Why is My Lab Licking and Biting His Paws?

Some habits of Labrador seem ok from outside. But when they do it reluctantly, it could be a sign of trouble. One of these habits is licking and biting his paw. It is quite normal for every dog to lick its paw once in a while. However, it is not a common behaviour of Labrador to lick his paw multiple times a day. It could be a sign of trouble when they do it frequently and reluctantly. The owner needs to investigate the reason behind this sudden behavioural change in the dog and needs to take the right action to change it.

When Should I Worry About My Dog Licking and Biting Paws?

Many people think that the dog licking his paw is a bad habit. However, the reality is that it is the only way dogs able to clean their feet. Unlike a human, who cleans his hands with water the dog cleans his paw with its tongue. However, when the dog does this reluctantly, it means that the dog is having some problems in the paw. It is the time the owner needs to be worried. There could be multiple reasons behind it. The owner of the Labrador needs to examine and rectify every possible cause behind licking and biting paws.

Possible primary reasons behind Licking and Biting Paws

There is a theory that dogs do not do anything without any reason. Behind their every activity there has to be a solid reason. This theory is similarly applicable in this sudden behavioural change. The Labrador licking and biting paws reluctantly mean it is having some problem with it and the dogs want to cure it by licking it. However, licking does not solve any problem. Instead, it only enhances it. Here are some possible reasons behind this licking and biting habit.

  • Dirt and Debris
    The first thing the Labrador owner required to do is dog’s feet and check whether any dirt or debris stuck to the paw or not. It often happens that small dirt and debris get stuck in-between dog’s paw and cause lots of irritation. They often try to remove this debris by licking it. If these dirt particles are sticky, then the dog might get fixated to remove it by licking. In such a case, clean the paw with warm water.
  • Pain
    The first possible reason, why the dog is licking and biting its paw could be the sensation of pain. Any kind of pain can irritate and bother the dog. The dog might be licking the area of pain in hope of soothing sensation. The licking gives the Labrador some momentary relief from pain, but it does not do anything more than that. For long-term pain relief, the dog requires medical help, which only the dog’s owner can provide.
  • Injury
    Injuries are the most possible reason behind every possible pain. Therefore, the Labrador owner must check whether the paw of the dog is injured or not. Try to find any cut, bruise, or swelling around the paw. If it is a physical injury, then there will be some mark of it. If the dog finds it difficult to walk, then it could mean the level of injury is severe and it needs medical attention.
  • Broken Claws
    Just like a human nail, the claws of the dogs also grow. If not trimmed on time, it can break apart. The dog’s claw is much more sensitive than human’s. There are a lot of nerves and blood vessels remain around it. The broken claw can cause an enormous amount of pain to the dog’s paw. The dog might be licking the area to soothe the pain. In such a case, trim the excess claws of the dog and keep it in the house.
  • Insect bite
    There are many insects present in the wild, which contains toxic venom. Even though the venom is not deadly, but it can cause lots of itching. It is very much possible when the dog goes outside to play, some insects might have bitten in its paw. Most incest bitten marks develop into a reddish spot. If any such marks come to notice near the paw then treat it with antiseptic cream.
  • Bacterial infection
    If the dog often goes to a dirty area, then it can catch a bacterial infection in its paw. These infections slowly eat flesh and cause severe pain and itching. If not treated in time, over the period this infection only grows in size and severity. Therefore, start its treatment as early as possible. Regularly wash the area with Luke warm water and apply anti-bacterial ointment on the infected paw.
  • Fungal infection
    Just like a bacterial infection, a fungal infection can also cause severe itching to the dog’s paw. Most of the fungal infection comes from mud and rotten leaves. But unlike bacterial infection, the fungal infection cause black mark around the paw. This mark slowly grows and causes lots of itching and burning sensation.
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Possible secondary reasons behind Licking and Biting Paws

The above-mentioned primary reasons are the obvious causes of why some Labradors lick and bite their paw. Besides these primary reasons, a Labrador can still lick and bite its paw. From outside it appears that the dog and its paw are fine and it is doing out of habit. But the reality is that the dog is doing this strange behaviour due to possible secondary reasons. Here are some secondary reasons, when a perfectly fine looking Labrador licks and bite his paw.

