What Causes Itchy Dog Paws?
Dogs, like people, itch or scratch themselves from time to time. Most times this is normal behavior. You may find yourself wondering if your dog is itchy? Does your dog seem to be biting, licking, and chewing on her or his paws a lot? Do you ever wonder what’s causing the paws to itch so much? Itchy dog paws are a common problem, and it’s important to figure out the underlying cause so you can help relieve your dog’s discomfort.
In the article below, you’ll find a list of some of the most likely causes of itchy paws in dogs. You can use this information to help narrow down the potential problem for your pet.
6 Causes of Itchy Dog Paws
Itchy dog paws can be caused by a variety of different things. It’s important to know the underlying cause so you can make sure your pet gets the proper care they need to help. No matter the reason, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to make sure you know the actual cause of this behavior.
Below are some common causes of itchy dog paws:
Contact allergies can cause acute itching of a dog’s paws. Just like a human who touches something they are allergic to and then gets itchy, dogs can do the same thing. If your dog is allergic to pollen and goes for a walk outside in the grass, for example, he or she may pick up pollen on the paws and develop an itch by the time she or he comes back indoors.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of this type of itching is to wipe down your dog’s feet and legs when returning in from being outside, especially during times of high pollen.
Food allergies are also a common causes of itching skin in dogs. Although food allergies cause itching of the whole body and not just the paws, this problem can also contribute to itching paws, feet, and legs in dogs.
Dogs who have food allergies may have a dull coat, flaky skin, or hives. They are likely to look a little bit drab and may also have some patches of hair loss, depending on the severity of the food allergy.
Try switching your dog to a higher-quality food with better ingredients, and try switching the main type of protein used in the diet as well. Most food allergies are diagnosed with guidance from your vet.
Anxiety can sometimes lead to chewing and licking of feet and paws in dogs. This habit is not really related to itching, but is instead a bored or nervous habit, similar to a human biting their fingernails. If your dog has an obsessive chewing or licking issue, there may be anxiety or other behavior concerns.
Dogs who are anxious enough to chew their paws frequently may need to take an anti-anxiety medication. They may also benefit from training and assistance with separation anxiety, as this is often the culprit when it comes to nervous chewing habits in dogs.
Fleas and Ticks
Another common cause of itchy dog paws can be fleas and/or ticks. Fleas and ticks may cause extreme itchiness on a dog’s body. You may be able to see ticks if they are buried up on a dog’s paws or legs, and this can tell you why your pet is so itchy. However, if your dog has fleas, they may not be as readily visible, especially if your dog has dark fur already.
Fleas affect the dog’s whole body, while ticks only cause itching in localized spots. Either problem, however, can be treated with a flea and tick bath and with a topical or oral preventative.
Dry skin is just as common in dogs as it is in humans. Although some types of dry skin can have causes related to health problems and illnesses, other types may be caused simply by dry air. During the colder months, when the heat is running in your home more often, dogs are more likely to deal with dry skin.
Dry skin can occur anywhere on a dog’s body and not just on the paws and legs. However, the paws and legs are likely to have dry skin because they come into contact with cold and dry air more often than other parts of the dog’s body, especially on long-haired dogs.
Some thyroid problems can cause hormonal imbalances, which in turn lead to itchiness. Skin itchiness that is caused by thyroid problems is not specific only to a dog’s feet and paws, but the dog may be more likely to lick and chew these areas because these areas can be reached most easily.
If your dog has a thyroid issue, your veterinarian will help you determine the right course of action for treatment or management. Some dogs will be fine with medication, while others may need surgery depending on the underlying cause of the thyroid problem.
It’s Important to Find the Underlying Cause of Itchy Dog Paws
As you can see, there are a lot of causes that can contribute to your dog’s itchy paws. Each potential cause has a different type of treatment, so it’s important to work with your vet to figure out the problem and get your pet on the right track to recovery as soon as possible, too.
When you help your dog’s itchy paws, you’re also helping reduce the risk of hot spots. Since hot spots can occur from dogs obsessively licking their paws, your dog will be much more capable of avoiding this problem when he isn’t prone to chewing so much.
For more information about itchy dog paws, or if you’re not sure what’s causing this behavior in your dog, book an appointment with our team at Heart + Paw today. This behavior can be caused by something that’s causing your dog discomfort and can lead to additional health problems if not taken care of right away. Your pet’s health and comfort are our top priorities, so don’t hesitate to contact our team at any of our locations.
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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.
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