Golden Retriever Licking Paws – the Golden Habit!

Dogs generally have lots of behaviors and some of them tend to be normal. Yet, the others could be their way to communicate with us. You may see those pooches lying on the floor, rubbing their nose, and laying on your lap. Sometimes, these behaviors have meanings, but what about Golden Retriever licking paws? What does it mean and what are they trying to tell us through it?

Most often than not, we tend to ignore such behavior of our doggo. But, is there something else that we should worry about? In this blog post, let us try to discover what Golden Retriever means when they are licking their paws.

Reasons for Golden Retriever Licking Paws

Dogs’ behaviors may mean a thing and the Golden Retriever licking paws may be due to several reasons. Below are the common and possible causes of the licking behavior of the Golden Retriever.

1-Grooming

When you see Golden Retriever licking paws, it is actually normal and that he just might be grooming itself. After a walk or roaming around in the yard, the Goldens are more likely to sit and lick paws. Well, you will generally notice this grooming behavior because the dog will lick on all his paws and not just only on one paw. This is such a natural behavior of dogs.

2-Something in it

Golden Retriever licking paws

Another thing that might be the cause of Golden Retriever licking paws is that there is something that stuck in your Goldens paws. This is most likely true if, all of a sudden, the Golden Retriever started licking right away. When there is something stuck in his paws, the licking could have only been in one particular paw only. And, in case you can able to see that there is something in it, immediately take your Goldens to the vet.

3-Allergies

Basically, allergies could be suspected as the cause of Golden Retriever licking behavior. In case the licking is chronic, that might generally come from anything around that can trigger an allergic reaction to the Goldens. Possible allergens can come from food, household cleaning products, medicines, grass, chemicals in the yard, and many more.

Once you notice that your pooch is licking his paws after walking, he might probably step over pesticides in the grass or there is a particular weed in it. In order to alleviate the licking because of this reason, try to clean the feet of your Golden Retriever by using a wet wipe after walking. This will also help in preventing the occurrence of possible irritation.

Allergies might be the most challenging issues behind the licking of paws of the Golden Retriever. There are too many possible causes of allergy of dogs and it will generally take you much time in figuring out what your dog is allergic to. Generally, the best way of addressing this allergy problem in dogs is to let the vet conduct a blood test to determine the causative agent of allergy, This is actually safer than giving antihistamines right away.

Here are the common causes of dog allergies and the appropriate remedies that you can employ on each one:

FOOD ALLERGY

The ingredients of dog foods like corn, soy, wheat, chicken, beef, and pork may generally trigger allergic reactions to dogs. Artificial additives can also be a factor in dog allergy. To address this, let the veterinarian conduct a food allergy test. Along with it, consider feeding your dog an all-natural diet and keep away from feeding your Fido with cheap commercial dog foods.

GRASS, WEEDS, MOLDS, AND POLLENS

Frequent washing of the food and water bowl of your Goldens is actually a big help in dealing with dog allergies due to this reason. Moreover, it is highly advisable to restrict your Golden Retriever from going outside the yard during the high-pollen season. In case you just cut the lawn, don’t allow your dog to roam in the yard as well. Wipe your dog’s paws using wet wipes after the walks to get rid of those allergens from the grass and weeds.

DUST MITES

The best thing to do to address your dog’s allergy caused by dust mites is by vacuuming often and limiting your Goldens to lie over non-carpeted flooring. Washing the bedding of your dog on a weekly basis and changing the furnace as well as the filters of the air-conditioning is actually a big help.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

If you think that the medications of your dog are the cause of their licking paws behavior due to allergy, better to talk to the veterinarian. Prescribing another brand is the next best option for them to do.

HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS OR DOG SHAMPOO

Well, do not use these products if you think these trigger the allergy of your dog.

RUBBER OR PLASTIC FOOD BOWLS

Consider changing your Goldens food and water bowls into those that use glass or stainless steel as materials.

4-Parasites

Fleas and mange are the most common causative agents of parasite infections in dogs. In case you Goldens have this infection, most probably, their paws get very itchy making them licking into it. Aside from licking the paws, the Goldens might also scratch or bite itself if there is a parasite infection. Talk to the veterinarian immediately and try to discuss the things that can help in getting rid of fleas.

Moreover, eradicating the fleas inside your home may be of big help. It can be achievable by doing the following:

  • Wash all the beddings with hot water and soap
  • Vacuum the carpet frequently
  • Apply flea control over the area
  • Use spray, pellet, or other form of non-toxic parasite treatment in the yard
  • Manage the Goldens with monthly preventative parasite treatment

5-Pain

The Golden Retriever is a dog breed that is highly susceptible to acquiring arthritis. Having this condition might lead him in experiencing pain. Other foot or leg conditions of the dog may also trigger them to experience pain. And once they feel it, the Golden Retriever might be licking his paws.

If the pain comes from anywhere else in the dog’s body, the Golden Retriever may try to address it by continuously licking on its front paw. Diagnosis and treatment by the veterinarian are highly recommended here.

