Is your dog paying too much attention to his paws lately and not enough attention to you? Is she chewing and licking like crazy and it’s driving you crazy? If your dog’s paw-behavior has considerably changed then there may be cause for concern. So how much paw-attention is too much paw-attention?

*There may be an explanation for your dog’s paw-behavior. But if your dog’s paws are red, swollen, bleeding or if your dog is limping, call your veterinarian right away!

Here’s a list of reasons why your dog may be going paw-crazy:

1. Dry Skin

During seasonal changes, dogs get dry skin just like humans do. It’s not like they can whip out some hand cream and relieve their discomfort so their saliva does the job. However, you can help them feel much better by buying them paw balm at your local pet shop.

Dry skin can also be an indication that your dog isn’t getting enough fatty acids in her diet. Try adding some coconut oil or olive oil to their food. It’s a yummy treat and very good for them!

2. Allergies

Like humans, dogs can develop allergies to pollen, mold, cleaning products and some foods or food additives. For pollen and mold, we recommend keeping an air filter in your home. If you have a central air system then be sure to change the filter frequently. Using a vacuum with an allergy filter can help your dog as well.

If it’s food allergies, it’s often hard to determine exactly what the culprit is, especially if you feed your dog food with multiple ingredients. Speak with your vet about a special diet plan. Some elimination diets can reveal what’s been causing symptoms in your pup.

3. Injury

If your dog is nursing an injury, he will likely lick the affected area. Small abrasions on the pads are hard to see but can cause major discomfort. Your dog can even fracture a toe or nail if she has been active on rough terrain. Try your best to check the area and if it needs medical attention, do not wait! It can get infected!

4. Parasites

Creepy crawlers will almost always cause a (serious) itching sensation. Ticks, fleas, and mites can wreak havoc on your dog. Check their paws to make sure this isn’t the cause of their discomfort. If you aren’t using medications to prevent these critters, please consult your vet to start a medication regiment. Many areas that didn’t have a problem with ticks and fleas in the past are now reporting record numbers of pests.

5. Psychological Issues

Just like people, dogs have deep emotional feelings. They can experience anxiety and depression that can affect them physically. They may be self-soothing by licking their paws –but self-soothing is a temporary fix. If your dog spends too much time alone and is unhappy, consider some options that can address his issues. A dog walker that comes mid-day is a great distraction or consider asking a friend to drop by for some cuddles and a round of fetch.

If it’s possible your dog is bored and the lack of stimulation is what is triggering this behavior, consider changing up your schedule. Adding more walks, trips to the park and time in the yard can be a real game-changer for your beloved canine.

Your dog will naturally lick herself, it would be weird if she didn’t– but too much licking can cause a serious issue and should not be ignored. A small injury that leads to licking– can lead to a serious habit. Over-licking can cause a deeper wound called a lick granuloma, which can then become infected.

It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior, especially if they’re experiencing a change. A call to your vet is your best bet! Those licks are best saved for kisses!