  • Anxiety
    Most Labradors are very sensitive to outside influence. Any kind of disturbance in their habitation puts lots of stress on them. As a result, these dogs get anxious quickly. Sometimes long journeys and new environments put enormous fatigue on these dogs. To alleviate their stress these dogs often start licking and biting their paw reluctantly. In such a situation, take the dog for a little walk and reduce its stress level.
  • Boredom
    All Labradors are a very energetic breed of dog. They don’t like to live in captivity. These dogs at least need a couple of hours of activity time. Otherwise, these dogs get bored quickly and start licking and biting their paws. The solution to this problem is quite easy. Just spend a couple of hours playing with the dog. It will alleviate boredom and makes the dog happy.
  • Allergic food
    Some Labradors are quite sensitive to high protein bases diets. Excessive meat and fish-based diet some time cause an allergic reaction to the dog. However, an allergic reaction to the dog’s paw is not very common. It only happens occasionally. If any Labrador suffers from food allergies then alternate its protein-based diet to a carbohydrate-based diet.
  • Hormone imbalance
    Sometimes hormone imbalances can also encourage this type of erratic behaviour in Labradors. As the Labrador gets old, its body starts producing less hormone levels. Due to this reason, some old Labradors do this kind of behaviour. However, it is only happening in older Labradors. A young Labrador rarely suffers from any hormone imbalance or similar disorders.
  • Dry skin
    Dead and dry skin flakes are one of the possible secondary reasons why some Labradors lick their paws. Giving the Labrador too many baths can wash off the oil from its coat. It makes the upper surface of the skin dry. This upper layer of skin sheds more dead skin cells. These dead skin cells can accumulate in the dog’s paw and irritate. The might be licking their paw because it might want to get rid of these dead accumulated skin cells. If the dog is suffering from dry skin, then It is advised to change the shampoo and conditioner.
  • Fleas or ticks
    The most unwanted inhabitant in a dog’s body is fleas or ticks. These microbial germs always irritate the dog. These germs can make small colonies in the dog’s paw and irritate it from there. These microbial germs are very small in size and remain invisible to eyes. In the case of Fleas or ticks infestation, wash the dog regularly with anti-fleas shampoo.

How to take care of your Labrador’s paws

Labrador is a smart dog. It does not do anything without a reason. Therefore, some preventive steps from the owner can save the dog’s paw from all of these hassles. Here are some tips which will keep the dog’s paw healthy and prevent a bad case of paw injuries in advance.

  • Clean the paws
    Every week clean the paws with a soft brush. Remove all dirt and debris from the corners of the paws. The chances of infection are much less in clean claws. The dog will remain happy and it won’t lick or bite the paws again.
  • Trim claws
    The nails of the Labrador grow pretty quickly. Therefore, these nails require regular trimming. Every week at the time of grooming check the nails and trim them if necessary.
  • Avoid hard surface
    Don’t let the dog run or play on hard surfaces like concrete. The rough surface of concrete erodes the bottom of the dog’s paw. It put lots of strain on the dog’s feet. Crack forms under the dog’s paw if it runs regularly on hard surfaces.
  • Avoid hot surface
    In hot summer days, paved surfaces become blisteringly hot under the sun. During this time letting the dog walking on this surface can be dangerous. The hot surface can put blisters on the dog’s paw. It can be a very painful experience for a Labrador.
  • Avoid Mud
    Many people don’t know that mud is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. These microbial can cause a deep infection in the dog’s paw. Therefore, in the rainy season keep the dog inside and wash its feet thoroughly when it gets back from outside.
  • Moisturize the paw
    Applying moisturizer to a dog’s paw can keep it healthy and fresh. Regular application of moisturizer prevents dryness in the skin. In dry weather, moisturizer application can prevent crack formation under the dog’s paw. It reduces dead skin formation and also reduces itching.
  • Avoid allergic foods
    The owner of Labrador needs to know, which food is good for the dog and which are not. If the dog is allergic to any certain kind of food, then avoid serving it to the dog. Give the dog a balanced diet for a healthy life.
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When do you need to take the Labrador to a veterinary for Licking and Biting His Paws?

Some time a Labrador lick and bite its paw out of habit. A previous injury to the leg may have encouraged the dog to lick and bite its paw. The habit of licking and biting could have formed at this time. Later the dog might have liked this activity and keep doing it since that time. Continually licking and biting his paw is bad behaviour and the owner needs to implement strict discipline to change this habit. In such a situation, contact a veterinary or a professional dog trainer for advice.

Conclusion

The Labrador is a very sophisticated dog. It needs proper love and care from the owner. Even though it has an agile and strong body, but its paws are quite subtle. For this reason, the dog takes extra care of its paw by licking it. Its paws can get easily injured in rough conditions. Dirt, debris, and mud can easily cause bacterial and fungal infection to the paws.

The owner of the Labrador needs to take immediate steps if he noticed the dog licking and biting it paw. The first step will be to clean the paw thoroughly and inspect it properly. Take proper medical approach is a wound, bite mark, or infection come to notice. Otherwise, investigate thoroughly for the appropriate reason. It will be much easier to change this habit of the dog when the appropriate reason comes out. The owner needs to understand that the dog doing this out of instinct. Therefore, don’t punish the dog for this behaviour.