If your German Shepherd keeps licking its feet and paws you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why it might do it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd lick its feet and paws? Possible reasons are that it’s bored, it has something in them, allergies or fleas, compulsive behavior, injury or separation anxiety.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd licks its feet and paws. Depending on the cause there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd licks its feet and paws
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd licks its feet and paws will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and what you can do about it.
German Shepherds are a breed that should get a lot of exercise. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd gets an hour of exercise per day. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues including licking their paws a lot.
If your German Shepherd is not currently getting much exercise then making sure that it does will likely help a lot.
Related post: Ways to exercise your German Shepherd.
It has something in them
It could be the case that it has gotten something stuck on its paws which is causing it to lick them.
This would be more likely if you can actually see something stuck between them and if it only seems to be licking one paw in particular.
Allergies or a rash could also be causing your German Shepherd 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 German Shepherd started to lick its paws. 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 your German Shepherd has been licking its feet paws could be that it has fleas.
This would be more likely if it has been itching itself in other areas as well and if you have found flees on it or around the house.
If fleas are causing your German Shepherd to lick its paws, 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 German Shepherd with a monthly preventative
It could be the case that your German Shepherd is licking its paws compulsively. This is where your German Shepherd has an irresistible urge to repeat the behavior despite there being no apparent cause. This would be more likely if your German Shepherd has been licking its paws excessively, it has caused damaged its paw by biting it, if it has lost fur and if it bleeds.
It would also be more likely if it started licking its paws excessively when something happened that would cause it to develop a compulsive behavior.
Possible things that could have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
The cause of it licking its paws could be that an injury is causing them to be painful. This would be more likely if there are obvious signs of it being injured such as it not walking normally. It would also be more likely if it started doing it when something happened that could have caused its paws to become injured.
The reason why your German Shepherd licks its paws could be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where your German Shepherd does not like being left alone and it gets anxious when it is alone.
This would be more likely to be the reason if your German Shepherd tends to get very anxious when you are going out or you’re about to leave it to go to bed. Ways that it might show anxiety would be pacing, crying or being destructive while you are away.
If your German Shepherd does seem to have some separation anxiety then you can watch the video below to see a number of tips on what you can do about it.
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop licking its feet and paws it would help to have a good understanding of why it is doing it. Below, I will mention a few things to consider.
It is normal for it to lick its paws or feet occasionally
First of all, if your German Shepherd only licks its feet or paws occasionally then it would likely just be normal behavior. When it does it the cause could be that it is just grooming itself or that it has something stuck to its paws.
Whereas, if your German Shepherd has been licking its paws or feet a lot then it would be unusual behavior.
When it does it
It would also likely help to consider the timing of when your German Shepherd licks its paws.
For example, if it only seems to lick its paws when you are leaving or while you are not around then it would make it a lot more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it when it has not gotten any exercise then it could be the case that it is bored.
When it first started doing it
The timing of when it started licking its paws could be a helpful thing to consider.
If it started to lick its paws suddenly then it would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that it started happening.
Some things that might have happened could include:
- You started using a different shampoo on it
- Someone stepped on one of its paws
- You started noticing fleas around the house
How to get your German Shepherd to stop licking its paws and feet
There are a number of things that you can do about your German Shepherd licking its paws that I will mention below.
Check there is nothing stuck in its paws
Since your German Shepherd might 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 can’t figure out why it has been licking its paws then it would likely help to take it to a vet who will be able to give you expert advice on why it is happening and what to do for your specific dog.
Give it exercise
If the vet has verified that there is no medical issue then it would help to make sure that it is getting enough exercise.
Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get an hour of exercise per day.
You give it exercise by walking it for an hour per day, teaching it to play fetch or by getting a dog walker to exercise it for you.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
It could be the case that your German Shepherd has learned that licking its paws gets things that it wants from you. This would be more likely if your method to get it to stop is to give it things that it wants such as attention or treats.
Instead, it would help to try and reward it before it starts licking its paws and to give it distractions beforehand.
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