lip smackin’ allergies?

Mr. Ears has a real affinity for licking his paws. We noticed a few weeks ago that everywhere he lays, he leaves a suspicious little wet puddle. Fearing the worst, we dutifully put our noses to the wetness, cringing, only to find that it smelled like nothing. Whew.

But the longer he lives with us, the more we notice that when he lays down he is often not laying down just to hang out, but rather, he is hunkering down to diligently lick at his paw. He doesn’t seem to have any cuts, any irritation, any peanut butter stuck between his toes . . . what could it be?

I thought I remembered reading somewhere that paw licking may be a sign of itching, which can be caused by allergies. On the other hand, it seems like it could just be one of his little behaviors. Any thoughts? Anybody have experience with compulsive paw-licking?

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

21 responses

  1. Quizz does the same thing. He has the cleanest paws around. They don’t seem to be worst for wear. He seems to be just fastidious about his paw care. Of course, he could be cleaning away the evidence of the large holes that are mysteriously appearing in the mulch in his hunt for chipmunks. Hmmm.

  2. Paw licking can mean allergies. If Mr. Bunny Ears does truly have AmStaff in his lineage, I can tell you that they are prone to allergies, especially when white. I’ve learned this from my Anna 🙂

  3. I would agree about it being allergies. White and red dogs are more prone to them right off the bat. If he is leaving puddles and wet spots around the house he obviously is doing it quite a bit which with how calm/balanced he seems overall I think is more out of necessity and not boredom or OCD. Our labs grandfather does the same thing, as well as some labs that come in for boarding/daycare. If you don’t mind me asking what food do you feed? I had them switch to Great Life (what I feed) and it has decreased the labs licking and scratching by over 50%.

    My vizsla is a very clean dog, she will lick the tops of her feet where the dew claws would be, but hardly ever the pads and toes.. and of course other areas of her body, but she never has left wet spots from it. So it should not take that much for him to get himself clean if that’s indeed what he’s doing.

    Just my opinion of course. good luck, allergies can be a pain.

  4. basil licks his feet often. he never scratches or has any red/irritated spots so i sort of attributed it to anxiety. i guess it could be allergies though? especially reading the comments above about white dogs. if a dog is already on a high quality food, what do you do to treat allergies? i hate the thought of medicine just for some paw licking!

    good luck! (and nice rug!)

  5. I’ve actually read a few a books & articles that describe this behavior as a form of OCD. Of course it depends on the extent and frequency of the paw licking. In extreme cases they can actually injure themselves eventually. Is this something he’s done since coming to live with you?

  6. My coonhound-cross did that for years, but she also got into biting between her toes. Allergies were the diagnosis and as I recall the vet prescribed some pills and a salve which helped a great deal.

  7. Turk does this, too. He even does this thing where he sticks his back paws in his ears, scratches, and then chews on that paw. So gross! I always just attributed it to bad manners. Now I worry he had allergies! Yikes!

  8. Maisie licks her paws and her rear end incessantly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve plopped down on the couch without looking first, only to find myself sitting in a wet spot. she’s the same way in my bed. I guess it could be allergies, I always think of it more as OCD though. she also loves licking people…their faces, feet, socks, pants, etc.

  9. Yup, I’d bet allergies. My first dog did this and it was a grass allergy. A little benadryl and it stopped right away! It could also be a food allergy if you notice that he’s been doing before the spring weather hit.

  10. Havi does this too, and it never really worried me. Although its a little gross. My mother told me her vet told her it was a form of OCD and could mean they’re nauseous. I never ran this by my vet because it never seemed like a big deal to me. Does Gonzo have any red spots or itch anywhere else? If not, I wouldnt worry either.

  11. Allergies are kind of our *thing*. Our poor Felix was an allergic mess when we got him and we have done extensive research on allergies, how to determine what the allergy is, and how to best address it without resorting to antihistimine drugs or steriods, as these are terribly hard on the liver and kidneys. I’m happy to chat with you about any other symptoms he might have to try to determine if an allergy could be at fault here. White dogs are more prone to allergies, though with rescue dogs, there is also the possibility of an old untreated infected claw or discomfort from a time when claws were left too long being at the heart of it, as well as a compulsive licking issue. I usually have about 1000 questions for my clients when we try to nail down the cause of the itchies, so maybe if you are interested, drop me an e-mail at kolchakpuggle (at) and I am happy to go through the steps with you – depending on the allergy there is a TON you can do to help from special bath products to changing foods to supplements that help relieve inflammation. Poor itchy boy – the itchies suck!

  12. My pup also licks her feet a bit obsessively in the summertime. I think it’s allergies also… Good luck!

  13. I forgot to mention one other thing that can often be the cause of obsessive foot-licking – If you have a pup who wears a *collar* prone to pulling the leash or you give strong leash correction, there is a possibility of a neck injury. Many dogs who lick at their feet without any symptoms of a true allergy simply have an injured neck. Switching to a harness and considering a canine chiropractic visit can sometimes completely correct or largely eliminate the problem – and relieve a lot of discomfort in your pet.

  14. Often allergies are blamed for a systemic yeast infection. If your pup’s paws/coat/ears smell, it could be the yeast. Our golden got a lot of relief from Nzymes suppliments:

    She used to lick like crazy, and she got hotspots b/c she licked her hiney raw and it scabbed over. VERY sad. We’ve had a lot of luck with the Nyzmes and she’s improved. Hope that helps!

    P.s. I LOVE what you are doing for shelter dogs. Thank you!!

  15. I’m really behind on commenting, but wanted to chime in here. We’ve noticed the same thing with Neptune. We are not sure if the licking is due to allergies or boredom/mild separation anxiety because he only does it while we are gone. But since he has an itchy face too, I think it’s probably allergies. We started him on a grain-free diet as a first step, though I suspect the culprit is environmental. Our vet said we can give him Benadryl, but we keep forgetting to do it on the weekend when we are home and can monitor his reaction. Dr. Google told me atopic dermatitis might be behind the itchiness and according to my non-scientific poll on Facebook, it sounds extremely hard to treat and only gets worse over time:(

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