I have a feisty 12-year-old Boston Terrier. He is in excellent health, gets fed homemade dog food and is very active. However, he licks his paws constantly. One of his paws is white and there is noticeable saliva staining. Any suggestions on what is causing this licking and how I can reduce it?
Thank you for your question. Your Boston’s paw-licking could be either medically or behaviorally based. Dr. Mahaney has addressed the possible medical causes, so let’s look at some of the behavioral reasons for the licking.
Possible behavioral reasons (they’re all stress induced):
Any change in “personnel” – For instance, your roommate moved out, you have a new spouse, etc.
Any change in routine that poses potential stress, like fewer walks or more alone time.
New maintenance sounds/sights/smells, such as a new gardener, your neighbor building a new room, roof work or painters.
A new dog on the block.
A history of stress with paw-licking closely following.
Lack of mental stimulation and physical exercise. (These two are more common behavioral reasons for obsessive licking, pacing, circling, barking, etc.)
You or any other family member has been stressed out recently.
If you’ve ruled out all of these behavioral reasons, then consider some of the following physical reasons why your Boston may be licking his paws:
New grass growth your dog hasn’t walked on before (allergy).
New food. (Are there any new ingredients in your dog’s home-made meals? Even chicken can cause an allergic reaction.)
Since the licking area seems to just be the paws, an environmental allergy is a good suspect here. I suggest contacting a vet, because even if you discover it’s behaviorally based, your Boston’s paws will need medical attention.
Please let me know the outcome.