Why Do Shih Tzu Lick Their Paws?


How many times have you look over at your dog and they're licking their paws and wondered why they do that?

At first, you might assume that perhaps her paws are dirty so she’s giving them a good wash, or maybe she’s treating herself to a puppy manicure.

However, you it becomes a concern become baffled when she doesn’t seem to ever stop!

Shih Tzu dog with its tongue out and paw extended

If your Shih Tzu spends a good chunk of her time licking her paws, then you might want to pay attention because the odds are good that she needs your help.

Dogs lick their paws for a variety of reasons, ranging from the simple (like cleaning) to the more serious, like anxiety or from pain or an injury.  If they're licking their paws non-stop, then the more likely scenario is that there is something bigger going on, and you need to take care of it.

Plus, if your dog continues to obsessively lick her paws, it can lead to some serious issues with her feet, so all the more reason to address the situation sooner rather than later.

You don’t have to panic if you have an obsessive paw licker on your hands, you just need to be aware that your dog’s constant licking is a clue to an underlying issue.

In other words, don’t ignore the situation and dismiss it as just a bad doggy habit.

Your Shih Tzu needs your help to fix whatever it is going on with her, and that may or may not mean a trip to the vet.

If your furry pal is licking her feet so much that she hardly pays attention to anything else, it’s time to get her some relief, pronto!

So, Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

There are a bunch of reasons why Shih Tzu lick their paws; some of these reasons are mild, while others are indicative of a more serious issue at work.

The reasons can be physical or psychological, and if left unaddressed constant paw-licking can lead to other issues like sores on the feet, or inflammation that is difficult to treat.

First, if your pup is just licking her paws occasionally, and she otherwise leads a normal puppy life, for example, she pays attention to you, other dogs, playtime, and other things that dogs enjoy, then you probably are good to go.

All dogs lick their paws as a regular part of their personal grooming habits; they like to keep their feet nice and clean. It’s the frantic, seemingly non-stop licking that you need to address as soon as possible.

There are a few things to take note of in regards to your dog’s licking habits.

First, is she only licking one of her paws?

If so, then the most likely scenario is there is something physically bothering her about that paw, perhaps there is something in it, or she has suffered an injury of some kind.

However, if your dog is licking more than one paw, then this usually points to an underlying issue. 

Here are several reasons why a dog may constantly lick its paws:

  • Allergies
  • Infection
  • Boredom
  • Anxiety
  • Pests, like fleas or ticks
  • Dry Skin
  • Irritation from Outside Factors (like chemicals on the ground, ice, burs, etc.)
  • GI Issues

What Should You Do If Your Dog Always Licks His Paws?

It’s important to realize that you most likely won’t be able to tell the cause of your pet’s licking habit just by looking at him.

If your dog is just licking one paw, you can examine the paw gently to see if you can spot any type of injury, or perhaps something stuck between the pads of his foot, like a bur or ice ball (if it’s winter and you live in a cold environment).

If you can spot the offending invader, you can carefully remove it with a pair of tweezers and clean the area.

However, if the item is too embedded in your dog’s paw, or you can’t see any visible sign of injury, you need to bring your dog to the vet, especially if your pooch has a limp to go with her licking.

For more chronic licking of all the paws, it could be any one of the above-listed issues.

Your pup could have an allergy to something that he is regularly walking on, perhaps a certain pesticide or chemical that is in your grass, or he could have fleas, or there’s something more serious at play.

Here’s what to do if you notice your Shih Tzu is continually licking her paws:

Look for patterns in your pup’s licking habits

If you notice it happens after a walk or spending time outside, use a pet wipe to clean his paws immediately after the walk.

If the licking stops, then you probably resolved the issue. If it seems to happen after grooming, your pet could have an allergy to the shampoo or any of the other cleaning products that are being used on his skin.

Consult with your vet about potential allergies to foods or medications

Your vet can run an allergy test to pinpoint which foods your pup is allergic to.

Then you can discuss alternative food options with your vet.

If your dog is on medication, this could also be causing an allergic reaction, and your vet can determine if a switch needs to be made.

Keep your pup’s personal items clean

Things like food and water bowls, pet bedding and toys can all cause allergic reactions in your pet.

Dust mites on blankets and pillows can cause irritation so wash them frequently in hot water, and some dogs have issues with rubber or plastic bowls, so simply switch to a stainless steel option.

Provide adequate stimulation and attention for your pup

She could be licking out of boredom or anxiety and trying to self-soothe.

Remember, too much licking can cause raw skin, inflammation, and wounds, so it’s important to address it quickly no matter what the cause.

Give your dog has something to do if you are going to be gone for a long period of time, such as a Kong filled with peanut butter or even treat-dispensing puzzle games.

Ensure that your pup gets enough exercise and playtime to help her expend some energy, take her for regular walks, and when she is home alone play soft, classical music.

Some dogs even respond well to diffusers that give off calming scents like lavender.

Take care of your pup’s skin

Dry skin is very irritating, making your dog scratch and lick which can cause sores, especially when the weather is dry.

Avoid excessive bathing, which can dry out the skin, and if your dog is prone to itchy skin, try an oatmeal shampoo at bath time, and use a lotion or oil that is safe for dogs.

You can also consult with your vet about supplements that may help relieve dryness.

Get your pup on flea-prevention medicine

Most of them defend against ticks as well.

Not only is regular flea-prevention a good idea for your pup, but it’s also a great idea for you and your house too.

When in doubt, talk with your vet

Constant licking can be a clue to an underlying health issue, such as gastrointestinal problems.

These are issues that only a consultation with a health professional and testing can discover.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if you notice your Shih Tzu is constantly licking her paws, don’t ignore it.

If anything, your vet can assist you in getting your poor pup some relief from whatever it is that is bothering her.

Once your dog is done with the licking, she’ll have more time for the important things in life, like chasing squirrels or cuddling with you on the couch.

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