6-Secondary Infection

Determining the Golden Retriever licking paws behavior is highly crucial as it could indicate a serious health problem of the dog. Discussing this issue with the veterinarian works well in pointing out the cause and finding the appropriate solution. Do not take too long if you already notice that the licking behavior is already continuous because the moisture coming from the licking might cause a secondary infection.

If there is an occurrence of secondary infection due to bacteria or yeast, it will generally cause more redness, itching, and swelling. Because of that, the Golden Retriever licking paws is more likely to happen. The dog’s itching cause by secondary infection can be treated by topical anti-itch sprays, steroids, antibiotics, or antifungal medications provided that these are prescribed by the vet.

7-Injury

Well, sudden licking of one particular paw of the Golden Retriever generally calls for immediate attention. In case you notice this behavior of your pooch, consider examining its paws. Try to find out if there is an injury like a torn nail. Better to closely examine their nails, the areas between the toes and pads, and even at the top portion of the feet.

Moreover, dog paws injury can also occur due to walking over hot sidewalks, stepping on something sharp, getting a blister, or it could be stung by a bee. The basic first aid treatment can help in relieving this issue. However, serious pain cases generally require veterinary treatment. That way, the licking behavior of the dog might be lessened.

8-Boredom

Golden Retriever licking paws

The Golden Retrievers are highly active dogs and they generally get frustrated once they did not engage in activities like walking, running, or roaming around. With this, they often tend to revert their attention to destructive activities such as excessive licking of the paws. In order to address this licking behavior, prevent them from getting bored as much as possible. Here are the things that you can do in preventing their boredom:

  • Never leave your Golden Retriever alone at home for over long periods.
  • Consider giving treat-filled toys to your Goldens once you decide to leave them home all alone. This will generally keep them occupied even without someone left with them.
  • Let them play and exercise frequently.
  • Invest at least 30 minutes of your time every day to take your Golden Retriever out for a walk or to play fetch.
  • Socialize your Goldens pup with other people and with other dogs.
  • Never confine your dog in a crate or tied up in the yard most of the time.

9-Anxiety

Most of the time, the Golden Retriever tends to lick their paws excessively to relieve their anxiety. Dog anxiety can be rooted in different factors. With this, the Golden Retriever licking paws may be similar to human behavior of nail-biting. Sometimes, the Goldens lick paws prior to bed or they lick paws in order for them to fall asleep. This is one best way for them to relax and soothe themselves from the fear that they feel. The possible causes of a dog’s anxiety are the following:

  • Boredom
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Separation from the owners for a long time

In order to reduce the Golden Retriever licking behavior due to anxiety, it is very important to address this issue right away. It would be a big help if you would not leave your Golden Retriever for long hours. Also, monitor and check your Goldens from time to time if possible. Training your Golden Retriever to be less anxious when you are not around is also a good idea.

10-Compulsive Behavior

In case you notice your Golden Retriever doing this licking paws behavior compulsively, it definitely is the dog’s compulsive behavior. The Golden Retriever just keeps on doing the licking of paws because he has an irresistible urge of doing so. You will highly confirm that the licking paws behavior is already a compulsive behavior when the dog constantly does this for over a period of few weeks.

This doggy behavior generally calls the immediate attention of the veterinarian. There is a high probability that the Goldens may lick them raw constantly and excessively. Thus, the development of unnoticeable ulcers may occur. This is commonly known as the lick granuloma

11-Displacement Behavior

Paw licking of the Golden Retriever may also be attributed to the dog’s displacement behavior. Basically, the displacement behavior happens once the Goldens encounter conflicts and showcase out-of-context attitudes which are obviously unrelated to the current scenario. In humans, displacement behavior is represented by chewing of pen or twisting it around the fingers during mild stress situations.

Dogs licking paws may also be due to similar reasons to that of humans. This issue will be addressed appropriately by proper dog training and impulse control exercises. That way, the behavior of licking paws would be improved.

12-Hormonal Imbalance

The Golden Retriever may produce high levels of cortisol which leads to Cushing’s disease, or they may also not produce a sufficient level of thyroid hormone resulting in hypothyroidism. These two conditions may be generally accounted for the dog’s hormonal imbalance. With that, the susceptibility of the Goldens in acquiring skin problems like balding, red spots, and brittle hair may be higher. So, the way of the Golden Retriever to relieve these skin issues is to lick on their paws.

13-Gastrointestinal Distress

Another reason why Golden Retrievers lick their paws too much is because of the underlying GI issues. One study revealed that 14 dogs from the total of 19 licking dogs were discovered to have abnormalities of the gastrointestinal system. Chronic pancreatitis, lymphocytic-plasmacytic infiltration, and gastric foreign body are the common issues observed during the study.

Abnormal licking of paws is one of the indications of gastrointestinal problems in some dogs.

