When you’re trying to drift off to sleep, there’s nothing more annoying than having to listen to your dog lick their paws for hours on end.
Dog owners who share their bedroom with their pets will know how irritating it can be to be woken up by your dog aggressively licking their front and back paws.
But according to the Kennel Club, they’re likely only doing it to help themselves relax or relieve boredom – as they wait for you to wake up for the day.
However, very sudden or focused paw licking could act as a warning sign to owners, letting them know something is wrong with their pup.
A Kennel Club statement reads: “As with other dog behaviours, there can be several reasons that lead dogs to lick or chew their paws. These include injuries; skin problems; environmental, parasite, or food allergies; and boredom or anxiety.
“Occasional paw licking is normal for dogs as a part of their self-grooming process, especially when they come inside after walking on dirty or sandy ground. But if your dog frequently and intensely licks his paws, you can assume that something is wrong.”
When a dog suddenly starts licking their paws more than usual, owners have been urged to examine them to make sure they don’t have injuries such as a cut, torn nail or a stone, thorn or ice ball stuck between their pads.
“Your dog may have irritated his paw by stepping on something sharp, walking on salted or hot sidewalks, being stung by a bee, or getting a blister,” the statement adds.
“Some of these problems can be relieved by a simple first aid treatment, while others might require treatment by a veterinarian.”
However, owners who have ruled out may want to visit their a vet to check their dog is not suffering with another issue- such as dermatitis, parasites or food allergies.
The statement reads: “It’s important to recognize that licking behaviour can be indicative of a health problem or may become harmful to the dog. You should work with your veterinarian to determine the cause and find an appropriate solution.
“Don’t wait too long to do this, because the moisture of constant foot licking can cause a secondary bacterial or yeast infection – causing even more itching, redness, swelling, and licking.
“Meanwhile, depending on the underlying cause of the problem, the veterinarian may relieve your dog’s itching by prescribing topical anti-itch sprays, steroids to reduce inflammation, antibiotics for a bacterial infection, or antifungals for yeast infections.
“The sooner you can address the problem and illuminate the cause, the better.”
If you’re ever concerned about your pet’s behaviour, do not hesitate to contact your vet for advice.