Licking the paws can be a sign of skin irritation or infection.
In the winter, dogs are exposed to chemicals on streets and sidewalks, like de-icer or salt. During the summer, dogs are exposed grass, pollen, allergens, or pesticides.
Regardless of exposure, irritants can lead to red, itchy, or inflamed paws.
What can you do?
Paw baths are an effective way of cleaning and disinfecting the paws. Removing chemicals, bacteria, and yeast will lead to happier paws.
How often should you soak your dog’s paws?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question.
Paws should be soaked three times a week at least. If more irritation, soak nightly.
For dogs on-the-go, make paw soak solution in advance. Store solution in a small spray bottle and spritz on dog’s paws after every visit outside.
Paw Soak Recipes
Povidone-iodine (aka Betadine) is non-toxic, non-irritating, non-stingy, antibacterial, and antifungal.
Heat up water to about 100F. Add water to a small bowl, making sure it will cover the entire paw. Add several drops of povidone-iodine until the water looks like the color of iced tea. Immerse one paw at a time for 30 seconds each, and let air dry.
If your dog licks his paws after soaking, remember that paw soak is non-toxic and safe.
NOTE: I like to soak one paw at a time because my dog cooperates better. You could fill a tub with a few inches of water to cover dog’s paws. Make the paw soak the same way as stated above by increasing the recipe.
Organic, raw, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is also great for paws. It's antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral.
Heat up water to about 100F and add around 1 - 2 teaspoonfuls of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup water. Soak paws for 30 seconds and air dry.
NOTE: Increase recipe if it is easier for you to soak all four paws at same time in tub.
Epsom salt is effective in raising your dog’s pH, which helps to kill off bad bacteria.
Using warm water, add 1-2 teaspoonfuls Epsom salt to 1 cup water. Soak paws for 10 minutes. This can be a challenge if you have an inpatient pup.
What is the right soak for your dog?
This depends on the condition of your dog’s paws.
If paws have cuts, wounds, or yeast, use povidone-iodine or apple cider vinegar. These soaks are quick and effective.
If paws are itchy, add some brewed camomile tea to paw soak, which can be very soothing. Adding brewed green tea to paw soak can be a source of antioxidants to the skin and promote healing.
Paw licking is usually a sign of irritation. Keep your dog happy, healthy, and irritation-free with paw soaks.
If your dog’s paws are cracked, bleeding, or beyond mild irritation, speak to your veterinarian immediately.