Why Do Pugs Lick Their Paws? 7 Tips to Stop It

Why do Pugs lick their paws? Have you noticed your Pug licking his or her paws a lot lately?

Behaviors like these can be worrisome – especially if your Pug’s licking starts to get out of hand. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

In this article, we’ll help you differentiate between normal licking and times when there might be something more serious at play.

Plus some actionable steps you can take to keep your precious Pug in the best of health.

Why Do Pugs Lick Their Paws?

Many Pugs lick their paws. This is normal canine grooming behavior.

However, if your Pug has suddenly started licking their paws incessantly, there might be something wrong. Excessive licking can be attributed to a number of causes. Typical causes include canine atopy, allergies, and yeast infections.

If your Pug’s licking behavior continues for a prolonged period of time, or you start to notice any swelling, inflammation, bleeding, or redness, we recommend visiting your vet.

Despite this, it’s important to know the difference between normal paw licking and the first signs of a more serious problem.

Top causes of Pug paw licking

Pug paw licking can be attributed to various underlying causes – some physical and others behavioral.

Here is a list of the most frequently diagnosed causes.

1. Physical causes

Most of the time there will be an underlying physical cause attributed to your Pug’s paw licking behavior. Typical examples include:

  • Pain

Check to see if your Pug is incessantly licking one paw. This is a sign that your pet is in pain or experiencing some discomfort in that particular area.

Perhaps they have been bitten by an insect or have obtained a small wound – from some broken glass, for example.

(1) If that’s the case, your Pug should stop licking once the wound has healed.

(2) If not, then visit your vet. It’s possible that your Pug has an invisible injury such as a sprain, break, or fracture.

  • Allergies

Many cases of chronic Pug licking are traced back to allergies. Allergies cause your Pug’s skin to itch. Licking is their way of alleviating the discomfort.

Possible allergies include food allergies, chemical allergies, atopy, and allergies to specific medicines. In these cases, it’s best to find the root cause of your pet’s allergy.

In the meantime, however, your vet may prescribe a course of antihistamines to relieve your Pug’s immediate symptoms.

If your Pug is suffering from allergies, there are a number of steps you can take. You’ll need to pick a treatment depending on the root cause of the allergy.

Here’s a list of common allergens along with some suggested solutions.

(1) Food

Just like us, dogs can have individual food allergies. Common canine food allergies include wheat, soy, corn, and even meats like chicken, pork, or beef.

Low-quality branded dog food is a common culprit. These foods and kibbles often contain artificial additives.

Tips: Choose high-quality dog food, have your vet conduct an allergy test and suggest a suitable nutrition plan for your Pug.

(2) Airborne allergens

Again, just like us, some dogs are sensitive to allergens in the air. Things like pollen, mold, and grass can cause irritation.

If your Pug tends to itch after going for a walk, airborne allergens could be the problem. To prevent irritation make sure that you’re

Tips: Cleaning your Pug’s bowls, toys, and bedding regularly.

Avoid letting your Pug out in the yard when there is a particularly high pollen count.

(3) Dust mites

Dust mites are another common household allergen. They are typically found on carpets, bedding, and in air conditioning filters.

Tips: Keep a clean home. Vacuum regularly and, if possible, keep your Pug in a non-carpeted area.

(4) Medicines

If your Pug has developed an allergy after taking prescription medications for another ailment then you must visit your vet.

Just like us humans, Pugs may be allergic to certain medications.

Tips: Stop using medication that causes allergy in the future and inform any new veterinarians of their allergies.

(5) Perfumed products

Perfumed products should be avoided whether your Pug is suffering from an allergy or not.

If you do need to use a doggie shampoo, flea-control treatment, or cleaning solution then ensure that the ingredients are as natural and unscented as possible to avoid irritation.

Likewise, some dogs will be allergic to insecticidal shampoos. If your Pug suffers an allergic reaction to any product, stop using it immediately.

(6) Synthetic materials

Synthetic materials like plastics and rubber can cause allergies in some dogs.

If your Pug is experiencing signs of irritation with no alternative cause you might want to consider switching up their food bowls and toys. Aim for natural materials wherever possible.

  • Yeast infection

Typical symptoms of yeast infection include excessive licking, hair loss, and a musty odor.

Because of their many skin folds, Brachycephalic breeds are particularly prone to developing yeast infections. These folds are a breeding ground for moisture and bacteria.

However, those adorable folds aren’t the only cause. Dogs with over or underactive immune systems are at greater risk of developing yeast dermatitis.

This is because their skin produces too much oil. Inevitably this becomes itchy, causing your Pug to lick and spread the infection to other parts of its body.

Yeast infections can often be treated with some simple dietary changes.

Tips: Eliminating starchy foods and carbohydrates like wheat, corn, rice, and potatoes really help. If in doubt, ask your vet to recommend some food alternatives.

  • Gastrointestinal problems

A study announced many dogs with GI problems exhibit abnormal licking behaviors. Your Pugs could have GI issues when they are licking paws excessively.

  • Hormonal imbalance

Hormonal imbalances can cause skin irritation and hair loss. This typically appears as red spots on the surface of the skin caused by an imbalance of the hormone cortisol. Licking is a common symptom of irritation caused by hormonal imbalance.

  • Dry skin

Many dogs develop dry skin from time to time. Some breeds, particularly hairless dogs, are predisposed to developing chronic dry skin.

But there are other reasons why your dog’s skin might become dry such as excessive bathing, dry or cold weather. Your Pug might be licking their paws for this reason.

