If you have a dog that obsessively and constantly licks his paws, it may be difficult to find out what the root cause of this behavior is and how to stop it. A Westie licking its paws is a common habit with this breed because they’re so prone to skin issues, but they may not be the case.
We’re going to outline the top nine reasons why your Westie could be obsessively licking his feet. When you get to the bottom of your dog’s behavior, you can start on a treatment plan to hopefully break them of this habit and get rid of any stains that may appear as a result.
Your dog walks in everything when they go outside, and this can include things that they may be allergic too like pollen or certain grasses. These allergens can get stuck in the fur on the bottom of their feet and between their pads and cause irritation or itching.
As a response, your dog may scratch or bite at the area to help alleviate the itching or inflammation caused by the allergens. You can help calm this irritation by wiping your dog’s feet off with a wet wipe each time they come in from outside because this can help remove any allergens.
Anxiety can cause your Westie to partake in behaviors they normally wouldn’t as an attempt to self soothe like obsessively licking their paws. Anxiety can stem from several causes that vary from dog to dog, but the most common causes of anxiety include:
- Lack of Exercise
Your veterinarian may have some medical options to try to calm your dog down, or you can always schedule a dog walker to come in when you’re gone and take your dog on a short walk to help tire them out.
Dogs who have higher energy levels that spend a lot of time by themselves either indoors or outside without any stimulation can get bored and frustrated. These feelings can lead to destructive behaviors as your dog tries to amuse themselves, or they may start licking.
You can help curb this boredom by giving your dog more stimulating toys, a longer period of play or exercise throughout the day, or consider a doggy daycare. Your dog will get to play with other dogs, and they’ll get exercise at the same time.
4. Deicing Salts
As the weather gets colder and brings rain or snow, people start to put out deicing salts to help melt the ice and keep walkways clear and safe. These salts may work great, but they can cause irritation to the bottom of your dog’s feet if they walk in them.
To avoid this, you can buy pet-friendly deicing salts that come with a special formula that doesn’t irritate your dog’s feet. Another possible suggestion is sweeping the salt away before your dog walks in it, or you could wipe your dog’s feet off each time they come in.
5. Dry Skin
Westies are prone to developing and having skin problems that can cause itching, flaking, and inflammation. Your dog may lick their feet if they’re experiencing these types of problems in an attempt to soothe them, and it can lead to obsessive licking.
The weather and your bathing habits for your dog also play a role in their skin health, and you can try asking your veterinarian for a lotion that you can rub into their paws each day. This lotion can help to alleviate the dry skin, and your dog should stop licking as a result.
6. Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are parasites that can cause an extreme level of itching in your dog, and it can get worse if your dog has an allergy to fleas. It can lead to licking, biting, and chewing at their feet as they try to get rid of the fleas or ticks and stop the itching.
You should treat your dog for ticks, and fleas with a veterinarian recommended a treatment plan, and don’t forget to treat your house as well. If your dog has an allergy to ticks or fleas, make sure that they’re not also allergic to the treatment because this could make the itching worse.
7. Hormonal Imbalances
There are two main hormonal imbalances that many dogs have that cause cause issues with their skin and coat. These include a condition where your dog’s body produces far too much cortisol (Cushing’s disease), or it doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones (Hypothyroidism).
These conditions can cause issues like balding and red spots, and dogs tend to lick these spots. If they do, it can cause a secondary infection, open sores, and pain that causes your dog to lick the area more to try and make it go away.
If you notice that your dog recently started licking their paws or one paw in particular, this is usually a good indication that they’re feeling some type of pain. Ideally, you should get your dog to the vet if you examine their paw and can’t find anything wrong, but they keep licking.
It could also mean that something is going on deeper in your dog’s foot or leg like a muscle sprain, inflammation, or swelling. Once your vet diagnosis it, they can prescribe a treatment plan.
9. Yeast Infection
Yeast infections are extremely common in dogs around their feet and ears, and it’s often accompanied by a particular odor that just won’t go away. People describe it as smelling like corn chips, and it’s due to an overgrowth of yeast. It’s relatively fast and easy to treat a yeast infection, and you can get prescription remedies as well as over the counter treatments for it.
If your Westie is licking its paws and you’re not sure why you may want to consider the nine options we outlined above. A veterinarian can help you pinpoint the cause of your dog’s excessive licking, and you can then start treating it to keep your dog happy and healthy.