Licking the Paws – Rhodes 2 Safety

licking paw

Licking the Paws – Rhodes 2 Safety

Licking the paws …….. Why?
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This is one of the most common questions I get asked and in all honesty, there is no simple straight-forward answer.  First we need to establish whether the dog is licking his paws because there is a medical condition causing his discomfort or whether it is simply a behaviour he’s got himself into a habit of doing.
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So, first things first – we need to try to rule out an underlying medical reason for the licking and to do that, we’ll need to employ a little detection and diagnosis session:
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* Which paw is being licked – is it one in particular, just the front ones, or all four?
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* Is the dog limping?
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* Is there any redness, hairloss, swelling, flaky skin, weeping or bleeding to be seen?
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* Are there any lumps, tumours or cysts between the pads or around the toes?
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* Are the toe nails too long or splintered? (even a tiny hairline crack can cause trouble)
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* Have they walked through a corrosive substance or irritant causing a burn to the skin?
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* Have they perhaps twisted an ankle and the pain is radiating causing them to lick?
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* Could your dog have arthritis which, though not visible, can cause pain/irritation to him?
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* Could there be a fungal or parasitic cause  such as Harvest Mites/Mange?
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* Could your dog be experiencing an allergy either topically or in his diet?
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* Does your dog have ear problems?  Often dogs with allergies suffer ear problems too.
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* Is there a foreign body in the pad or between the toes such as a grass seed or a thorn?
(if so, bathe the foot several times daily in tepid salt water – a teaspoon to a cup – until the object comes to the surface of the skin and can be easily removed.) A dab of Manuka honey will keep the wound clean and also help the skin to heal naturally. Remember, grass seeds have barbed tips so may be difficult to remove in which case, always take your dog to your vet for professional attention.)
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Often the cycle of itching and licking can be self propogating; the dog has itchy feet so he licks, the licking causes traumor to the skin surface making it sore, the soreness becomes itchy causing the dog to lick and so on.
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Have a think back.  It may be that none of the problems above are present, but have they happened in the past?  Remember that a foot-licking problem can originally stem from a medical one and later become a habit or a compulsive behavior.
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So, if the dogs is licking and you cannot see any specific cause or foreign object, it may simply be a habit that he has got into.  Some dogs when relaxing, bored or stressed lick their paws or even chew their nails.  When there is no apparent cause for the behaviour, it really is time to see your vet as he will likely be the only one to fully determine what is going on with your dog’s feet.
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Depending on the diagnosis your vet makes, there are various treatment which may be employed to resolve the licking:
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For infections and some cases of allergies, medication or dietary changes may be made although allergy testing may be necessary to get to the bottom of this cause.  It could be as simple as changing your food to raw if the maize or grain is causing an allergic reaction as it does in so many dogs.  Perhaps, if you already feed raw, the chickens in your dog’s diet may be maize fed and THIS could be the allergic connection?  Perhaps  it could be a yeast problem that your dog is experiencing (this is a cracking little article about yeast in dogs – http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/5-natural-solutions-for-yeast-in-dogs/?inf_contact_key=03fbad787591ff0b56efc540df13f5db9ced7ff1fc46a8282e55ca5285d86918
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Where pain (be it strains, sprains or arthritis) are the cause, analgesia will be given which should reduce the licking markedly in a very short time.
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Problems with the nails may require a professional trim if they’ve been allowed to get too long and are either curling round and ingrowing or simply pushing the dog’s toes up into an unnatural and painful position.  If the nails are fractured or splintered, it may be necessary to remove the nail completely, under sedation.
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Growths, tumours or abscesses are usually treated surgically.  It is likely that a biopsy may be taken and sent of for histological review so that the type of tumour can be diagnosed.  Not all tumours are dangerous and some may simply be removed and never cause another moment’s problem.
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If the foot-licking starts in summer, it could be due to burns from walking on hot pavements in the summer heat.
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If the behaviour starts in winter, it could be due either to cold burns from walking on ice or even coming into contact with anti-freeze or de-icer which may have been spilled on the pavement/road by a clumsy motorist.
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Where the licking is a habitual activity, behavioral modification will need to be undertaken but this takes time and dedication to alter.  Often the use of distraction techniques and games alongside the modification can help, but always seek a professional opinion to guide you through this type of resolution.

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