They are just trying to relieve that irritating dryness. You might want to treat their paws with a natural moisturizer (olive oil is a great shout).

  • Fleas & ticks

Pugs can pick up fleas and ticks when they walk or play outside. Unfortunately, these pesky creatures are known to cause severe irritation and itchiness causing your Pug to lick.

Your vet will be able to recommend some anti-flea medications or natural remedies.

2. Behavioral causes

In some cases, paw licking is actually a behavioral response. If your pet is feeling bored, anxious, or stressed, they will start exhibiting some abnormal behaviors in response.

  • Boredom

A bored Pug is known to lick. If your Pug spends a lot of time sitting around at home all day, then chances are they’re feeling a little unenthused.

But don’t worry. This one is easily combated with some new toys, extra socialization, and plenty of play.

Make sure that you are taking your Pug on their daily walk and try to avoid leaving them alone for long periods.

  • Anxiety

Pugs are prone to separation anxiety. The Pug breed was selectively bred as a companion dog. And that means they are happiest when you’re around.

If you’re out at work all day or spend long periods of time away from your pet, then they could become anxious. Licking is a common response. Your Pug will self-soothe by licking.

  • Displacement behavior

Displacement behavior describes any kind of abnormal behavioral conflict response. Typical human displacement behaviors including chewing on pens, twisting a ring on your finger, or fidgeting. We usually do these things when we’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Licking is the equivalent displacement behavior in canines. If your Pug is unsure, frustrated, scared, or otherwise unsettled, they may display this displacement behavior. Luckily, this can be improved with impulse control training.

How to Prevent Paw Licking at Home

If you notice your Pug licking their paw more than usual, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate their irritation.

Note: It’s important to consult your vet to identify the right treatment plan based on your own Pug’s circumstances.

1. Antibiotic medications

If your Pug has a bacterial or yeast infection, a course of prescription antibiotics or antifungals should get your Pug back to their normal itch-free self.

2. Prescription shampoo

If your Pug has a skin condition then your vet might recommend a prescription shampoo to ease irritation.

Alternatively, a short-term dose of steroids is also an option. Steroids are usually only used in cases where inflammation is quite severe.

3. Topical sprays

If there is no medical cause behind your Pug’s licking habit – perhaps they just do it for fun or distraction – then you can try out a topical spray.

Bitter apple deters Sid from licking, he doesn’t like the taste. In fact, this same method is sometimes used with human children to stop them from biting their nails.

4. Distraction

If boredom is the main reason your Pug licks their paws then distraction is the answer.

Make sure you’re giving your pet enough attention each day. And when you can’t be with them ensure that there’s plenty of fun, mentally stimulating toys about to play with.

5. Humidifiers

If your Pug is prone to allergies and dry skin, then you might want to invest in a home humidifier. Humidifiers emit water vapor to increase moisture levels in the air.

6. Dietary changes

Ask your vet to conduct a food allergy test and make any dietary changes as needed. It’s also worth avoiding highly processed shop-bought dog food.

Try to pick products with only natural ingredients to prevent food allergies and sensitivities which could cause irritation and (therefore) licking.

7. Natural remedies

Last, but not least, there are various natural remedies you can try that can help prevent your Pug from licking its paws obsessively. Pug owners know best.

Many home remedies have been tried and tested over the years. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Apple cider vinegar – the taste will deter licking, but never place on open wounds.
  • Baking soda – bathe your Pug’s feet in warm water and baking soda to reduce itching and discomfort.
  • Coconut oil – rub coconut oil on your Pug’s paws to soothe irritation, curb itching, and help fight infection.

Pugs Lick Their Paws: When to Visit The Vet

If your Pug’s paw licking persists, then it’s time to visit your vet for a professional opinion. The sooner the better.

It’s important to get to the underlying cause and start appropriate treatment. Your vet will run some diagnostic tests and prescribe any medications as needed.

Depending on what is causing your Pug’s condition, your vet may prescribe one of the following treatment plans:

  • Antibiotics – to treat a bacterial infection
  • Antifungals – to treat a yeast infection
  • Antihistamines – to prevent allergies
  • Prescription shampoos
  • Topical sprays
  • steroid treatment
  • Flea/ tick medication
  • Dietary changes – in case of allergies
  • Lifestyle changes/ behavioral therapy – for anxious Pugs

Do I Need To Be Worried If My Pug Licks Paws?

When our pets start exhibiting odd behaviors out of the blue, it can be concerning.

Whilst most paw licking is just natural canine behavior, it’s still important that we don’t let it get out of control. Some Pugs may develop a behavioral issue around paw licking.

It can become an addictive ritual for some dogs, causing discomfort, pain, and infection over time.

Here are some signs that your Pug’s licking needs special attention:

  1. Their licking is causing painful sores or lesions – these can become infected
  2. Your Pug starts limping – this indicates a wound, injury, or foreign object
  3. Chewing – if licking becomes chewing take note. This is not a typical behavior
  4. Redness – redness, and irritation to the skin needs treatment
  5. Bleeding – if your Pug’s paws start to bleed you must visit your vet

If your Pug keeps licking their paws for days on end, then it’s time to visit the vet.

Get That Pug Paw Licking Under Control

Whilst occasional paw licking is just part and parcel of being a dog, there are times when the behavior could indicate a more serious problem.

There are many reasons why Pugs lick their paws, from dry skin from cold weather to unexpected allergic reactions.

The important thing is to know what to look out for and, if in doubt, always visit your vet.

In the meantime, check out this helpful video:

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