It’s no fun when something is wrong with our furry friends. But as responsible pet owners, we must be their voice and figure out what the problem is. This means observing their actions to determine what’s normal and what isn’t. For example, it’s normal behavior for a dog to lick its paws. It’s part of his grooming routine. But excessive paw-chewing can indicate a serious problem. It may be anxiety, allergies, parasites, an infection, or an injury.
If the situation isn’t too severe, one of these home remedies may be worth a try before consulting a vet. Your dog(and you) will get some relief, and you may be able to determine what the cause of his itchy paws is.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a staple in many kitchens for cooking and health benefits such as a digestion aide and helping lower blood sugar. Because vinegar is diluted acetic acid, it also has anti-fungal properties. If your dog’s paws are itching because of a fungus infection, apple cider vinegar should help clear it up without any harmful side effects.
To make a soak for your dog’s feet dilute apple cider vinegar with water using a 1:2 ratio. That means one cup of vinegar for two cups of water. Then soak your dog’s feet for five minutes. Do this two times a day.
Check your dog’s paws for cuts and nicks before soaking them in the vinegar solution. The vinegar will sting if there are breaks in the skin. Also note that this method is for mild fungal infections, not serious ones. If it doesn’t work, the fungus is either too serious or is not the cause of your dog’s paw licking.
Coconut oil is beneficial to both our own and our four-legged friend’s skin health. It supports and helps maintain moisture levels and soothes itchiness and irritations. It also helps combat yeast and bacterial infections. It’s a good option to try if your dog’s itch doesn’t respond to apple cider vinegar.
Coconut oil doesn’t have to be diluted, can be applied directly, and is pleasant to use. In fact, it’s so pleasant your dog may want to lick it off. Of course, if he does it’s totally harmless. You can also try adding a little to your dog’s food. Use high-quality coconut oil such as an organic formula or extra-virgin. You can also buy soothing balms that contain other oils in addition to coconut oil.
A daily Epson salt soak can work wonders for your dog. It can restore pH levels and replenish the skin’s moisture, reduce inflammation, and reduce itching and pain. It will also kill off any harmful bacteria.
To make an Epsom salt soak for your dog, fill the bathtub with just enough lukewarm water to cover his paws and add two or three cups of Epsom salts. Stir to dissolve and have your dog stand in the water for 10-20 minutes. Depending on your dog’s energy level and personality, this may be difficult. You may have to try a few tricks to divert his attention such as brushing or petting him during the soak. A few treats may help, too.
Baking soda is another kitchen pantry stand-by with a host of household and health benefits. It’s a safe compound loaded with anti-inflammatory properties, It’s safe and easy to use.
For best results, make a paste out of the baking soda with a little water. Apply and leave the paste on your dog’s paws for about an hour. You may have to use booties or a head cone to keep your dog from licking it off.
Baking soda won’t treat your dog’s underlying condition, but its soothing properties will relieve the itch temporarily allowing other treatments to work.
Another way to use baking soda to help your dog’s feet is to set up a paw-washing pan or bucket near the door. Add a half-cup of baking soda to a few inches of water. Let your dog stand in it for a few minutes when he comes in from the outdoors. Use this method as a preventative to help neutralize acidic paw irritants.
Try to Change Their Food
Food allergies can be a real problem for our canine friends, more so than you may think. Instead of intestinal problems, a food allergy will cause itching in dogs.
Food allergies are more common if your dog has been eating the same food over a long period of time. It’s important to know that these allergies are caused by the proteins in their food. Most often it’s meat protein, but it can also be from grain and dairy products.
If, for example, your dog’s kibble contains chicken, switch to a brand that doesn’t contain chicken. If the itching stops, you’ll know the culprit.
However, it’s not always this easy. You may have to introduce a food-elimination diet to find the cause of your pooch’s food allergy. Feed your dog a simple homemade food of boiled rice and chicken or beef for a few weeks and watch what happens. If there is no reaction, you can slowly introduce other foods.
You may want to seek your veterinarian’s advice for help with an elimination diet.
Like you, vitamin E is necessary for your dog’s health and helps the immune system, heart, nerve cells, muscles, and liver. Its antioxidant properties protect cells against free radical damage and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. And even if a vitamin E deficiency doesn’t cause your dog’s itching, it may ease some of the irritation.
There are two ways to use vitamin E for your dog. Apply it topically by breaking open a capsule and rubbing it on the paws until it’s absorbed. Do this two or three times a day and less frequently after any cracked or dry, red skin has healed. You can also use vitamin E oil.
The second way is to look for dog food that contains a suitable amount of vitamin E. If you make your own dog food, add foods that are rich in vitamin E such as salmon or sweet potatoes.
High in sugar and hydrogen peroxide and containing a low pH, honey is rich in antibacterial properties. Applying honey to your dog’s paws can help if he has any kind of bacteria on his paws.
It’s non-toxic and tasty, so some dogs may lick it off. If so, you’ll need to cover his paws with booties, wrap them in gauze, and secure them with medical tape. Apply it to freshly-washed paws.
It’s best to use raw or pure honey to avoid other additives like corn syrup.
If your dog licks the honey off his paws, turmeric is a good option. He won’t like the taste.
Tumeric contains curcumin, a substance that has anti-inflammatory properties. It can relieve the itching from allergies, fights infection, and increases oxidation.
Some dogs may lick their paws in response to the pain of arthritis or a chronic injury. If this is the case, adding turmeric to his diet can ease the pain by decreasing inflammation.
Put turmeric directly on your dog’s skin by making a paste with powdered turmeric and coconut oil. Wrap with a bandage and re-apply once a day. Or add it to your dog’s food using the following dosages:
400mg turmeric/200mg curcumin for dogs weighing up to 25 lbs
800mg turmeric/400mg curcumin for dogs 25-75 lbs
1200mg turmeric/600mg curcumin for dogs over 75 lbs.
To avoid stomach upset, start low and work up to the recommended dosage.
Use Protective Booties
Changes in your dog’s food and other treatments can take some time to kick in. Protective slip-on socks or booties can prevent paw licking and chewing while undergoing treatment. (And they look so cute.) Make sure to get a good pair that is designed to stay put.
Booties are also a good option if you’re sure your dog’s paw chewing is a behavioral issue. Don’t just cover the paws in booties without addressing any underlying issue that may be causing the itching. His paws will still itch, and he’ll be miserable.
If you have determined that the itching comes from environmental issues, perhaps from chemicals on the lawn, booties can act as a barrier between the offender and your dog’s paws.
You can also use booties while a foot injury heals to keep the wound clean and help it heal.
Check for Ticks and Fleas
Fleas and ticks usually gather around your dog’s tummy area when dogs have an infestation. This is a good place to keep an eye out for fleas and ticks.
The problem is that some dogs are highly allergic to fleas. The reaction causes severe itching everywhere including between the toes. Just one or two fleas can drive them into a scratching frenzy, and you may not even see them.
Although this is last on the list, checking for ticks and fleas should be your first strategy to fight paw licking. You don’t want to go through everything else on this list only to find out the culprit was fleas all along.