Have you ever wondered why Bulldogs, or any other type of breed for that matter, lick their paws? This is a common dog behavior that many pet owners come across but don’t know how to interpret. Should they be concerned or not? Paw licking, sucking, and biting can be the result of many different things. To put it briefly, you should always consult with your veterinary provider if your Bulldog displays signs of excessive paw licking. Although most dogs engage in this behavior occasionally, the situation can lead to serious consequences including infections and permanent hair loss. Here’s what you need to know…
The Root of the Behavior
Paw licking is a behavior that affects all breeds but is usually more prevalent in American Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, American Bulldogs, English Bulldogs and Pit Bulls. These breeds are known for having the most skin problems and are more prone to developing a sudden need to lick and chew their feet. There are a variety of reasons why your dog would suddenly display such behavior, including puncture wounds to the toes or paw pads, fractured claws or toes, burns, corns (especially in Greyhounds), or even tumors and autoimmune diseases of the nail beds or paw pads. Pododermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease of the paw that affects English and French bulldog puppies and adults, with many underlying skin diseases.
Take a closer look at your dog’s paws to identify the real issue and look for signs of redness and swelling, discharge, such as pus emitting from the lesions, as well as scabs, blisters, nodules, and hair loss, which can be found in the surrounding tissue of the infected area. Other underlying issues include food allergies or yeast infections, which can easily be mistaken for allergies and commonly affect a dog’s ears and feet (although they are not restricted to just these areas). Make sure you rule out open cuts, injury, or broken bones as well. A psychological factor may be involved if there is no sign of injury and your pup is only licking a single paw. This could mean that he may be addicted to the sensation he gets from licking, due to the high endorphin levels produced by the brain during the behavior. Licking can be very calming particularly for a nervy dog, so he may be licking out of anxiety. The bottom line is, if you notice that your dog is licking or chewing his paws, you need to take action.
Encouraging the Behavior
The best way to identify and prevent the cause of the behavior is through a process of elimination. First of all, excessive licking of the paws is something that needs to be addressed by the vet so don’t hesitate to pay him or her a visit as soon as you can. You can look for items such as burrs, small stones, or sticks if you think foreign objects are the issue and examine his paws for any redness or swollen areas in between. If he is simply doing it out of boredom, you need to find activities for your dog to do.
Consider taking him out for longer walks, interacting with him, and giving him more attention in general. You may just find that giving your dog something better to do will end this habit altogether. If anxiety is the underlying issue, you need to learn how to soothe your pup’s nervousness. For instance, you can turn on the TV or radio when you leave the house so he doesn’t feel completely alone. Watch out for pesticides in your yard or garden, which can often irritate your dog’s feet, causing serious allergies and reactions. In this case, try to use minimal pesticides in the areas your dogs has access to.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you’re fan of homeopathy and would like to treat your Bulldog’s paw licking and sucking habit with some herbal treatments, you can do so by using green tea or sage tea soaks. Green tea is great for relieving your dog’s skin irritation and prevent swelling. To prepare your tea, simply boil a cup of water, allow it to cool and soak or wash your dog’s feet with the remedy. Sage is an antiperspirant so it will reduce the wetness, swelling, bacteria and itching of your dog’s paws. Make sure to pat dry your pup’s feet afterwards and beware of green tea stains on the carpet as well.
No matter what the cause for your dog’s paw licking and chewing habit is, you need to consult with your vet when coming up with a solution. Apart from the medical prescription, you can also try herbal or psychological methods to help relieve his condition, as well as dietary changes if he’s dealing with food allergies. Remember, occasional licking is ok, but if it’s constant and causing symptoms such as the ones mentioned earlier, pay your vet a visit as soon as possible.