Does Your Dog’s Paw-Licking Indicate A Problem?

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Ugh! My dog licks its feet! It’s such a bad habit!

Many people look on in despair and frustration as their dog repeatedly licks at its feet. The never-ending licking seems to be carried out just to drive their owners crazy.

But what if this wasn’t just a bad habit?  What if the dog couldn’t help what it was doing? What if the licking was a cry for help because of allergies?

People with inhalant allergies are relatively easy to identify. Red watery eyes, stuffy nose and sneezing are the hallmarks for allergies in humans.  But what do they look like in a dog?  Look for one or more of these signs if you suspect allergies in your dog:

        • Licking repeatedly paws and forelegs
        • Scratching armpits
        • Chewing at their sides
        • Rubbing faces excessively
        • Recurrent ear infections
        • Redness around  the eyes

Like people, dogs can be allergic to tiny microscopic allergens that exist all around us. They go by the names of pollen, mold, house dust and dust mites–just to name a few.  So how do these tiny allergens get inside your dog?  It may be as plain as the nose on your dog’s face. By simply breathing, those little invisible allergens have a free pass into your dog’s body.  For some dogs, that’s all it takes to push the immune system to overreact.

Does this mean you are helpless to help your dog?  Not at all!  You can fight back.  The following plan of attack addresses natural ways to decrease your pets exposure to allergens:

1. Bathe your pet weekly with a mild soap-free shampoo.  Use cool water & avoid overzealous scrubbing that may aggravate inflamed skin.

2. After your dog has been outside, rinse off their feet and run a damp cloth or fragrance-free wipe over their faces & coats.

3. For those dogs who would enjoy it, consider a cool rinse with the garden hose or a dip in a baby pool filled with cool water & an oatmeal soak.

4. Dogs with severely inflamed feet may benefit from either/or Epsom salt soaks, or a 50/50  mixture of white vinegar  and cool water.

5. Wash all bedding regularly with hot water & bleach (if appropriate) to deter house dust mites.

6. Use HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters in vacuum bags and in your home air conditioning units.  These filters are designed to target and trap small pollutants and particles which trigger allergy symptoms.

7.  Add local honey to your pet’s food. Locally produced honey supposedly contains local plant pollens.  It is believed by some that consuming honey that contains pollen to which one is allergic would improve allergies.

8.  Avoid exposure to wool materials, plastic food and water bowls, carpet fresheners and cigarette  smoke–all known to cause allergies in dogs.

It is always a good idea to contact your regular veterinarian to make sure that what you do is appropriate and safe for your pet. Your veterinarian may suggest a visit to evaluate if your pet needs additional testing or medication that will  encourage timely healing and promote comfort.

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Posted on February 12, 2013, in Pet Care: Dogs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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