Stick to Meds for Dog Licking Paws

Dog licking paws to soothe irritation can turn into obsessive behavior for some dogs.


Q. I noticed my 5-year-old Weimaraner licking his front paw where the nail meets the skin. He eventually stopped, but that night he licked all of his paws non-stop by the looks of them. They look like they have been burnt with his back paws worse than his front. He’s been treated, but now must wear an E-collar which he hates. Now he’s limping on the paw that’s in the worse condition. He’s never had skin problems or allergies, though he may have come into contact with harmful chemicals while on our walks. The webs of his paws are varying shades of red, and he has some lesions which are turning black.
A. It sounds like your Weimaraner has developed some dermatitis on his toes. Dermatitis indicates redness and inflammation, and could be caused by infection, inflammation from allergies, contact with a toxin, or self-trauma due to a behavioral problem.
Weimaraners are well-known for their predilection for compulsive behavior. Although your dog has not shown any evidence of obsessive-compulsive type of behavior up to this point, it is not unusual that something might set him off. Any kind of irritant or allergic reaction may have set off the initial licking behavior, and then a cycle of irritation and licking begins. The more he licks, the more irritated the skin becomes, so the more he licks.
I would recommend continuing on the medication that your veterinarian has recommended, and consider switching from the plastic cone to a newer generation of soft collars. These newer collars are flexible and will not bother you or your dog nearly as much as the shin-banging, table-clearing plastic Elizabethan collar. If you are worried that he is in pain, ask your veterinarian about Tramadol, a mild opioid-based pain killer.
It is important to use the collar for as long as necessary – possibly several months – to help break the cycle of licking and itching. If your dog has truly developed an obsessive-compulsive type of behavior, anti-psychotic drugs such as Prozac or Xanax may be helpful (for your dog, not you).


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mark9   austin, TX

10/15/2015 8:22:37 AM

We tried the paw sprays, antibiotic ointment, and numerous other gels, sprays, ointments to no avail. My large Weimaraner has been licking his front legs and paws for years. The vet checked for allergies, none. The veterinarian sold vet wrap and antibiotics that we used for years but it never stopped the licking issue and pulling the hair out. We rinsed the legs and paws in iodine solution daily which helped but never stopped the obsessive licking. He even tried to sell Xanax and Prozac but my dog Wally is not crazy, just chronic licking. We did buy the tramadol from the vet but that didn't work either so we stopped using the tramadol after a month.

We went to another veterinarian a few months ago who just got in these Posh lick protectors for dogs with chronic licking issues. These actually work and super fast to use. The tag on the posh lick protectors has if you need to find them. I wish we had found these first as it would have saved a lot of time and aggravation and Wally's legs have healed and the hair has grown back.

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Leslie - 233329   Lakeside, AZ

5/20/2013 8:10:49 PM

Good information. thanks

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lisa   phoenix, AZ

11/25/2009 10:30:29 AM

We use Natural Paws products on our dog and it's stopped her from her paw licking and chewing behaviour. I highly recommend their paw sprays if you're looking for a natural remedy rather than meds.

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Linda   Mandeville, LA

12/2/2008 10:59:49 PM

Good article.

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