal imbalances can also cause your dog to lick their paws more than usual.
If your Australian Shepherd is licking their paws excessively, it’s important to identify the underlying cause so you can address it effectively. Working with your veterinarian can help you determine the root cause of your dog’s paw licking and develop a treatment plan to alleviate their discomfort and prevent further harm.
Dangers of Excessive Paw Licking
While some paw licking is normal for dogs, excessive or obsessive licking can lead to a number of health problems. Over time, excessive paw licking can cause your dog’s paws to become raw, inflamed, and irritated, making them vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections. The more your dog licks their paws, the more likely they are to develop open sores or hot spots, which can be painful and difficult to heal.
Excessive paw licking can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If your Australian Shepherd is licking their paws excessively due to an allergy, for example, they may develop secondary infections or skin conditions such as dermatitis or yeast infections. These infections can be uncomfortable for your dog and require treatment with medications such as antibiotics or antifungals.
In addition to physical health problems, excessive paw licking can also lead to behavioral issues. If your dog is excessively licking their paws, they may be anxious or stressed. This can lead to destructive behavior, separation anxiety, and other problems. Addressing the underlying cause of your dog’s paw licking can help prevent these behavioral issues from developing and improve your dog’s overall well-being.
It’s important to address excessive paw licking promptly to prevent further harm to your dog’s paws and overall health. If you notice your Australian Shepherd is licking their paws excessively, consult with your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan. With the right care and attention, you can help your furry friend live a happy and healthy life.
Steps to Prevent Paw Licking
Preventing excessive paw licking in your Australian Shepherd involves addressing the underlying cause of the behavior. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent paw licking:
- Identify the underlying cause: The first step in preventing paw licking is identifying the underlying cause. This can be done with the help of your veterinarian. Common causes include allergies, anxiety, and boredom. Once you know what’s causing your dog to lick their paws, you can take steps to address it.
- Change your dog’s diet: If your Australian Shepherd is licking their paws due to a food allergy, switching to a different type of food can help. Work with your veterinarian to find a high-quality, hypoallergenic dog food that meets your dog’s nutritional needs.
- Provide more exercise and mental stimulation: If your dog is licking their paws due to boredom or lack of exercise, providing more physical activity and mental stimulation can help. Take your dog on daily walks, provide plenty of toys and puzzles, and spend quality time playing with them.
- Use anti-licking products: There are a variety of anti-licking products available that can help prevent your dog from licking their paws. These include sprays, gels, and collars that are designed to discourage licking behavior.
- Provide positive reinforcement: Rewarding your dog for good behavior can help reinforce positive habits and prevent paw licking. When your dog is behaving well, offer praise, treats, and other rewards to encourage them to continue.
Remember, preventing excessive paw licking takes time and patience.
Work with your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of the behavior and develop a treatment plan that’s right for your dog.
With the right care and attention, you can help your Australian Shepherd live a happy, healthy, and paw-lick-free life.
Treating Paw Licking in Australian Shepherds
If your Australian Shepherd is already licking their paws excessively, there are several treatment options available. These include:
- Medicated shampoos: If your dog’s paw licking is caused by a skin condition or infection, your veterinarian may recommend a medicated shampoo. These shampoos can help soothe irritated skin and eliminate bacteria or fungi that may be contributing to the problem.
- Anti-itch medications: Anti-itch medications such as antihistamines or steroids can help reduce the urge to lick and scratch. However, these medications should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian, as they can have potential side effects.
- Behavioral therapy: If your dog’s paw licking is caused by anxiety or stress, behavioral therapy can help. This may involve training exercises, such as desensitization or counter-conditioning, or medications to help reduce anxiety.
- Addressing the underlying medical condition: If your dog’s paw licking is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as a food allergy or hormonal imbalance, addressing that condition can help reduce paw licking.
As a side note, you may need to cover up the paw while its recovering or healing. In my experience, using a winter dog boot has worked well, as it has velcro and prevents my furry friend from licking the healing, raw paw skin.
One more reminder – It’s super important to work with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for your dog’s individual needs. Some treatment options may require multiple visits to the vet or ongoing medication, while others may involve changes to your dog’s diet or lifestyle. With the right treatment, you can help your Australian Shepherd overcome excessive paw licking and improve their overall health and happiness.
In conclusion, paw licking is a common issue among Australian Shepherds and other dogs. While some paw licking is normal, excessive or obsessive licking can be a sign of an underlying issue and should be addressed promptly.
By understanding the reasons behind paw licking and taking appropriate steps to prevent and treat it, you can help your furry friend live a happy and healthy life.
Whether you need to change your dog’s diet, provide more exercise and stimulation, or seek veterinary care, there are many steps you can take to reduce paw licking in your Australian Shepherd. With patience, care, and the right treatment, you can help your dog overcome this common issue and enjoy a happy, healthy life together.