If your Labrador has been licking its feet and paws a lot you might be wondering why and what you should do about it. This post will show you common reasons why they do it and what you can do about them.
So, why does my Labrador lick its feet and paws? Possible reasons are being bored, having something stuck in them, allergies, fleas, injury, separation anxiety or it could be a compulsive behavior.
Your Labrador could be doing it for many reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are a number of options you have.
Why your Labrador licks its feet and paws
Below are some common reasons why Labradors do it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason why yours has been doing it.
It has something in them
The reason might be because there is something stuck in its paws. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, it has been licking one paw in particular and if you can see there is something in there. In this case, it would likely be the best option to take it to a vet.
Allergies or a rash could also be causing your Labrador to lick its paws. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).
It would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that your Labrador started licking its paws often. For example, if it started doing it when you started using a new shampoo on it then it would likely have something to do with it.
The reason why it has been doing it might be that flees have been causing it to be itchy.
This would be more likely if it has been itching or biting itself in other areas as well and if you have found flees on it or around the house.
If fleas are causing your Labrador to lick, scratch and bite itself, it would help to talk to your vet about what you should do to get rid of the flees.
It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by doing things such as:
- Washing the bedding with hot soapy water
- Vacuuming the carpets and throwing the bad
- Applying an environmental flee control
- Applying a spray, pellet or non-toxic treatment for the yard
- Treating your Labrador with a monthly preventative
It could also be the case that it has been doing it compulsively. This is where it has an irresistible urge to lick its paws so it keeps doing it. This would be more likely if it has been licking its paws constantly for a few weeks now. In this case, the best option would be to get help from a vet.
Another possible cause is that it has gotten an injury. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being injured. In this case, the best option would be to get help from a vet.
Another possible reason is that it has been doing it due to being anxious. One reason why it might be anxious is that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like it when it is left alone and it becomes anxious when it is left alone.
Separation anxiety would be more likely to be the reason if it licks its paws more just before you normally leave home and if it starts getting anxious when you are about to leave.
In this case, it would help to avoid leaving it for extended periods and to periodically check up on it if possible.
Also, it would help to train it to be less anxious when you are leaving and when you are away.
To do this you could do as follows:
- Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
- Reward your Labrador for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
- Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
- Reward your Labrador for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
- Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your Labrador
- Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer
It’s not unusual for Labradors to lick their paws occasionally. If your Labrador has not been licking its paws constantly, it’s not losing fur and there is no sign of anything else being wrong it could just be that it is normal behavior and it is grooming itself.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when trying to figure out why your Labrador has been doing it.
It is normal for it to lick its paws or feet occasionally
If your Labrador only licks its feet or paws occasionally it would likely just be normal behavior. When it licks its paws the cause could be that it is just grooming itself or that it has something stuck to its paws.
Whereas, if your Labrador has been licking its paws or feet a lot or it has been doing it suddenly then it would be unusual behavior. In this case, it would help to take it to a vet.
When it does it
It would help to consider the timing of when your Labrador licks its feet or paws since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
If you notice that it tends to do it more when you are about to leave home it would make it more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it more when it has not gotten much exercise it might be due to boredom.
When it first started doing it
It would also help to consider if anything else happened when it started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it did start doing it suddenly it would make it more likely to be due to things such as allergies, fleas, injury or getting something stuck on them.
How to get your Labrador to stop licking its paws and feet
Below are a number of things you can do when getting your Labrador to stop licking its paws.
Check there is nothing stuck in its paws
Since your Labrador could be licking its paws due to having something stuck in them it would help to see whether or not there is anything stuck there. It would also help to check for fleas or a rash.
Take it to a vet
If you cannot figure out why it has been doing it, your Labrador has been doing it excessively or it has been showing signs of being injured, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to rule out medical causes and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador.
Give it exercise
If your Labrador is healthy, it would help to make sure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise. When they do not get enough exercise, they will often look for ways to stimulate themselves and it might be a part of the reason why yours has been licking its paws.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
It could be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it.
Instead of rewarding it when it does it try to reward it when it is being well behaved and to recognize when it is likely to start licking its paws and to redirect its focus onto something else.