Journal of Veterinary Behavior

14-Dermatitis

Once the dog skin is dry, it may become itchy and the dog may try to relieve the itching by licking on their paws. Dermatitis or dry skin for dogs is a breed-related concern. However, there are also other factors that trigger the occurrence of dry skin in dogs including the Golden Retriever. Those factors are:

DRY WEATHER

If you are residing in cold and dry climates, your Goldens may probably develop dry skin. With this, it is better to ask for the veterinarian’s recommendation for natural dog lotion or dog oil that can help in relieving the skin dryness. If being messy with the oil is your concern, consider feeding your Golden Retriever with dog vitamins and oil supplements.

EXCESSIVE BATHING

Over bathing your dog may cause dryness of the dog’s skin. Although this is an essential grooming routine, bathing the dog too much can strip off their skin and the natural oils of their hair. Some dog shampoos use harsh chemicals as part of the ingredients which can generally dry the dog’s skin and coat. With this, talk to a professional dog groomer or vet for the possible treatment of a dry dog’s skin.

15-Presence of Deicing Salt and Ice Balls

In case you notice your Golden Retriever licking paws during the winter season, the cause might probably be due to the presence of deicing salts. Another one could be sore paws due to ice balls.

*Deicing Salts

This is actually the kind of salts that are used in melting ice over the driveways and roads. The deicing salts can affect the dog’s feet by causing chemical burns into them. As much as possible, try not to allow your Golden Retriever to walk on areas with deicing salts.

If you are not sure what those areas are, consider giving your Goldens pet boots. Let them wear it every time they go outside during the winter season. Moreover, after a winter walk, consider washing your dog’s feet by using warm water and a towel. This will generally be helpful for your Golden Retriever to prevent the accidental ingestion of toxic salts.

*Ice Balls

During the winter season, the ice balls can get in between the toes of your Golden Retriever and it can get caught within the fur of your dog. Ice balls may result to cracking and bleeding of the dog’s paws. There would also be hair pulling which can all eventually lead to experiencing pain.

Since there is pain, the Golden Retriever licking paws behavior might occur. Because of that, it is very important to maintain the hair of the dog’s pad and toes always trimmed in a short length especially when it is winter.

Special Considerations for Golden Retriever Licking Paws

When you are considering figuring out the reason behind your Golden Retriever licking behavior, there are things that you should take into account.

Golden Retriever licking paws

Occasional Paw Licking – a Normal Behavior

It is actually normal for dogs to lick their paws on an occasional basis. This could be due to their natural behavior of grooming themselves. Moreover, licking on just one particular paw is an indication of sudden injury. This should call for the attention of the veterinarian together with aggressive licking as it is caused by allergies or parasites.

When does paw licking occur

The timing when does the dog paw licking occurs is such a good thing to consider here. Notice or monitor the frequency or severity when the dog elicits that behavior in conjunction with some factors. That way, you will able to point out the root cause of the behavior.

For instance, if the Golden Retriever usually licks his paws every time you did not take him out for a walk, which might probably because he is already bored. So, better check on this.

Note the time the Goldens started to do the paw licking

If paw licking is not a thing for your Golden Retriever, it is very important to get back on other things that had happened during the first time that the dog elicits this behavior. In case the licking behavior suddenly occurs, it might probably be due to allergies, injuries, or there is something in between his toes.

Helpful Ways to Stop the Licking Behavior of the Golden Retriever

If you think that the licking behavior of the Golden Retriever is something bothersome, here are helpful tips that you can do:

Immediately check his paws

Since one of the reasons why the Golden Retriever is licking his paws is the presence of something that gets stuck into it, it is better to examine his paws right away. It would be very helpful if you would confirm if there is something or nothing is stuck in between. Moreover, checking for fleas and other parasites would also be a big help.

Bring your dog to the veterinarian

Rushing your Golden Retriever to a veterinarian is always the best option when there is something unusual happened in connection to licking behavior. That way, you will be able to rule out any underlying medical issues if any. You can also get professional advice that is detailed down on your Golden Retriever’s specific needs. Here are the things that necessitate you to call the vet:

  • Unable to figure out the reasons behind the Golden Retriever’s licking behavior
  • The Golden Retriever is doing the behavior excessively
  • Displaying signs of injury

Provide your Golden Retriever with some exercise

Getting the daily amount of required exercise is actually essential for a healthy and highly active Golden Retriever. Once this activity is deprived, the Goldens will most likely look for ways to entertain themselves and one of them is licking their paws.

Do not encourage the behavior

Sometimes, beyond our awareness, we already tend to encourage the behavior of the dog by providing him things that he wants. This is most likely true if you do the giving when he does the licking.

Yet, rather than rewarding your Goldens, consider rewarding him when the behavior he shows is a better one. Moreover, try to check on your Golden Retriever’s actions when he is likely to begin licking his paws. The moment he does it, try to redirect the focus of your Goldens into something.

Final Words

The Golden Retriever might lick his paws for several reasons. Some may be just a part of their grooming process, yet others are linked with more serious medical concerns. But, regardless of the reason, we should try to make it a point that our Golden Retrievers are taken care of properly. That way, you will have a healthier and happier Goldens.

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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